2015-11-13

By Maria Cassidy, AmeriCorps member serving on the BMC Software team with Irving Middle School

Every day is Student Kindness Day at City Year. We live and breathe the cardinal value “Students First, Collaboration Always.” With such a laser focus on students, it’s is easy for me to forget the latter part: Collaboration Always. At Irving Middle School, AmeriCorps members are paired off and planted in a classroom. Every day, I work with my partner teacher and partner AmeriCorps member to create the best possible environment for our students to learn and grow in. Developing partnerships with my team and teacher is key to achieving this goal, and kindness is vital to developing these relationships. Another cardinal City Year value is Excellence. The way I think about being excellent involves a mindset of seizing the opportunity to be kind whenever it arises. Troy Bolton said it best: 

We’re all in this together 
when we see 
there’s a chance 
that we have 
and we take it.

In honor of World Kindness Day, I proudly present 10 Acts of Kindness You Can Do For Your Partner Teacher and Teammates: 

1) Bring cookies or munchkins
I always underestimate this because it is so simple. Just imagine what it would be like at 6:45 a.m. to hear your teammate say “I brought cookies for everyone!” 

2) Extend help before they ask. 
Anticipating someone’s needs takes a whole lot of empathy, but it tends to be extremely rewarding. It shows thoughtfulness and is a manifestation of partnership. It shows you know your teacher and her classroom really well, or that you put yourself in their shoes because you cared.

3) Ask for advice or help
Overdoing how much you ask of people can burden someone, so be strategic about it. Some people love to be asked for help, especially if it leverages their strengths. The gesture can remind someone they are really good at something, show they are a wanted part of the team, or give them a small sense of ownership amid the chaos of service. 

4) Offer to shoulder some of their burden
Ask if they need help with anything. When you also feel super busy, be specific- “I have half an hour at the end of the day. I noticed you’re stressed, is there a task you need done that I can do?” Even if they do not need help, or it does not work out, simply asking reminds everyone that we are resources for each other. My team is all about teamwork.

5) Validate their feelings
This could come in the form of practicing active listening, writing them an appreciation, or narrating a positive about their work or being. “I love how you always tell us why you do what you do, Ms. Mason!”

6) Ask how ___ is going.
Whether it’s their day, their intervention time, their leadership roles, or their outside life, most people like talking about themselves and mentally revisiting the things they have chosen to make a big part of their life.  

7) Say thank you
We have an entire City Year proverb for this (also known as a "Putting-Idealism-to-Work" idea): "PITW #166: Always Say Thank You- Right Away!"

8) Compliment them
Verbalize how much you love something about your teacher, anything from their fashion to classroom vision. 

9) Be transparent about your actions, reasoning, or action plan
Making your thoughts explicit offers powerful information to your partners and fosters either trust or intelligent discourse, both of which are typically good things. 

10) Offer your personality
Draw caricatures. Tell a joke. Make a poster. Share fun facts. Lead a wacky readiness check. Whatever your light and fire is, let it shine! The familiar is comforting, and the surprising is joyful.

Together, together, together everyone
Together, together, come on let’s have some fun
Together, were there for each other every time
Together, together come on let’s do this right.

 

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