Tag: #ProjectKindnessBook

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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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.

Read More Read More

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Always help others…no matter what!

Always help others…no matter what!

Summer has officially been over for a month and it has taken me this long to sit down and write about someone that touched my heart when I was volunteering one evening in August.  I was volunteering at my alma mater because I love to help welcome the students back to campus.  It was a casual evening where I helped give directions to students, greet students, and welcome them during a “Back to Campus” event.  It was simple and easy to do.  I didn’t feel like I had done much other than say hi and welcome back to students.  As I was walking around at the very end of the night I came upon a student that was walking home after the event.  I walked by as I was browsing my phone and then circled back because there was something about the student that concerned me.  He had a physical handicap that made walking very difficult.  He was also staring at his phone with a confused look upon his face as if he needed something.  I could tell he was struggling so I asked if he needed help.  He said, “I am trying to figure out what direction to go to get back to the dorms.”  I explained the location of the dorms, but also wanted to make sure he could get to a bus because walking was very difficult for him.  It made me realize how much I take walking for granted.

He seemed very grateful for the help.  I actually wasn’t sure if the buses were running on their normal bus schedule so I went to verify it with campus staff to be sure he was able to get to where he needed to go.  He got the directions he needed to get to the bus stop and that was something that made me realize how important it is to offer help.  I came across this young student at just the right time to assist him with getting back to the dorms safely.

Not only did he remind me of the importance of helping others and being present rather than browsing on my phone, but he also forced me to think about how much I take my legs and feet for granted.  That student had a permanent handicap that prevented him from walking at a steady pace or maintaining quality balance.  It’s something that many of us take for granted on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.  Next time you see someone who may need help, may be handicapped, or may need guidance I implore you to do the right thing.  It’s too easy to look down, look at your phone, stare, or just simply not want to get involved with others, but that’s not the right thing to do.  We are meant to be kind and help other people.  There’s a reason why we should be kind – that reason is often to help someone else, inspire someone else, or make the lives of those around us better.  After all, you will find more purpose and meaning when you give back and help others than you will in any other facet of your life.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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How I judged someone…

How I judged someone…

This is a perfect subject as we begin another new school year.  It is a great topic to discuss and bring awareness to how we can all be a little less judge-y about others.   I’ve been taking several college classes over the last four to five years in different fields and for different reasons, but mainly because I love learning.  There were a few classes I was dreading, but not because I was worried about the work.  Remember, I love learning and part of learning is doing assignments and activities that broaden our experiences.  I was dreading it because I was worried about the professor.  I had encountered this particular professor at a local organizational meeting that I attended one evening and she seemed to be very rigid, almost grumpy.  She wasn’t overly friendly or bubbly, in fact, she wasn’t really friendly at all.  I knew she taught two of the classes I was interested in, so I would have her as a professor and that really worried me.

This is when the story changes just a bit.  I took the plunge and signed up for those classes.  I decided it was time to face the worry that I was feeling and get through those classes that I wanted to take.   This is the part where you learn that I had completely prejudged that professor.  She was a phenomenal professor that had the class organized very efficiently.  After taking her two classes, I realized how pathetic it was that I even considered letting my initial judgment of her impact taking those classes.  She could have had a difficult day when I met her that evening, she could have been facing a battle I knew nothing about, or she might just have a personality that is different than what I thought it should be as a professor.  She isn’t required to be bubbly or overly friendly and I can assure you that her teaching style is drastically different from her everyday personality.  She may not like going to meetings or she may feel awkward in social situations.  Whatever it was, it didn’t even matter.  It wasn’t important.  And it was a wonderful learning lesson for me.  I was reminded that my judge-y self needed to take a step back and realize that each person’s personality is unique and should not be judged.  Not now, not ever.

And so the complete irony of the situation is not only was I reminded to be less judgmental, BUT I also loved her two classes!  She helped me grow throughout those two classes and made me view and look at things in different ways.  And for that, I am very thankful.  So with this blog, I challenge you to remember that there is no need to judge others…we can always let others do their own thing because we all walk different paths and lead different lives. 🙂

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Making ‘thank you’ your regular reality.

Making ‘thank you’ your regular reality.

The last week of school I wanted my students to be extremely comfortable with the concepts and topics that we had covered over the 18 week semester.  Further, it was important to me that the students could look beyond the test and the multiple choice questions.  I really hoped that they could apply the information on taxes, checking and savings accounts, and renting an apartment after graduating high school.  Midway through the week, I had a rather shy student come up to me and in the most genuine voice say, “Thank you so much for reviewing with us this week, Mrs. Jamieson.  I really appreciate all the time you have spent to do this.”  It was a simple gesture, but meant a lot that he chose to say that.  A simple thank you really is as easy as that!

My first year of teaching at my current school I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants during parts of the semester.  I started in the middle of the year and had very little prep time to get a classroom ready and activities prepared for class.  I remember toward the end of the semester receiving a card in my mailbox.  I opened that card to find a thank you note written from one of my students.  He was thanking me for being his teacher.  He wanted me to know that he thought I was doing a great job.  It meant a lot to me to receive that note.  I felt so lucky to have such a genuinely kind and appreciative student.  And, to this day, I still have that note.

While those thank yous really inspire me and give new perspective, sending and giving thank yous is what really makes my heart happy.  I love seeing others when they feel appreciated or surprised by a gesture of kindness.  I recently went to a conference that had a small team that worked extremely hard to plan meaningful sessions.  I could tell they worked long hours and had planned for months upon months.  I sent a personal thank you card to each person on that team to show my genuine appreciation for the work they had done.  So often we attend large events, galas, conferences, or fundraisers that caused a group (often small) to work their butts off to make it a phenomenal time for others.  It is usually nice for someone to acknowledge their work and the time they spent to execute it.

