Why Being Kind is the New Cool in High School!

Why Being Kind is the New Cool in High School!

Students creating cards for senior citizens, military, terminally ill children, and public service employees.

Kindness isn’t usually the first thing that students think about when they first enter my classroom.  After all, high school students sometimes believe that life is all about them. And, that’s perfectly fine.  That’s the stage of life they are at. They don’t always think about others around them, but part of my goal as their consumer education teacher is to make them a well-rounded human being.  That includes spreading more kindness, as well as volunteering and helping others in the community in which they will live one day. 

I wasn’t always passionate about volunteering and spreading kindness.  However, when I got to my junior and senior years of high school I read a book that changed my life.  Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University professor, inspired me. His book, The Last Lecture, taught me some valuable lessons.  His book and motivational video have been widely seen around the world up until his death.  His work became the reason behind why I am so passionate about spreading kindness.   

There are several ways I incorporate kindness into my classroom.  You could do this in your classroom or even at home with your children or grandchildren. 

Kindness ATM

In class, I show a video where a bank gives back to its customers with a kindness ATM.  This video is an easy way to demonstrate to students the importance of giving back to others.  It’s not always about money and loans for a bank; they truly care about their customers. This video is so touching that I have had students cry from the joy they feel when seeing the kindness that is shown. 

Jamieson Jar

As part of my mission to increase the appeal of kindness in my classroom, I have my Jamieson Jar.  It’s a small mason jar that has strips of paper next to it that say, “Random Act of Kindness”. Those strips are used by my students to give examples of random acts of kindness that they have seen or done.  

Here’s how the jar works in a nutshell: 

  • A student grabs a strip and writes a random act of kindness on it
  • Every 4-5 weeks I draw several random acts of kindness from the jar to share with the class
  • I add a bit of an incentive to the mix by rewarding the random acts of kindness that I read aloud.  It’s usually something simple like candy or chips. It’s their reward for spreading more kindness into the world

Students have actually fallen in love with my concept and now I have over 40 random acts of kindness in my jar each time I draw!  This is how I have convinced my students that kindness is the new cool. Now, you can create your own kindness jar to start encouraging kindness.  

Giving Back Activities 

This leads me to one of my favorite kindness activities.  Students are truly put in a position to give back to a stranger.  They create cards for emergency personnel, firefighters, police officers, terminally ill children, senior citizens, and veterans.  What I love about this activity is the ownership it gives to the students. Students choose who they want to create handmade cards for.  These cards are then given to local agencies to spread a little more kindness into the world. This is a great way to give back and is virtually free.  You just need markers and some colored paper.  

There are many cheap and free ways to be kind including lots of ideas you can find online.  That’s something I continually emphasize to others as I spread my message – it doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive.  If you aren’t sure how to get started, check out these ways to be kind which will help you get a kickstart. 

This fall I will be adding another activity that relates to kindness.  Students will be bartering throughout the semester. At the end of the bartering session, items will be auctioned off and the proceeds will be donated.  As part of the project, students will learn about non-profits in the area and be given the chance to choose where the money goes. 

These small lessons that I create are increasing the awareness students have for giving back to others. It pulls them out of their normal shell.  Students develop their creativity skills and learn how to be more compassionate people. By teaching kindness I hope students leave my class a bit kinder than when they came into it. 

~jj

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