Tag: #AlwaysChooseKindness

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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Giving back even when busy!

Giving back even when busy!

Life can get busy, but you can always find a way to give back.  I recall a week in my life where I had something every single night.  However, those busy days and nights didn’t stop me from finding ways to support my community.  I had something 12 days in a row, all while renovating my house and teaching high school.

The Chaos

April was busy.  It started with the National Business Education Association conference in Chicago where I was gone from Tuesday through Saturday.  While conferences are great networking opportunities and can be fun, being away for a teacher is a lot of work – just preparing sub plans is exhausting!  Once I returned, the next day was Easter and then the true chaos began!

First, I had to prepare and set up for a large event that was the culmination of a yearlong high school program.  I needed to help students with set-up for their tables and products.  The following day was round two of set-up for students.  That evening was the actual event.  It was similar to an open house and nearly one hundred community members came through to see the products that students were selling.

On Wednesday of my crazy busy week, I coordinated our Backpacks for Success “Backpack Stuffing Pizza Party” at my high school.  Backpacks for Success is one of my non-profit projects that collects backpacks for students in need.  Some backpacks are donated from the community and others are purchased with grant funding that I applied for.  At the backpack stuffing party students decorate educational quotes and stuff bags with school supplies.  Not only was it a lot to coordinate, but I had to order pizzas which always has to be approved by the district before purchase.  Then, the local news arrived for an interview which added to the chaos!

The next day I was a chaperone for French Club where we enjoyed a french themed dinner.  This was an end-of-the-year celebration for French Club students.  It was a nice evening and students really did enjoy being able to celebrate the many different things they did throughout the year.

As I headed into the weekend, I volunteered at our local “For Kids’ Sake Art Auction” to give back to the community.  I was in charge of helping with th buffet.  We had a steady stream of people coming for food while music, games, and auction items took place.  This was a lovely event and a special evening of giving back at the end of a long week.

The fun didn’t stop on Friday though!  My fun continued into Saturday where I was a participant in the Cardboard Boat Regatta (for the first time!).  I was in a canoe-like boat with two high school students.  It was a lot of fun, but next up was chaperoning prom.  It was the icing on top of the large 12 tier cake!

The Moral of the Story

While it may seem like just another 12 days in the life of some stranger, it is also a great reminder of how much you really can have on your plate.  So often we let fear or our own lives get in the way of giving back.  You may not feel comfortable volunteering with a bunch of people you don’t know, but giving back adds purpose to your life.

It doesn’t mean you have to give back every single day or even every single week.  It just means that it is always possible to add more to your busy schedule.  You can read to youth, volunteer at an event, or bake cookies for your local police department.  I challenge you to channel the energy within you to give back in a larger capacity even during those really busy weeks.  Those weeks may seem like structured chaos at the time, but the lives you’re changing will make it worth it.  Plus, the feeling of purpose you will find deep down in your soul will make the busy schedule worth it.

-jj

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Inspiration is everywhere!

Inspiration is everywhere!

People change lives.  Everyday this happens, a person changes someone else’s life.  That’s quite a bit of power to be able to literally change someone’s life.  That’s actually incredible if you truly think about that.  Strangers, doctors, retail associates, food servers, teachers, police officers, managers, etc.  They all have the power to change someone’s life in such a positive and meaningful way.  Any person can change a life and I have had many that have changed mine recently.

First and foremost, I am mostly positive, not always, but mostly.  I like to believe that people do good and deep down are good.  I hope to leave my house each day knowing that there are going to be people that I have the ability to impact in a great way.  While I hope to have that impact, there are also so many people that change mine (probably without even realizing it!).  I like to think about how the small things people are doing are changing my life in a pretty cool way.  This first group of people that has regularly and frequently been changing my life are the Lowe’s employees.  They always seem to make me smile even if it’s the second or third time I’ve been in my local Lowe’s store.  They add smiles and humor to my life.  From the carpet guy to the countertop lady, to the guy in doors yesterday who said to us in a joking way, “Aren’t you done renovating yet?…” , our trips to Lowe’s have become an adventure.  Nearly every employee knows us when they see us coming, many ask about the progress on our house, if we are finished painting, requesting to see pictures, or just saying something like, “You’re back again” or “I think I’ve seen you every day this week”.  While it might seem crazy, it seems like their humor and smiles makes us feel like family.

Lowe’s might seem odd, but it’s renovation time and that means life is crazy!  I must find the small things in life and their impact is helping me get through the chaos!  As for the others, I met two phenomenal people that just happened to impact my life.  Both inspired me and motivated me.  The first, an amazingly successful person that owns a business in California.  He’s gone through many different phases in life and has had many different adventures, many of which I was a bit envious of, but mostly because they aligned with goals I hope to achieve at one point in my life.  Generally, he’s lived abroad and I dream of doing that, he has the ability to give back in a very large capacity and I hope to do that more and more, and he’s got a calm and pleasant demeanor that makes him admirable in his role as a business owner (I hope to become more calm with each school year!).  Generally, we meet a lot of people, but this was a person that I felt like really appreciates giving back and that’s of course something I can get behind!  As someone that would love to continue to expand my backpack drive, even possibly forming it into a non-profit, it was cool to hear that he has a passion and heart for giving back, too.  As a side note, I met him at a presentation he gave to my early bird class and he later inspired a story that my afternoon classes wrote together.  We created a “class story” together and it started with, “One day Mrs. Jamieson’s class went on an adventure to California to open a computer technology company…”.  It was cool to see the class use their imagination based on a speaker that impacted my life.

