Did you know that Random Acts of Kindness week is less than two weeks away? In order to provide you with the best resources, I turned to an expert. Marilyn Decalo, the Education Director at the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation explains how Random Acts of Kindness can transform your classroom, improve school climate and make the world a better place. She offers a variety of resources, including lesson plans, project ideas, videos, posters and graphics for you to use in your school.
What is Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Week?
RAK Week—Feb 9-15, 2015—is a 7 day celebration of kindness. On the surface, it’s a week dedicated to performing simple acts of kindness. But really? It’s an opportunity to make kindness the norm instead of the exception.
Why are Random Acts of Kindness important?
In a world where stress, violence, and intense competition cause us to feel disconnected, acts of kindness can bring us together as we find fulfillment and joy in thinking about and doing something nice for others. All human beings need affection to thrive and even small acts of kindness can touch someone deeply and make their day.
Improving School Climate Enhances Student Performance
There are many scientific studies that demonstrate when students are emotionally calm and safe then they learn better. CASEL (The Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning) undertook a meta-study in which they looked at students and schools where social and emotional learning was taught. In those schools, test scores rose an average of 11%. Clearly, when we address children’s social and emotional needs they are better engaged in academic learning. Random Acts of Kindness offers tools for teachers and students to implement social and emotional learning through the lens and power of kindness.
Our own research studies have given us a lot of helpful feedback from parents, teachers and educators who integrate Random Acts of Kindness into their classrooms. We know that kindness is a human, empathetic and genuine exchange of caring that benefits both the giver and receiver. When kindness is practiced in schools adults and children become more responsive, more caring and more socially aware of themselves as having the ability to make a difference in their shared experience. Over time they come to believe that they have the power to improve their lives and the enjoyment of their lives through authentic kind acts. The most magical part of this transformation is that it doesn’t matter if the act of kindness is small or large. The effect is the same. In the personal and social awareness that learning about and doing acts of kindness requires, we learn to pay attention to each others feelings.
Building positive emotional connection between students, between students and teachers, and between students and parents helps create healthy relationships. Positive relationships in turn help to ease anxiety, bring a sense of belonging and allow students to focus and engage in learning. Educators find their classrooms are more easily managed and their students’ behavior improves.
A Lasting Impact in your Community
Perhaps one of my favorite RAK stories is about Joshua Williams who created Joshua’s Heart. When Joshua was just five years old he was touched by the plight of a homeless man and offered him the $20 that his grandmother had just given him to use however he wished. He was moved by the man’s hunger and soon afterwards discovered a passion to feed the hungry. Joshua was so motivated by his passion and vision to help stomp out hunger that with his Mom’s help he set up a food distribution service. This young man has a powerful dream to eliminate world hunger. Because of his kindness and his ability to connect his heart to action, Joshua is inspiring others to feed families and stomp out hunger through partnerships with major corporations and new programs to educate communities on the value of growing gardens.
Advice and Resources for Educators
We recommend that educators first take a look at what they may already be doing to teach character, kindness and positive behavior in their schools and classrooms, and think about where they’d like to add some new material. So many teachers do this on a daily basis already and RAK’s lessons and activities can be easily integrated into their existing curricula. A key element of the Random Acts of Kindness supplemental instructional materials is that they build skills. Through learning and applying kindness concepts in a series of developmentally aligned and sequentially outlined lessons, children engage in kindness activities that help build knowledge and awareness and empower them to kind social action.
The lessons are intended to be enjoyable and thoughtful while using kindness in various social contexts (playground dynamics, bullying, friendship, media influences) to support children in coming to a guided understanding of how to interact, problem solve, communicate and collaborate in civil and positive ways. All of the RAK materials are easily integrated into core academic subject areas and contain tips for use with diverse learners. We suggest starting small. Try three classroom lessons and a couple of kindness projects and see where that brings you. If you want to do more RAK can easily be expanded.
The Random Acts of Kindness foundation offers implementation plans and our teacher support team is available by email: email@example.com. We love working with educators who want to bring more kindness to their school communities!
Ideas for Getting Started
1. Announce the challenge in a staff email, meeting, or in the teacher’s lounge. Here’s some sample text for you to use:
International Random Acts of Kindness Week (RAKWeek) is Feb 9-15, 2015. Let’s celebrate as a school by performing random acts of kindness and posting them on Facebook and Twitter using #RAKWeek2015
2. Post a list of 15 kindness ideas around the school.
4. Use one of our free RAK week school activity ideas
5. Start each day sharing an act of kindness you witnessed in your class the day before.
6. Announce the challenge in your school newsletter or newspaper. Be sure to capture photos, quotes or stories throughout the week to share with the community.
7. Be sure to share RAK Week photos, stories, or videos with us! firstname.lastname@example.org
Educators should also check out our website where they will find lesson plans, kindness project ideas for the classroom (and home), videos, posters, graphics, inspiring quotes and kindness ideas, as well as some great stories and kindness advice from fellow educators. We also have an educator Facebook page and a monthly newsletter with tips and resources to bring kindness into the school day.