Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Teaching Tip #168

Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #168
This was a great read I came across via Twitter a couple of years ago.  I use it often in my Teaching and Learning 250 class at UND.
I also look for it (and see it) all around me at LHS.
The first thing it takes to be a great teacher: kindness.
The author writers – “you are kind: a great teacher shows kindness to students, colleagues, parents and those around her/him. My favourite saying is “kindness makes the world go around”. It truly changes the environment in the classroom and school. Being a kind teacher helps students feel welcomed, cared for and loved.”
When I first saw the title of this Edutopia post, I have to admit that kindness didn’t pop into my mind.  Compassionate, engaging, relatable, tech savvy, and passionate all did.  But not kindness.
Kindness, though, is essential.  In fact, every time I feel guilty over something I said or did in class, it usually comes back to the fact that I could have practiced a little bit more kindness.  Instead, I responded too quickly or without trying to understand everything first.
This reminds me of an assignment Mrs. Tunseth had Kenzie do in first grade.  Mrs. Tunseth handed out sticks of gum for the students to chew.  Then she had them crumple up the gum wrappers into little tiny balls and to set them on the table.
Then Mrs. Tunseth began to talk about kindness and compassion in the classroom.  She said that every day we all come to school and we are feeling great.  We all start out like those pieces of gum, shiny and new in the wrapper.  But then someone will say something unkind or do something cruel and our wrappers get crinkled.  The more this happens, the more our feelings get crumpled up into a little ball just like that gum wrapper.
Then Mrs. Tunseth had the class try to unball (is that even a word?) their wrappers and smooth out again.  But, try as the might, the wrappers were still crinkled.  They would never be the same again.
Mrs. Tunseth explained that this is like our feelings.  We can say we are sorry or that we were wrong and apologize for saying something mean and cruel, but the harm still remains, if it is just a little crease.  And the more negative things that happen, the worse our feelings get crumpled and crushed.
Then she took all the wrappers and taped them up into a big heart up on the classroom wall as a remind to always, always be kind.
I wish I could teach like that.

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