I always tell my students that if there’s one thing that I want them to be, it’s kind. I firmly believe that love and kindness will bring our world together. With World Kindness Day approaching, I hope you’ll take some time to think about how you can spread kindness in school — on November 13 and all year long.
We’re all dealing with a lot of change and uncertainty right now. Teachers and students have had to make many adjustments to ensure a safe start to the school year. However, one thing has remained the same: the grace to be kind toward one another.
I hope some of the ideas below provide you with some inspiration on how to spread kindness in school.
1. Encourage Student-Led Initiatives
My students have been amazing — from my middle school students creating Service-Learning Project Videos for Essential Workers last spring to my high school students digitally serving our school and community with kindness this fall. My students have really taken creativity to the next level!
Recently, my high school students came up with the idea to post a Daily Kindness Quote and/or Challenge on our Metuchen School District’s Wellness Website. Our PE Department sent out a link via Google Forms to all Metuchen High School students to complete. This ensured that every student in the school would have the chance to contribute!
Our principal, Bruce Peragallo, was completely on board with this, loving the fact that our students came up with this initiative.
I have been blown away by all the innovative plans that my students created! One recommendation was to create a “Kindness Wall” when you walk into the front of our school, where people could add Kindness Quotes & Positive Vibes.
Since we are not all in person, another student added to this initiative and came up with the idea of making a “MHS Virtual Kindness Wall” via Google Slides. My students and I all contributed!
2. Promote Positive School Climate and Culture
Under the leadership of our superintendent, Dr. Vincent Caputo, our district has a Wellness Committee, which I co-chair with our Health and Physical Education Supervisor John Cathcart. This committee developed a Wellness Website, which allows students, educators and parents to see the students’ initiatives that are spreading kindness throughout the community. The website also allows people to chime in with positive ideas to enhance everyone’s overall well-being!
Teachers have also jumped in and started trends of sending fun videos and inspirational messages to one another in school. Our PE Department sent out this JibJab video of us to make the MHS faculty smile on a rainy day!
Our HPE supervisor came up with the idea to challenge staff to add new ways to spread kindness. This led to other departments getting involved as well as our administration! Other schools in our district called up so they could get involved — and they even sent something out to the parents!
I’m excited to see what happens next. It really is so empowering to see what one act of love can do and how many people it can affect in a positive way!
3. Use Social Media to Spread Positivity
Social media can have a powerful impact! This past month, health and physical educators on Twitter engaged in #EducatorEmpowermentWeek. The idea of empowering other educators with love and kindness came from a single phone call between two teachers in New Jersey and Missouri.
Our goal was to have educators throughout the country lift one another up from state to state through love and kindness — and when someone in each state was lifted up, they would receive a heart for their state.
I’m happy to report that collectively, we were able to cover the entire United States with hearts! The Empowerment Map shows that we are all connected through love, kindness and empowerment and that we are #StrongerTogether.
4. Integrate Social and Emotional Learning
More than ever, teachers across the country have recognized the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL). Regardless of a child’s background or where they are from, every student has experienced a drastic change in education, leading to many emotions, thoughts and feelings.
The pandemic illuminated the fact that students’ mental health should be at the forefront of education when schools reopened this fall. It has been so important for our students to know that we, as educators, are here for them — whether that be in person or through a computer screen.
SHAPE America’s health. moves. minds.® program provides teachers with standards-based, SEL lessons and activities that can teach students (and adults!) much-needed coping skills, as well skills to improve their overall health and well-being — with a focus on kindness, mindfulness and empowerment.
This free program has been a game-changer for me — and it has been life-changing for students across the country! For more information, visit healthmovesminds.org.
5. Understand That Kindness Is Everything
Kindness is one of the many #healthmovesminds skills that has been proven effective for our educators and students’ success. One act of kindness can change someone’s day for the better or even save someone’s life … and that is why Kindness Is Everything.
With all that said, what is your plan for #WorldKindnessDay? Our school district and students welcome you to #MakeEveryDayWorldKindnessDay with us and engage in our Daily Kindness Quotes and Challenges!
We know that education has changed throughout the country — and showing kindness has been a great way to move forward in a positive way!
Written with love and kindness in memory of Donovan J. Reyes-Ayala (August 28, 2006- October 30, 2020), one of the most positive students I’ve ever had. I’ll always remember the kindness you have shown me and how reassuring you were when you would say, “Don’t worry, Ms. Huff … God’s got you.” I may have been your teacher, but you taught me more than you will ever know.
- World Kindness Day Resources
- health. moves. minds. Interactive Newsletter
- health. moves. minds. Distance Learning Resource Guide
Michelle Huff is a health and physical educator at Metuchen High School. She is also Physical Education VP-Elect for NJAHPERD and New Jersey State Coordinator for SHAPE America’s health. moves. minds.® program. Follow her on Twitter @mshuff_HPE and Youtube.