“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”- Maya Angelou
I absolutely love this quote and think it many times throughout my day as a public educator. I so badly want my students to understand what I’m teaching, get good grades, and thrive in my classes, but above all, I want to know that I helped them become a better person. Beyond all the educational stuff, (which they will probably all forget), I want to know that I made an impact in their lives! Kindness is one of my favorite topics to talk about and share with my students. It’s crazy to me that something like kindness even has to be addressed, and I used to think it was something only kids needed to hear, but I believe the whole world needs a lesson on kindness! People go about their days thinking about themselves and rarely thinking how something they have done, will do or even something they’ve said will impact someone else. We live in a world where people love to spew insults at each other and find any and all ways of destroying someone else by tearing them down bit by bit. Kids see this in the shows they watch, from politics, from their families, so It’s not exactly their fault that many of them struggle with thinking about others. They have to be taught what kindness is and reminded over and over. I truly believe that if more people really took time to be kind to others in their day to day life, that our world would be such a better place!
Do you recall a time when a random stranger, or even someone you knew, performed a random act of kindness for you?
Do you remember how it made you feel?
I have been lucky enough to be a recipient of many random acts of kindness and I can tell you that sometimes it’s just the thing to make my day. I’ve had people pay for my coffee in the Starbucks line, write me special messages, and even buy me my favorite candy bar when I’ve been having a rough day. Even recently, I experienced kindness from two of my colleagues- A couple weeks ago, I woke up feeling extremely ill and I called in to get a sub. This particular day was a really busy day, with many teachers out due to illness, professional development or other events, and because of that, I wasn’t going to end up having a sub. Well, knowing this and not wanting to create more stress for my building, I decided to make the best of it and try and go. I made it through my first four classes, but I was just not doing well. After talking with my principal and going around chatting with the multiple subs that were in our building, asking if any of them could stay for the afternoon, and having no success, I thought I would just have to “suck it up” and deal. Overhearing my conversation with the principal, two of my colleagues came forward and said they would step in and teach my afternoon classes! This was seriously one of the most kind gestures I have ever experienced! I was able to go home, rest, and begin feeling better, all the while having peace of mind that my classes were being taken care of.
Kindness is such a simple concept, but it has such a powerful effect! It impacts those around us, creating a ripple effect, and it has powerful effect on our lives as well! Some studies have even shown that by taking 2 minutes a day for 21 days to do something kind for someone else, you are actually change the way your brain thinks. A couple friends and I got the chance to be a part of the #randomloveletters challenge this last summer and it was one of the funnest things i’ve done in a while. The randomloveletter challenge lasted for 21 days and every week included a different item to share with others through a note, or a sticky note either given to one specific person or left somewhere for someone else to grab! It was so much fun!I’ve been talking with all my classes over the last couple weeks about kindness. I’ve been sharing my own stories with them and about my experience with the randomloveletter challenge. Then I had a great idea! I wanted my students to see what it felt like to be a recipient and to also be the one to give someone some happiness. So I found some random acts of kindness cards online and printed them out for my students. They were each given one card to give to someone after they did a random act of kindness for them, and then that person would take the card and do the same. Some students were really excited about it and began thinking up ways they could make others smile. Some girls even started talking about writing out a whole bunch of encouraging quotes on sticky notes and placing them in the school restrooms. *Sidenote: I actually did this last year before the first day of school. I didn’t tell anyone I had done it and it was so much for to see the smiles on the girls faces and hear girls talking about the notes.
One of my orchestra students, who is also in my reading class, asked for the list of names of all the 7th grade orchestra students, so she could write each of them a little letter on a sticky. She came to orchestra room early one day and left the notes on the front table. As students walked through the doors, she joyfully exclaimed “check the front table… there are sticky notes for everyone!” I don’t know if anyone figured out that she was the one that wrote them, but it was so fun to watch as the students eagerly rushed to the table to look for their name! Many of them came up to me asking about the notes and thinking that I had writing them- it cracked me up! See– her simple act of writing a small message to all the students made me smile, gave her joy, and bought happiness to all the orchestra students.
It’s so easy to be kind to others, but it does require a little effort and being intentional! Like I told my students, being kind doesn’t mean you have to do something super elaborate, it could mean holding the door open for others, writing an encouraging letter or note to someone else, or even a phone call to a best friend or family member. It’s not always about the gift, it could be more about the thought!
Wanting to keep kindness and the act of paying it forward alive, I decided to do a sock drive at the school during October! I can’t wait to update ya’ll about this project and how it turns out! We have two more weeks left to get a ton of socks to donate to a few of the local homeless shelters.
I challenge you to do something kind for someone this week! Here are a couple fun ideas!
Buy someone their favorite drink
Pay for the car behind you in the drive through lane
Write an encouraging note to a friend, colleague, or your husband
Write an encouraging quote or note and place it somewhere for someone to find
Help a friend out with a task
Clean the house for your significant other or roommate
Call your best friend to chat or a relative you haven’t talked to in a while
Go pick up food or groceries for someone
Buy a cup of coffee or some food for a homeless person
Cook for someone
Pay for a families meal while you’re out to eat ( never done this, but I want to so bad)
Do someone else’s makeup
Also, in case you didn’t know….. Feb 17th is National Random Acts of Kindness Day! Start thinking now about what you might do! But remember… You don’t need a reason to be kind or a specific day! Be intentional and make it a point to make someone else smile!