Celebrating World Kindness Day by Recognizing the Everyday Kindness in our Students and Schools
By Heather Hoopes, AmeriCorps member serving on the Hallsville Elementary School Team
Happy World Kindness Day! First recognized in 1998, this international celebration was created as a result of the World Kindness Movement and groups who dedicate themselves to spreading kindness across the globe. I didn’t know about World Kindness Day until I came to City Year, but I can see how much our students benefit from and show kindness to each other, so I’m definitely here to celebrate it!
At City Year, we embrace any opportunity to celebrate and foster kindness within our students. We do this not just by demonstrating kindness ourselves, but also by acknowledging and affirming the kindness our students demonstrate every day. Sometimes in our service we can get so caught up in addressing and redirecting challenging behavior and supporting our students with their social-emotional growth, that we can easily miss the kind things our students do, both for each other and for their teachers and communities. But by paying attention to these kind acts, I’m now starting to “see kind” everywhere!
One student I have been working closely with this year is a passionate and committed 3rd grader; you can tell he wants to make wise choices but sometimes struggles to do so. A few days ago, he and I had a conversation about being kind to others, but he seemed uninterested in changing his behavior. Then, a few minutes later, I caught him helping a younger student tie her shoes, having noticed that nobody else was helping her. Afterwards I pulled him aside to share how proud I was of him for showing this kindness when he didn’t need to, but of course he just blushed, shrugged, and said that it wasn’t a big deal. Back in our classroom, I excitedly shared with my partner teacher and our class that he was going to get an extra ticket (our classroom reward system) for the kindness he showed to the younger student. He may have blushed, but I could tell that he was proud of himself and the wise choice he had made.
The City Year team at Hallsville Elementary School is so lucky to contribute to a positive school environment with an incredible faculty and staff. Our school guidance counselor, Ms. Danielle Saitz, has been instrumental in implementing kindness both into the culture of our school and into the hearts of our students, creating purposeful lessons and crafts for students and classrooms to learn from. She intentionally exemplifies kindness in her speech and how she deals with challenging situations, and I see it working for our students every day as they adopt a culture of kindness. In fact, my students have truly been the ones who have inspired me to look at the world and the kindness of people in a different light.
Working with my students this year has already shown me the power of choosing to “see kind.” For example, instead of worrying about how much I have on my plate that day, I can choose to focus on the moment a student saw me wiping my whiteboard with my hand during a lesson and got up to get an eraser for me to use instead. Moments like these happen among my students every day, and now that I’m looking for them, I can’t stop noticing them.
The unprompted, genuine acts of kindness I see my students do both encourage me to have hope for our next generation and challenge me to be a kinder person myself. We guide our students through their schooling, instilling kindness as a value along the way, but sometimes we need to remember to just look for the kind things that our students are already doing. World Kindness Day has thus reminded me to not only be kind, but to see kind.