The Middle School Kindness Challenge is a unique collaboration among leading education organizations, and it’s atypical in education because it’s focused specifically on kindness. It is often the case that large-scale school climate improvement initiatives can be overwhelming, hard to administer, somewhat of a burden, and not fun or engaging. They’re usually designed to measure indicators of school climate fairly well, but they often fail because the recommended structural changes aren’t well-aligned to the schools’ unique cultures or the makeup of their communities.
Also, the revolving door of education leadership (the average tenure of a superintendent is less than 3 years) causes huge pendulum swings that make it hard for schools to land on something solid and predictable.
Schools don’t have to worry about us – we’ll be there for them throughout and beyond the Kindness Challenge, and we take a unique approach to an inarguable, universal concept. We can offer kids, teachers, and administrators a positive direction and sense of predictability with our program and approach to teaching, fostering, and celebrating kindness. We aim for the Kindness Challenge to be engaging but also low-stakes (there’s no penalty if you don’t complete it) and value-added. It’s flexible and customizable. It will be fun for schools to complete successfully.
I’m most excited to see schools accept, complete, and help us improve the Kindness Challenge. Something I learned in the federal government is what frustrated states and districts the most was that there was usually very little in the way of a feedback loop. Policies were too often one-size-fits-all, but a signature design element of the Kindness Challenge is for teachers and leaders to tell us about their experiences implementing the challenge in real time.
This is a tremendous opportunity to help make education in America better by working in partnership with schools to make the Kindness Challenge better. It will be a rare thing for teachers across the country to share in real time this kind of experience in a school climate initiative. They’ll get to help and support people and kids that they’ll never know and never meet. How often do we get to have that chance in life?