The end of the school year can be hard. Teachers, parents, administrators, and students can all experience burnout in the last few months of school. It can help with the fraying nerves to remind everyone that school should be a place where everyone feels accepted and respected.
We believe that ending the school year with a positive school climate is just as important as beginning the school year with a positive school climate. To help, we have five suggestions for you to try in your classroom.
1. Set specific times aside for kindness in your classroom.
We all know that time can get away from us, and we don’t always do the things that we’d like to prioritize. That why you should set aside specific times for kindness — chances are better that you’ll make it happen!
Be creative! Maybe you want to declare May Kindness Month or designate a specific Kindness Week. Or maybe you want to set aside an hour at the beginning of each week. Or, begin each day with a ten-minute compliment time. Do whatever fits your personality, your school schedule, and your classroom.
2. Try these kindness rocks.
Collect lots of large-ish, flat rocks that would be good to paint words on. Make sure to clean them off. Find a space where the rocks can be spread out and easily read. Maybe you have a great window sill in your classroom that would work. Or maybe there’s a space outside near the playground or somewhere on your school grounds that would work.
Create a sign that read, “Kindness Rock Project: One message at just the right time can change your entire day…outlook…life! Take one, share one, or add one to the pile.” Place the sign near the rocks.
With paint, write kind messages on several of the rocks for example. Things such as:
- You’re doing a great job!
- You matter.
- You are loved.
- You’re brave.
Have your students write their own kind, encouraging messages on some rocks. And then invite them to take rocks, add rocks, or share rocks as they need.
This idea came from a passing mention in, My New Year Challenge: The Kind Classroom by Cheryl Mizerny.
3. Try this kindness poster.
If you’ve ever shared “Warm Fuzzies” you’ll be familiar with the concept behind this poster. This idea comes straight from End-of-the-Year Kindness! by Kim Brugger.
She recommends that you, “Display a poster labeled “I Saw Someone Doing Something Nice.” Encourage students to write classmates’ kind deeds on the poster. Several posters will soon be filled with written reminders of students’ kindness.”
4. Have students come up with their own kindness project.
Ask your students to get invested in being kind. Have them come up with their own kindness project – either for the classroom, the school, or your community!
If you need some suggestions or inspiration, check out these stories from 2016 of ways that everyday people spread kindness: 16 Unforgettable Acts of Kindness at Schools This Year That We Just Can’t Stop Cheering About.
5. Write students letters.
Similar in concept to the “Warm Fuzzies” poster above, take the time to write a kindness letter to each student in your classroom. This might be over-taxing if you have hundreds of students! But, we’ll leave it up to you if you want to accept that challenge.
We recommend getting some blank inside cards that don’t have a whole lot of space to fill. Each letter only needs to be about four sentences long. Choose one to two aspects about each student that you enjoy – whether that’s a place you’ve seen them grow during the year, their attitude, their willingness to help out, or whatever you’ve noticed about that particular student. Just tell the student something kind!
Everyone loves a handwritten letter that is full of kindness. You can give the students the letters before the end of school, or send them home on the final day with a lovely surprise to read during the summer months.
Whatever your decision, taking the time to write something kind about each of your students might also had the added benefit of making you feel more warm and encouraging toward your students! That often happens when we focus on the positives in other people.
Whatever you choose to do, if you take the time for intentional kindness practices in your classroom, it can help with those fraying nerves and burnout – not only for your students, but also for YOU!