I don’t know about you, but I think if ever there was a time for a little extra kindness, this is IT! Kindness boosts our connection to one another, helps soothe our anxiety, and brings about a sense of psychological safety. Let’s mobilize kindness and make a big impact, together, one small act at a time!
This year, I’ve decided to do an open-ended Kindness Invitation, that can be adapted for use in the primary, middle-school, high-school, or even hybrid classes. Educators can choose a quick and easy approach, or opt for an in-depth kindness inquiry.
It’s going to be a 5-day event centred around #worldkindnessday, starting Friday, November 13th. Please follow me over on Instagram to join in the challenge and feel free to invite your friends!
How to Participate in the Challenge
Follow me on Instagram!Morgane Michael @smallactbigimpact.If you don’t have social media, feel free to do your own challenges using the links in this blog post and share your activities with me via email.
Read the daily challenges to your students-comment, tag others to join, use the hashtag #smallactbigimpact and don’t forget to tag me in your comments/photos/examples (make sure your posts are public so I can see)!
Participate in all 5 challenges (tagging me and linking the hashtag, too) and you’ll enter to win a prizes at the end of the challenge! I’ll choose a winner by the end of November.
Spread the love and kindness to your school, workplace and community!
The 5 Day Challenge (a sneaky-peek for you planners out there;)
Allie Apels and the Kindness Ninjas
I recently had the amazing Allie Apels of @joysofkinderon my podcast to discuss the transformative power of her brainchild “Kindness Ninjas” Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program in her kindergarten class (#kindnessninjas).
Essentially, a few years ago, when Allie was faced with one of the most challenging groups of children she had ever taught, she and her teaching partner (yes, there were two teachers allocated to one class due to the high level of needs), came up with a brilliant way to encourage the development of a kind and supportive classroom. They introduced a kindness ambassador: the kindness ninja. Every day, leading up to Christmas break, Allie and her class would be greeted by the kindness ninja who would leave them notes and various random acts of kindness missions.
She explained that the experience was completely transformative. The class came together as a team and that year wound up becoming one of Allie’s favourite years as a teacher.
Kindness Ninjas Inquiry Workbook and Teacher Guide
The amazing Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt (author of Inquiry Mindset) and Allie Apels teamed together in the spring of 2020 to bring to life an amazing Kindness Ninjas Inquiry Handbook. The link to the booklet and teacher guide can be found here. This is a terrific accompaniment to this 5-Day World Kindness Day giveaway!
When Covid-19 first caused many of us around the world to go into lockdown and to run our classrooms from our couches, it occurred to me that the 21-Day Kindness Challenge would need a little Covid-friendly revamp. So…I created 21-Days of Kindness, choice-board-style.
There is an awesome list of challenges for kindness to others, kindness to the world, and kindness to self. Take a look, some of the ideas could work well for the 5-day invitation.
Kayla Dornfeld is the 2019 North Dakota Teacher of the Year, and Mrs. West Fargo International. Kayla is a two-time (2017 and 2018) Global Hundred honoree, recognizing her as 1 of the top 100 innovative educators in the world. The New York Times named her “one of the tech-savviest teachers in the United States”.
She has 13 years of teaching experience in second and third grade. Kayla holds her master’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of North Dakota. In September 2018, she received the University of North Dakota Sioux Award, the highest honor of achievement offered by her University.
Governor Doug Burgum has recognized Kayla for her contributions to education in North Dakota, and assigned her a chair on North Dakota’s Innovative Education Task Force.
She has been recognized as both an “ISTE Influencer” and “HarperCollins Publishing Influencer”. Additionally, in March 2018, she was named 1 of just 30 “All-Star Digital Innovators” in the United States by PBS. Who’s Who in America has also awarded Kayla for her contributions to education by publishing her biography.
Her work with classroom redesign and flexible seating has become the standard worldwide. She is currently writing a book about classroom learning spaces and flexible seating, titled FlexED: Flexible Seating for Flexible Learners, set to release in 2020. She is also a co-author of the best-selling book Education Write Now, published in December 2017, and 10 Perspectives on Learning in Education, coming out in December 2019.
You can connect with Kayla on all social media platforms @topdogteaching, and her student led social media accounts @topdogkids.
When starting up the year, I often refer to Dr. Brené Brown’s brilliant concept of the Marble Jar. Imagine that the trust in each of the relationships in your life is represented by a marble jar. At it’s core, Brené (yes, like most humans my age, I would like to imagine that we are on a first-name basis), explains that trust is built in the micro-moments, the seemingly insignificant moments of interaction.
