Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.
There was a point in life when I realized I needed to slow down and be still. It happened years ago at my first Choice Literacy writing retreat. We each selected a rock from a box. I chose the yellow one. I held the rock in my hand, waiting for the moment when we could reveal the word on the flip side. I could hardly wait, because I could feel how this word was going to be important—life changing, in fact.
Finally, after everyone in the group selected a rock, it was time to reveal the word. I flipped over the stone and my heart sank. KIND. Who needed this word? What sort of person needed to be reminded to be KIND?
At least it is yellow, I thought. I turned the rock so KIND pressed against the table and no one could see it and make judgments about me for needing to be KIND. I let go of my hopes that the yellow rock would serve as a talisman for the weekend, guiding my future from this moment on. Being a rule-follower, I still carried it with me just like we were asked.
At this point in life, I was a momma to three elementary-aged kids. We adopted our daughters from foster care when they were 4 and 6. Life became harder with each turn around the sun. I had reached a point of efficient control, but little did I know efficient control was seeping into all areas of my life.
As I carried the yellow rock in my pocket, I noticed that I walked fast. I ate fast and then zipped to the next portion of the day. I typed fast and then dashed through feedback. I even brushed my teeth fast and showered fast. My whole day was fast.
I think at some point, I decided that if I could just get things done, then everything would be fine. I bet I’m not the only one who feels this pull for efficient control. The thing is, it’s hard to be kind when you are so busy getting through the day. I made an effort to eat slower, and I was rewarded with a rich conversation full of laughter. I made an effort to walk slower, and found company on the trails. I made an effort to write slower, and found my words stacking in stronger ways.
My kids are now all teenagers, more young adults than children, and I’m still fighting my tendency to rush. Yet, I know that slowing down gives space for things more important than efficient control. Kindness thrives when there is space for it. If we slow down, kindness abounds.
This week we look at ways to foster kindness and community in schools. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Lead Contributor, Choice Literacy
Creating “world” maps is a great way to explore the territories beyond school that matter most to everyone in your classroom. Suzy Kaback explains how to make them with students early in the year as a way to get to know them as learners and community members.
Bitsy Parks comforts a crying child after lunch, and realizes how essential it is to continually slow down the fast pace of learning in her classroom.
We try. We fail. We try again. Mary Lee Hahn has written a beautiful poem about being kind to ourselves and each other in this brave new world of teaching.
Bret Turner explores the important differences between teaching kindness and justice in schools.
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Christy Rush-Levine lowers the tension level in her class over management issues by moving from irritation to curiosity, using her “inner chimpanzee” voice.
Bitsy Parks finds even the dreariest days in her first-grade classroom are infinitely more enjoyable because she’s built in routines for expressing gratitude.
In this week’s video, Dana Murphy leads a reading minilesson on theme in fifth grade, explaining how students might think more deeply about themes through characters’ problems.
In an encore video, Ruth Ayres helps a fourth grader reflect on whether she is finished with her personal narrative, and how Ruth might assist her.
David Pittman realizes he can’t begin a coaching cycle until he “prioritizes presence,” becoming a welcome and trusted addition to a teacher’s classroom community.
David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom explain how purposeful kindness can make you a better leader.
Wendy Turner shares why social-emotional learning is important for adults as well as children.
Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.
Roy T. Bennett
That’s all for this week!