Because October is National Bullying Prevention Month, we’re asking MSTA members how they create a culture of kindness within their classrooms. Throughout the month, we’ll share responses from educators across the state, in an attempt to encourage and inspire all readers to work to promote kindness throughout all schools.

We asked MSTA members how they promote kindness in their classrooms. Here’s what they said.

“Good Things” is something we do every day before we start our lesson. It gives students a time to talk about what positive things they had happen throughout the day. It is normal for students to point out kindness they see from others and how it impacted their day.
In my Yearbook class, we have a “Kindness Jar” that is always full of anonymous notes from students. They take a few out every few days and read them in front of the class. Most of the notes are how another student had inspired them or how proud they are for their growth. Jennifer Moore, St. Clair High School


Kindness flourishes in my classroom daily! With the aide of various bucket filling books, I begin my 4th graders’ year with reading about how we each have invisible buckets we carry around in our hearts. Every day, our buckets are either filled or dipped into. So, we can be either bucket fillers or bucket dippers. Bucket filling is saying nice things to others, complimenting someone, smiling at others, etc. Bucket dipping consists of mean words and actions, bullying, pushing, calling someone a name, etc. My classroom even has a Bucket Filling Job that students can hold. In this position, they fill out bucket filler notes ( I provide the forms) to all students in my classroom, usually weekly. Janet Glenn, Noel Elementary


I think that one of the biggest issues students have today is a lack of kindness to themselves. To battle that, I have a rule in my classroom where they cannot call themselves stupid or make suicidal jokes. If anyone says something like, “Ahh…I’m so stupid. I can’t believe I just did that. I hate myself,” I stop everything I’m doing and immediately make them rephrase it in a way that doesn’t cause them to emotionally attack themselves. Christina Behl, Montrose High


Whenever a teacher in our district sees an unsolicited act of kindness in our school, we turn it in to the principal and he announces it during our morning announcements with a shout out to that student and will give him a special reward. Barbara Soemo, Scott Co Central High


This year I am hoping to have a “shout out” pad in my classroom for kids to write celebrations focusing on themselves or others. This is a spin-off from Stargirl. I have it ready, but have not taken the time to roll out the concept to students yet. Additionally, I am looking for ways for my community to reach out to others and spread kindness. We have made cards for a school in Texas after the devastation of the mass shooting at Walmart. Additionally, we have a student who is receiving treatment for an illness — we made him acrostic poems and a video to send home to him. There was a student who missed almost a week of school and was reportedly in the hospital. I wanted to send her a note and asked if anyone in my community wanted to sign it as well. Finally, as a promotion of kindness in our school, I’m creating a service group, “More than Me.” We will do a variety of service related activities to show kindness, care, and love to our school and community. Julianne Higer, Savannah Middle


I have recently shared with my classes that I have implemented a wellness project within our CTA for our faculty and staff. We have placed “Pick-me-up Pickup Trucks” in each teacher workroom across our district. These trucks have enclosed beds and allow for faculty and staff to drop a note about other staff members that may be having a rough time personally or professionally and need a word or kindness or “pick-me-up”. Our CTA officers collect these and send out small tokens of kindness to those needing it to remind them that they are a part of a group that cares for one another. My students loved the idea and said they would really like to do something like this for the student body. I’m hoping our student council may be able to make this happen. Valerie Ward, Kelly High