Finally, a speaker for my early bird class came and shared a life-changing story that was beyond inspirational.  The story he shared about his cousin who died of cancer was heartbreaking yet motivational.  He used that sadness and turned it into a way to change the lives of others.  The way he has used his cousin’s death to help others with cancer through exercise is one of the coolest, selfless, and inspiring acts that I have heard.  The amazing things that his program, Strong Survivors, is doing for cancer patients to improve their lives has made a lasting impact on my life.  It really gives me more perspective on why I think life is about helping other people.

With all of that, these people have not only impacted my life, they have helped me, motivated me, and inspired me.  They have made me laugh, smile, and reaffirm why helping people is what life is all about.  It gives you purpose and that will give more to you in life than money ever will.  Keep on smiling, giving, helping others, and #AlwaysChooseKindness!

~jj

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Sprinkle kindness everywhere!

Sprinkle kindness everywhere!

It’s been a great month because kindness is floating around everywhere.  From kindness days at my high school to the amazing night I had when I went to speak to the American Association of University Women (AAUW) group in Carbondale.  It was such a pleasure to meet and interact with such a lovely group of women who are dedicated to making their community and the world a better place for others.  I felt honored to be invited to speak to them about my Backpacks for Success project and my passion for giving back and helping others.

Backpacks for Success is a community project that I started so that I could give back to students that cannot afford backpacks and basic school supplies.  This is the third year I’ve coordinated it and each year it seems to get bigger and bigger.  This group was phenomenal to speak with because they do so many amazing things in the community.  In fact, one of the coolest parts that I learned that evening is I actually had the grandson of the women who invited me to speak in my one of my classes at the high school.  Small world!

Lastly, kindness days at the high school were fun, but the best thing about it is the door that my mom helped me create to correlate with our kindness message.  We created a door that emphasized what I think it important – sprinkling and spreading kindness everyday to as many people as possible.  Help make the world better by doing one random act of kindness at a time.  Happy 2019 – may you embark on my #ProjectKindnessBook challenge and spread more kindness where you live!

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Students help make the world better!

Students help make the world better!

Over Thanksgiving break, my husband and I were driving in the car and I said to him, “I really miss my students.  I hope they are enjoying their break, but I’ll be happy to see them again.”  Thanksgiving is a time when we often emphasize how thankful we are for our friends and families, but I also want to emphasize how thankful I am for my students.  After all, these students change my life on a daily basis – teaching me as much about life as I teach them.  Teaching is also what got me out of my 3+ years of random and chaotic employment.  I was thankful for that time and the lessons that it afforded me, but I am even more thankful of the purpose that teaching and my students give me.

I recently hosted my giving back and kindness lesson in class.  It’s my absolute favorite lesson to teach.  I bring in cookies for my students and we create cards together for senior citizens, terminally ill children, and military personnel.  It’s an amazing and fun time.  The students get creative, write thoughtful notes, and draw very meaningful pictures to raise the spirit of others.

In October, I turned 31 which meant it was time to embark on a new year of random acts of kindness.  This is my 4th year to dedicate my birthday to giving back and spreading kindness into the world.  It means that I will do a minimum of 31 random acts of kindness this year.  The more you do it the easier it becomes and you realize how much you love it.  You will probably end up doing far more than your minimum once you start.  I challenge you this #GivingTuesday to use your birthday to give back.  Get your workplace to create cards to send, bake cookies for nursing home staff, or give a gift card to a random stranger by placing it under their windshield!  Life’s too short not to spread more kindness!

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

 

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Lighting up your community!

Lighting up your community!

It’s been a busy few months for some really great things at the school where I teach and the community I live in.  There may appear to be a lot of division, chaos, stress, negativity, sad stories, awful news, maybe even hate in the world, but what I have found is there is actually even more positive stories where people are doing great things.  Here are a few examples of some awesome community kindness stories:  David Muir shared a story about a community in Milwaukee where a bus driver helped a homeless person in need who was on her bus.  I also saw a story where a community is rebuilding a school and students and teachers served Thanksgiving dinner in Panama City, Florida where there community suffered extreme devastation due to Hurricane Michael.  It’s our responsibility to spotlight amazing stories and make those the focal point today and every single day of the year.  That’s what will help make the world a better place and I think that’s something we can all agree we want and hope to see for the youth in America.  I recently reached out to the local Army National Guard to assist with team building for an entrepreneurship and leadership program.  What I got from involving the Army National Guard was awesome!  I teamed up with a recruiter who has helped with team building, boosting self-confidence, and demonstrating how to use the skills of each member on your team to accomplish goals.

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