Kindness in the classroom: sharing is caring

Following up from my last post on fostering emotional literacy in the ELT classroom, I want to share with you today a quick and easy activity that can help promote kindness and build a classroom community.

With my very young learners I have introduced an appreciation board to make students recognise their own actions and behaviours and those of their classmates. At the end of each lesson I dedicate five minutes for students to individually nominate one student who has done something they are grateful for and I ask them to write a thank you note. I can introduce ambitious language through sentence stems and these can vary from being thanking someone for sharing something, helping them do something, being funny, smiling, or simply making someone feel appreciated. Once the thank you notes are completed on post-it notes for ease, they can be displayed on a board in the classroom where students can read them. I’ve asked students to keep them anonymous and as a teacher I monitor the notes to make sure everyone is included, adding my own notes where necessary.

It’s such a small, simple gesture but it has had an incredible impact on the dynamics of certain classes, particularly those where competitiveness was begin to show and one-upmanship was starting to develop. Now students are striving to help each other and make positive changes. It has helped construct respectful relationships and develops a real sense of classroom community, and students leave the class feeling positive as individuals and as part of a group. Here is a simple online version if you would like to try it but are online using the fabulous Google Jamboard.

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