Thursday, January 19, 2017

Kindness Matters: Motivational Cards for Students and Teachers

From the beginning of my teaching career, promoting kindness and positivity in my classroom has been a top priority for a few reasons. I wanted my students to feel comfortable and to know that I am one of their biggest champions and cheerleaders. In addition, I  wanted to create a classroom community where students are not afraid to be themselves or make mistakes. I wanted my students to know that even though things may get tough or seem impossible that working hard and giving their best effort was appreciated. I wanted my students to embrace the philosophy that it's okay to make a mistake and that every success, no matter how big or small, should be celebrated. 

In the past, I have used a variety of methods to recognize my students and promote positivity. Here are photos of two of my favorite ways that I have used to instill kindness and encouragement into my classroom community and the inspiration behind my newest idea.
A few years ago, I discovered an amazing idea while browsing Pinterest. Student Shout-Outs are a simple tool to allow students to recognize their classmates. At our school, teachers are allowed to recognize students with Bulldog Brag Reports and I thought that this would work perfectly with that reward system. I created all the resources that I would need to implement this system and introduced it to students on the first day of the new school year. Students were allowed to grab shout-out slips at the beginning or end of class to recognize their classmates. At the end of each week, I selected one entry to be the "Student Shout-Out of the Week". That student would get a small prize while all the other entries would get Bulldog Bucks. On Monday, I would hand out the shout-outs to any students that had received them. It was so heartwarming to not only read the kind words that students wrote to one another, but to also see the reactions and smiles from the students who received a shout out.

Another way that I have used to encourage kindness and positivity with my students is through personal notes. Many years ago, I created teacher post cards and had them printed at Vistaprint. These post cards were used to encourage students who were struggling in my class and to recognize student growth and successes. Although it can take quite a bit of time to write these notes to my students, it was definitely time well spent once I would see the reactions of my students. Their smiles, happy responses, and hugs are one of the thing that made teaching such a rewarding job. 

This brings me to my newest idea to promote kindness and positivity in the classroom. Since I have experienced success with both of these tools, I contemplated how I could combine them to create an even better strategy.  The result of my brainstorming was the creation of Kindness Matters: Motivational Cards for Students and Teachers. Each motivational card contains an inspiring quote or words of wisdom that are easily relatable to both students and teachers. There are a variety of ways that these cards can be used to not only recognize or inspire students and teachers, but also allow students to spread kindness and encourage others.

 photo www.GIFCreator.me_dmVvwe_zpswq1uh7lr.gif

Here are a few ways that you can start using these cards in your own classrooms today:

Idea #1: Print out these cards on cardstock and laminate them.  Use the laminated cards to create a bulletin board or classroom display.

• Idea #2: Print out these cards and keep them in your desk until needed. If you see a student or colleague who looks like they need a dose of encouragement and positivity, hand them out to those students or teachers.

• Idea #3: Print out these cards and use the blank side to write an inspiring notes to students or teachers. 

• Idea #4: Print out these cards and keep them in a place that is accessible to your students. Explain the purpose of these cards and set expectations for students to use them. Encourage your students to write notes that recognize or inspire their classmates or teachers.

Do you have any other ideas on how these cards can be used to promote kindness and positivity in your classroom and school? Leave them in the comments below.

Thank you to Darlene from ELA Buffett and Pam from Desktop Learning Adventures for hosting this awesome blog hop that celebrates #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths. Check out the other blog posts from the Secondary Teacher-Authors below.