Recently, I had a friend who was getting ready to leave the school I am at to start a new adventure.  We were not close friends, in fact, I only knew him on a small level.  Before he went back to his city life, I wanted him to know how much I appreciated meeting him and having him as an aide for the very short time that we worked together.  He was delightfully surprised by the thank you, which is one of the best ways to thank someone!  Lastly, I chose to take bagels and cream cheese from Panera to an office where I do a very small amount of contractual work.  It’s a small group of very hard working individuals who are very kind and friendly toward me.  I randomly thought it would be fun to surprise them to let them know that I see how hard they work each day.  I got there with the bagels in hand and they were thrilled.  The director came to me and said, “We have never had someone do something like that for us.”   So, next time you have the chance to do something small, or to do something big, just do something to show appreciation and to thank others.

I hope these stories inspire you, motivate you, and cause you to surprise others with cards, food, or other ways that show appreciation for what they do.  Let’s make sure that thank you is a always a reality.  It will change your day by making the day of those around you better!

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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Reach out and touch a heart!

Reach out and touch a heart!

A day is often filled with lots of stressors, usually things that make life a bit chaotic, but there are so many little moments in-between that make life amazing and worth all those exhausting and stressful moments.  As a teacher, I love the little things that make my students smile, laugh, and allow me to see a different side of them or witness them in a different light, even for just a minute or two.

I am like any tired teacher, CEO, janitor, parent, customer service representative, lawyer, doctor, etc because I am often overwhelmed by my post-it note reminders and to-do lists.  I have had some tough days lately filled with anxiety, tears, and even questioning what I am doing as a teacher.  I had a few patches with several complex situations (actually, three specific stressors) that made my life feel like it was spinning in circles.

During those spinning circles, there were two students that made an impact on my life.  One student who had been struggling recently came to me and asked if I could help her with finding a job.  As a Business Teacher, I was thrilled to be able to offer her assistance and that she showed such motivation by coming in after school to get help.  I answered her questions and assisted with a resume.  She was thrilled by the small amount of help that I had offered.  The next day she came in very excited to tell me that she had an interview coming up.  It was actually one of the first times I had seen her smile and saw such emotion in her personality.  I was very excited for her.  I congratulated her and told her I wanted updates on the job (basically so that I could cheer her on along the way as she started this new adventure).

This next young lady asked the most simple question, but it left a smile upon my face.  She is a quiet student and I really haven’t gotten to know her that well since it’s a new semester.  She’s always been very respectful and honest, but I could never tell whether she likes my class, hates my class, or just tolerates it since it’s her consumer education credit.  She came up to me at the end of class and in the most innocent and sweet voice she said, “I applied for a job, Mrs. Jamieson.”  I said, “That’s great, I hope you get it!”  She followed that with, “I did the online application, but I have this feeling that I should call or do something else, but I don’t even know what I would even say.”  I was impressed with her admission and how candid she was with me.  After all, I didn’t realize she trusted me or felt comfortable in my class yet (mostly because she’s quiet).  I said, “I would actually go to the place you applied and tell them you submitted an online application.  Explain to them that you wanted to confirm that they received it and hope they contact you soon to discuss the position.”  I explained to her that this gives the employer a chance to see her and it may set her apart from other applicants that don’t follow through after they submit the application.  She told me she felt relieved about what would come next.  She smiled and as she left, I said, “You know this means you have to keep me posted on your job prospects and how it goes!”

What’s the point of these two stories?  It’s quite simple.  Reach out and help others, touch their heart and in turn it will touch yours.  These young ladies did just as much, if not more, for me as I did for them.

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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An open letter about kindness!

An open letter about kindness!

I just celebrated my 30th birthday a little over a month ago.  It’s always an exciting time to celebrate my birthday, not because I get gifts or eat my favorite local pizza, but because it starts a new year of random acts of kindness.  It’s a new year of pledging to do a minimum of 30 different surprises of giving back, helping others, and spreading more kindness out into the world.  The world has enough craziness, chaos, and uncertainty in it that every little bit of kindness helps.

My ultimate dream through my random acts of kindness is to be the person on Ellen that gets to surprise a deserving family or person of something extraordinary that will change their life – notifying someone they will be able to provide presents for their kids on Christmas, a new car that allows them to get to work safely, helping a college student pay for tuition who may not otherwise have the opportunity, supporting a food drive or coat drive, etc.  My favorite acts of kindness are the random ones to strangers and people I barely know.

So, one day I hope to be that person that can spend an entire day(s) or hour(s) surprising others with things that will change their life.  After all, when you spread kindness and give back you are changing the world one good deed at a time.  Keep that in mind today and every day, not just around the holiday season, on #GivingTuesday, #SmallBusinessSaturday, or during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And, remember to join me on the #ProjectKindnessBook pledge and follow my Project Kindness by using your birthday as the minimum number of times you give back, help others, and spread kindness throughout the year. Use #ProjectKindnessBook in your post to show you have made the commitment to making a difference in the lives of others and changing the world around you.

Simple and easy ideas include leaving a note for a veteran, baking cookies for your local police or fire department, reaching out and thanking your child’s teacher, leaving a large tip for a server, buying someone’s coffee or meal, and donating food and coats throughout the year.  My high school students created cards for veterans, the elderly, and sick children this week to celebrate others.  This small project helps the students see how their gesture can change the life of someone else.  Keep spreading cheer and kindness…it’s the best gift you can give during the holiday season and every day throughout the year!

~jj

#ProjectKindnessBook

#AlwaysChooseKindness

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