The ABCD’s of Kindness

This is one of those ideas that sprang into existence with a simple statement of praise – “Kevin, you deserve a big thank you from the class!  You’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty.”   Looking at the blank faces, it was clear that no one had a clue as to what the phrase meant. Launching into a brief explanation, I put the words on the board and looking at the first letters, an idea was born:  the ABCD’s of Kindness. Above and Beyond the Call Of Duty

The class contributed their ideas of how to be kind. Cards would be made with the words around the outer edge as the ‘logo’.  An enterprising young lady offered to design the card on her computer.  Copies were run off on slightly heavy paper.  As a class, we decided on values of one point, five, ten and twenty points. The teacher wrote the numbers on them.  The students took them home to design and color.  Last, the cards were laminated by the teacher and trimmed by the students. 

With the students committed and excited, it was only two weeks until a huge set of ABCD cards was completed.

The guideline was simple: If the teacher saw someone doing something kind, then points would be awarded with a card. A class discussion ensued to determine the amount of points related to the kindness involved. Much of this evolved over time as we returned to the idea for discussion and update.  After a few weeks,  the entire process was in place.  The students eventually joined in identifying kindnesses themselves.

Toward the end of the year the question arose, how would these points benefit the students who had earned them?  It was clear the teacher wasn’t trading them for dollar bills!

The final decision was an auction. Students and teacher brought in items.  On one of the last days of school, the auction was held. And, an interesting event took place.  One very thoughtful student had no ABCD cards. The class explained that he always gave them away.  And so it happened that the greatest act of selfless kindness received the privilege of choosing the first auction item.

The year ended. Although the cards were used other years, nothing seemed as wonderful as that first year when the whole class joined in an effort to acknowledge and reward their classmates who went ‘Above and Beyond the Call of Duty’ to be kind to their friends.

20105.23 download 098

One Minute to a Clean Classroom

A Teacher’s Dream – a room that is neat and clean.
At the day’s end, a classroom can be made clean and neat in a hurry!   Upfront planning with the students is well worth it.

What I did.
First,  the class and I identified a list of clean-up jobs that took less than a minute.  The details for each job were clarified by the students. If the work was loner than two minutes, then two students were assigned. The jobs were posted where students could read them.

On Monday, names were drawn and students chose their job for the week.  A student wasn’t allowed to choose the same job twice in one quarter. A few extra jobs allowed the last child to have a choice.

At the end of each day, a big deal was made out of starting the Clean-up Minute. Everyone was asked to look toward their job and think about what they would do. Then we watched the second hand until it reached the twelve. Ready!  Set!  Go!

When someone was done early, they offered help by calling out,  “Does anyone need me?”

As the minute ended, the teacher counted the last ten seconds aloud while everyone returned [Ran?] to their seats.  Admiration and pride for contributing to a great looking classroom was the final step.  (No criticism of anyone or anything. Joy is the purpose.)

When the last child flew out the door for home,  the room was beautiful – a joy to behold.  For me, this made teaching a lot easier.

2006 March 1 download 285

P.S.  The custodians loved this, too!

BONUS: During the day, the children were more alert to keeping the classroom clean and picked up.

Expand a Lesson: 15 to 45 Minutes

How many times have you faced a lesson too short for the time allotted?  This technique expands the lesson by heavily involving the students at the beginning and end of the lesson.
OVERVIEW: First, the students are challenged  to contribute to an overview. Next,the teacher teaches the topic/shows the film/reads the book, or the students read the assignment, etc. At the end of the class time, the students shared their ideas that fill in the overview.

VIGNETTE: A substitute for the music class found there was only 15 minute video on Bach for a forty-five minute class. “What do I do for the rest of the time?” she pleaded. I knew next to nothing about Bach. A teaching process was needed.

I suggested that she put the words ‘Bach’s Life’ is put in the middle of the board with a question at the top: “What can be learned about Bach’s life?”  Next, ask the students to contribute key ideas. Write them evenly spaced around ‘Bach’s Life.’ The ideas include: where born; when born; parents; marriage; famous for; problems; when died; etc. The open-ended beginning question kept them focused. [See 1008.] 

While watching the video, students were asked to record keys words/facts as they watched.

At the end of the video,  the teacher asked for their answers. As time ran out, the students just spoke their answers.

“Why do we remember Bach today?” ended the lesson. When the class was over, they still had ideas to contribute. Success was in the process, and the substitute succeeded.

NOTE: This diagram has many names. Two are a ‘concept map’ or a ‘mind map’.

20105.23 download 429

The Love of Teaching

My first college education professor asked all of us this question,  “Why are you choosing to be a teacher?” One my classmates answered, “I want to be a teacher because I love children.”  Boom! The instructor’s firm response was, in essence, “Loving the children doesn’t do it. You have to know what you’re doing.”  Now that I am on the other side of decades of teaching, here’s my take on it:  “When the heart of the student is touched by the love of the teacher, true learning takes place.”  Real learning for a student happens when a teacher appreciates the child for who he is.

VIGNETTE. A sixth grade student loved disrupting my class.  One day, as the class lined up in the room to leave, he decided it was time to teach me a lesson. Putting up his fists and taking a fighting stance, he offered to beat me up. [Mind you, he was a shade taller than I was!] That put the class on pause. My humor kicked in. I carefully copied his pose making sure he knew what I was doing. I set myself up as he was- fist up, feet spread, chin out – sighing deeply, I said with exaggerated sadness, “I know I’m going to lose, but if it makes you happy, I’m willing to take you on.” He burst into laughter – as did the class.  I don’t recommend this teaching technique, but letting him save face after putting us both into a lose-lose situation saved us.  At last the classroom was no longer a place for him to demand attention. He knew I wasn’t trying to win, I just wanted to teach. And, he realized that I loved him – just as he was.


Red rose…love.