Kindness is a life lesson that isn’t always modeled at home or in society, and it needs to be modeled and taught. When our staff had our initial meeting about the Middle School Kindness Challenge, we all agreed that it’s important to continually teach kindness in schools – so we decided to accept it.
Middle school years can be especially tough for young people. Having a sense of belonging and feeling safe and accepted are crucial for healthy development. Positive peer relationships not only promote positive self-esteem, but also academic success.
To get students excited about the Challenge, we hung posters around the school and held an assembly to celebrate the kickoff. Our teachers were awesome and jumped right on board! They conducted kindness activities in their classrooms, and our filmmaking teacher prepared his students to capture the activities on video and later published the video on our school’s YouTube page.
Yearbook students took pictures of kindness activities and dedicated a space in last year’s yearbook to the Challenge. We also sent a newsletter home to families notifying them of the program and even challenged them to start a conversation around kindness at home.
During the Challenge, students were given an opportunity to reflect on a person who has hurt them emotionally in the past and to wish that person well, to see the person in a different way. This process was intended to allow students to move past a grudge and release any anger they may have been harboring.
Students were also given an opportunity to take a stand and show their opinions on different ideas. This exercise allowed them to see the things they had in common with others as well as the differences – and how they can still choose to be friendly and tolerant.
I believe small seeds of kindness were planted in the hearts of all our students.