Random acts of kindness - Students take note of positive actions

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By Pam Reinig

Register Editor

Call it a case of life imitating art.

After seeing the movie “Wonder” and listening to their homeroom teacher read the book it’s based on, Central 4th and 5th graders started writing notes about classmates doing nice things.

“I wanted them to think about what they could do to be kind to others,” said Central teacher Cheryl Kremer, adding that her students enthusiastically embraced the assignment. “After a few days, I had to clarify that they should also be doing kind things for each other—just being a good student in the classroom, hallway, and playground was not enough!”

“Wonder” is the story of young boy with distorted facial features. After years of homeschooling, his parents enroll him in a private academy where he’s often bullied and ridiculed. The movie has clear, positive messages about choosing kindness, valuing friendship and appreciating people for who they are rather than what they look like. The Central students saw the movie at Elkader Cinema as a group and later discussed it. From their responses, the “kindness bulletin board” was born.

“The students have enjoyed writing about the kind things others were doing,” Kremer continued, “and they love to see their names mentioned. I believe it’s encouraged students to look for opportunities to do nice things.”

Kremer said the exercise has had an unexpected impact on classroom environment: “It’s improved the climate in our room because the students are noticing all the little, but necessary, kind things we do for each other throughout the day.”

Notes are written on small pieces of paper and touch on myriad acts of kindness from sharing school supplies to holding doors open to stacking chairs for others. “Katie helped me clean my locker,” wrote one student. “Braxton threw my papers in the recycling,” wrote another. “Vaughn passed me the ball yesterday at recess,” wrote a third.

Kremer has received more than 140 “kindness notes” that she’s affixed to a bulletin board in a pattern that forms a single word: K-I-N-D.

With the end of the school year approaching, the days are limited for the “kindness board.” Kremer is hopeful, however, that the messages it conveyed with stay with her students long after the school year ends.

“I hope that even when the board comes down and is replaced with something else, they will remember that it is the job of each of us to do the kind thing when given the chance,” she said.

 
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