Just about a year ago I took a trip with my daughter to India. It was life-changing in so many ways, but one comment from our driver particularly stands out in the afterglow of Thanksgiving. Our driver was well educated and well-traveled and had lived in the United States for a few years. So I asked for his impressions of America, and his answer was altogether unexpected.
He commented on how nice we are to one another. As evidence, he pointed to the fact that we open doors for one another. It still warms my heart to think that such a simple and ubiquitous gesture could make such a positive impression on a foreign traveler.
Being kind certainly benefits international relations, and it’s often lauded as a virtue within family and friend circles. But it also has a role to play in creating a classroom culture that supports critical and creative thinking. If you want students to freely make mistakes and learn from them, to persevere through setbacks and tackle challenging problems, they must feel safe emotionally and intellectually. So why not use the holiday months to explicitly teach kindness and to foster it as an integral expectation in your classroom?
Challenge your class to a game of Random Acts of Kindness BINGO. Divide your class into teams and give them each a different arrangement of this BINGO board. Reward a winning team each week!
P.S. Next time you have the chance, hold the door open for a stranger. Kindness matters.