Teaching Kindness – my plan

“Do you know the picture book, Miss Rumphius?” I asked and my current art teacher smiled and began to recite the mantra. “I will travel… live by the sea and…do something to make the world more beautiful.”

My eyes welled recalling another art teacher and best friend who loved this book, too. We worked together for many years at a small school. And when I left to teach in another district, she came the week before school started and kindly helped me decorate my bulletin boards. And then she volunteered to come in and read my class Miss Rumphus and helped each to paint their own lupine. That was the fall of 2001. Two months later, she was riding a horse, fell off and died. And now, fifteen years later, I am thinking of her so much.


Because Friday I was able to plan for two hours for our second quarter. And when I returned to my students, again I received reports about my students being unkind. I realized that I need more than just a great plan for teaching math standard 3.4. I need to explicitly teach kindness first. Without a kind environment, no real learning can occur.

So Saturday morning I headed to the library with a list of books I saw on twitter.  24 Great Books that Show Empathy and Kindness.

I decided I’d start with Each Kindness by Jaqueline Woodson  Maybe even get a bowl and give each student a pebble and make a big deal about the choices we make – good or bad –  and how they ripple out and we can never take it back. We need to choose our actions wisely and choose kindness.

As I walked the stacks in the public library, I remembered Miss Rumphius and my friend. Each year since her passing, I have hung my lupine in my classroom wanting her memory to live with me. When I think of kindness, it is her I think of most. She truly was the kindest person I have ever met.

So on Monday, prepping for my second kindness lesson after Each Kindness, I went to see if my current art teacher knew the story and would help us paint lupines. My eyes welled, missing my friend but realizing her memory lives on in the others who now are in my life. And with a plan, we WILL teach this next generation to be kind.

**If you don’t know Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, listen to it here.

If you have any more tips for teaching kindness, please share! I know I will need more than just 2. I know it will be a year-long focus!


7 thoughts on “Teaching Kindness – my plan

  1. jarhartz says:

    What a powerful slice. Kindness is the most important thing we teach. And, thank you for the link to the list. Many of these books are on my reading list, Woodson’s being the one we start the year with. Funny, my students have read that book every year since third-grade yet they need more. More reminders to be kind. In our world of being better, I think our young (and old) need to be reminded – It is better to be kind that right. (Anne Lamott)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Adrienne says:

    I love Miss Rumphius. It is an excellent way to show kids that any small act of kindness can make the world better than you found it. It used to be that everyone knew the book, but it isn’t so anymore. When I was a school librarian, I always read it because the kids need to see people doing beautiful things.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lisaorchard1 says:

    You are definitely on the right track here. Social media has opened the doors for everyone to spout off their opinion without considering the consequences, because they don’t see how hurtful their words are. Kudos to you for stepping up to the plate. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Christine Baldiga says:

    We started the year reading Each Kindness in a whole school assembly and will be creating a school quilt of kindness with everyone writing their name on a square to symbolize our unity in adding to the kind atmosphere of the school. But I love your bowl and ripple idea too! I may try that. One of my goals this year is to infuse our interactive read alouds with books focused on social emotional skills, so I too will be looking for books and ideas to bring this to discussion. Maybe we can collaborate? I am an instructional coach in MA at a PK-1 building. No pressure to say yes – just an idea.

    Liked by 1 person

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