“What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Kindness is the way forward. It may be easy to get lost in our own lives, but we must remember to continue to practice it. Research even suggests that small acts of kindness at work can benefit the whole organisation, and it is considered as an important predictor of satisfaction. To ensure it becomes a lifelong habit, we must take steps to ensure that our students are consciously spreading kindness and the culture in our classrooms reflects this.
What Does the Research Say?
Research suggests that practicing kindness everyday can be contagious and boost positive emotions; subsequently inspiring kindness in others. The researchers also found that being on the receiving end of kindness was an undeniably positive experience – further reinforcing the actions of those practicing kindness.
In this study, participants were separated into three groups: givers, receivers, and controls. Givers practiced 5 acts of kindness towards receivers, over a period of 4 weeks. Researchers found that both givers and receivers benefited in regard to their well-being, in both the short-term and the long-term. Receivers became happier after two months as measured by The Subjective Happiness Scale, and givers experienced more satisfaction with their lives and jobs. The acts of kindness inspired others to act, with evidence showing that receivers continued to pay it forward with far more pro-social behaviours than those who were the controls.
Spreading Kindness in the Classroom
Start with Yourself
When we think of kindness, we often think of helping others. However, it is crucial to start with yourself. Think about how you talk to yourself and take care of yourself; are you treating yourself kindly?
Enhancing your self-esteem and talking to yourself in an understanding and supportive way will help you feel enlightened. When you begin to express kindness to yourself, it will become easier to spread these positive feelings to others.
Students often view their teachers as role models. Without thinking, teachers are influencing their students in regard to their behaviour, and how they speak to and treat others. Express your appreciation for teaching assistants or the dinner lady and do so outwardly; leading by example will show students how they should be acting and they will follow suit.
Daily Kindness Challenge
At the start of the school day, tell your students to pass on one act of kindness to another student or teacher. Before school breaks up for the day, ask your students to sit down in a circle and share their act of kindness with the classroom. This challenge makes both the receiver and the giver feel good, giving students the motivation they need to continue and develop a new positive habit.
Help the Community
Plan community service projects to get students involved with their local community and become more aware of their surroundings. This is important as students will be showing kindness and taking action on a greater level. Students benefit in many ways from volunteering their time and efforts into trying to do good for others, especially their own local community where they will see the positive effects first-hand.
Does Kindness Really Matter?
Whilst we go about our day, it may seem frivolous to actively practice kindness. Sometimes, we would rather just stay to ourselves and focus on our own problems. However, every day is an opportunity to make ourselves and others feel better.
You can make someone’s day, and even have a positive impact on their life by simply saying or doing something kind. Even smiling at a stranger is an act of kindness. Also, our relationships flourish when we take the time to appreciate others and express compassion. This can strengthen our bonds with family and friends and help us develop meaningful relationships. Research also suggests that being kind can reduce anxiety, ease stress and prevent illness.
Kindness is something we should all strive to focus on in our daily lives. Whether it is talking to ourselves with compassion or encouraging our students to help the community, we should prioritise practicing acts of kindness. It is a value that has been shown to add satisfaction and happiness in our lives, whilst also making others feel appreciated. If you are on the receiving end of an act of kindness, make sure to express your gratitude – this is also a gift that keeps on giving.