Where Kindness Takes Center Stage
By Addy Scott
Kindness has always been the center of my classroom. Before diving into the year’s curriculum, I lead my students in building a community of trust, communication, and - above all - kindness. R.J. Palicio’s book Wonder struck a chord with me when I read it about seven years ago. Ultimately, that book gave me the platform on which to build my classroom community. Kindness is what really matters.
And Kindness is What We Remember
My students will likely not remember what they learned in my classroom about economics or where and when to put a colon, but they will remember how they were treated both by their teacher and their fellow classmates. I consider this a huge responsibility on par with educating my students in their core competencies.
Above my window, I display a quote borrowed from Wonder - “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” My students know that this quote comes from my favorite book and it is not just my own, but our classroom’s philosophy.
Inspired to Spread Kindness in Unlikely Spaces
This summer, I was further motivated by a Facebook post about teachers that sought to inspire kindness and confidence in their young female students. Together, these teachers collaborated and posted inspirational quotes in the girls’ bathrooms.
Research has shown that a young girl’s confidence generally peaks at age eight, and from that point forward, she becomes hyper aware of the pressures society places on her. She is more cognizant of her peers, her social standing, her body and how all this fits with her self-perception and…self-acceptance.
My goal is to show the girls I teach how to treat themselves and others with the kindness and respect they all deserve. So, I secured permission from my principal and got the help of a friend and her vinyl machine, in order to kick start our mission in the most unlikely place - the bathroom!
Locating some of my favorite quotes from pioneers like Maya Angelou, we covered the girls’ bathroom with these expressions. We plastered them on the stall doors, the mirrors, the hand dryers, every place where vinyl would stick, we stuck it.
Resonating Kindness Across the Board
Now the messages that are conveyed in the classroom can be heard and read even in the bathrooms. These are messages I cannot overshare with my students. We are all capable of achieving our dreams. We are all deserving of love and respect. And we are all responsible of sourcing the kindness at our very core and sharing it with everyone we encounter.
Addy Scott is a 37-year-old mother of two girls: Michal, 7, and Chandler, 4. She loves running, reading, and spending time with her family. An educator with 16 years worth of experience under her belt, she currently teaches 5th grade at Olentangy Local Schools’ Freedom Trail, 5th grade, located in Lewis Center, Ohio.