It all began when my car gave a slight shudder as I drove down the interstate one cold, dark evening. Now, in terms of things you don’t want to experience, your car rumbling ominously on a dark highway would rank somewhere between a phone call from the IRS and a full-body case of poison ivy. It is most decidedly not good. Sure enough, within a minute my acceleration fell, and by the time I made it to the edge of the road my car was effectively dead.

The next few hours were an exercise in misery. I had to call a tow truck and direct them to my location, then sit awkwardly in silence as we drove to the nearest repair shop, which closed for the night. At that hour there were no Uber or Lyft drivers available, but I managed to reach a couple I was friends with, and they agreed to give me a ride home. Standing in the dark I kept thinking about my car: how much it would cost to repair, how badly it would impact my savings, how I would navigate work the next day. Overall, not one of my better evenings.

When my friends finally arrived to pick me up, I slipped into the back seat of their car and was presented with a small box.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“A cupcake.” She replied, “It seemed like you were having a rough night, so we bought you a cupcake to cheer you up.”

Suddenly, all the problems that had been weighing me down felt a little bit lighter. That’s the power of kindness. Just a little can go a long way.

Bringing Kindness to the Classroom

So, what does this have to do with your classroom? Well, students are human too, and just like everyone else, they can have bad days. Maybe they failed to get a role in the school play or a spot on the sports team. Maybe they had a fight with a friend, or maybe the stresses of life are starting to wear them out. As their teacher, you’re in a unique position to show them you care.

Do something nice for them and watch it pay dividends. Even if you do it for the sole purpose of the payback, it still counts. You’ll find students who have been shown an abundance of kindness will more quickly repay your efforts, but it’s the ones who don’t repay right away that need it the most. Don’t give up on them. Sure, kids can be cruel at times, but never underestimate the power of kindness.

Everyday Opportunities

Not sure how you can incorporate kindness into your everyday teaching schedule? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Write a note telling them what you appreciate about them.
  • Offer to carry something for them.
  • Let them borrow something they know is important to you.
  • Did they fail a quiz or project? Give them an opportunity to make it up with a learning exercise or extra credit lesson.
  • Recognize and celebrate their achievements.
  • Provide a listening ear when one is needed.
  • Are they struggling with a specific subject? Take an extra moment to help them find their footing.
  • Help them discover and pursue their hidden academic talents.
  • Are they trying out for a sports team, a play, the science Olympiad? Offer them a word of support before they go.

It doesn’t take much to offer encouragement to your students, but even a small show of compassion can make a world of difference. Supported students are far more likely to pursue curiosity, collaboration, and creativity within their classroom, and in the end, isn’t that what education is all about? Just remember, if you want to see your students thrive, kindness goes a long way.        

What about you? How do you demonstrate kindness to your students? Who needs your kindness most? Feel free to share your strategies in the comments below!

Content for this blog was drawn from the writings of Terra Tarango.

Editor’s Note: Today’s image comes from the book Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller and Jen Hill. Find your own copy at Amazon today!