Relationships are build on trust. We can deposit marbles and build up our sense of trust or withdraw them and degrade that sense of trust through our interactions. When someone is able to make more deposits than withdrawals, generally, we trust them.
Trust can be deposited through:
asking for help,
receiving the generosity of others,
giving without recompense,
contributing constructive and helpful feedback,
designating and maintaining clear boundaries,
being capable and reliable,
owning your sh*t, being a vault,
choosing courage over comfort,
standing up for someone through integrity
and creating a generous narrative about others
She also makes a note about not confusing real trust for counterfeit trust. Real trust isn’t always easy to build. Integrity is a big part of creating a sense of trust. Being a chameleon, someone who changes depending on the surrounding political and social environment does not elicit a sense of trust from people. Gossiping is the worst kind of counterfeit trust, because as much as it hot-wires fake connection, it erodes the deep sense of trust within a relationship (and can often ripple outward to the climate at work or school).
You are perfect just as you are. Remember that it’s never too late to unbecome who the world thought you were supposed to be.
There are times when you might forget your own worth. You might twist yourself in a pretzel to make someone else happy, but make yourself miserable. Just be yourself.
It is possible to be brave and scared at the same time. Don’t let fear to stop you from doing the things that bring you happiness.
Seek joy! Be enthusiastic even when others aren’t. Laugh so hard your belly hurts. Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Find sparks of happiness in tiny, ordinary moments.
The only certain thing in life is that one day you will be faced with uncertainty. You can’t control what happens to you, but you do have power over how you react to it. Write your own story.
Sometimes, hurt people hurt people. When someone tries to dim your light, remember that it takes courage to keep shining bright.
It’s ok to cry. If you don’t let the sad out, sad can turn into mad. Whether you are a boy or a girl, everyone feels sad sometimes.
Show up for your loved ones when they are suffering. Sit alongside them without needing to fix them. Simple isn’t always easy.
There will be times when you will have to protect your heart. It is possible to be a kind person and still say ‘no.’
Choose people who choose you. Surround yourself with those who see your gifts. Seek out people who already believe in you. Don’t waste time proving yourself. You might not be for everyone. And that’s ok.
Learn to give compliments from the heart. And most importantly, learn to accept compliments with grace.
The way you speak to people matters. Always speak with kindness in your heart. You just never know what they are struggling to overcome.
Don’t make yourself small in order to fit the places you’ve outgrown. It’s ok to dream big, spread your wings, and fly!
Everyone is capable of creativity. Your work will always be bad before its good. Make lots of it. Share your gifts with the world. Keep creating. Keep sharing. Keep getting better.
Done is better than perfect. Perfect is impossible. Shoot for your best, instead.
At times, you might get knocked down. Keep getting up. If you’re tired, allow yourself to rest. Keep trying. The only way to bounce forward, is to never fully give up.
Listen to others with an open heart, and don’t be afraid to speak up for what you believe in.
Every so often, ask yourself: Am I proud of the way I make people feel?
Clap for friends and strangers even when you envy their success. Their victories don’t equal your failure.
Take care of your body. Feed it healthy foods. Move it, every day.
Take care of your mind. Feed it healthy thoughts. Give it the gift of stillness, every day.
Pick yourself. Don’t wait for permission to change the world. Express yourself. Find your voice. Don’t wait. Start now.
Walk through the world trusting the compass in your hand and following the whispers of curiosity on your heart. You might be unsure of your destination right now, have faith that it’ll all make sense in the end.
We talk about self-care non-stop these days, but certainly, there has to be more to it than bubble baths and pedicures.
In this episode, Lisa and I explore the three research-based components to self-care, the importance of getting intentional with your thoughts, and we complete the episode with the most delicious 6 minute mediation! Everyone needs this episode! #kindsight 101 #smallactbigimpact #podcast
Lisa Baylis has been sharing wellbeing strategies for the last 20 years. A natural born connector with an innate ability to make people feel valued and heard, she is an instructor, a counsellor, a facilitator, and a mother. Lisa is also the creator of the AWE Method — Awakening the Wellbeing for Educators — which merges self-care, mindfulness, and self-compassion.
Lisa has a master’s degree in Counselling Psychology and a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. She has taught internationally and locally. Much of her vast teaching experience was gained in classrooms across British Columbia — from Fort St. John to the Comox Valley. Currently, she is a high school counsellor in Victoria and a point person for positive education and mindfulness within the Greater Victoria School District.
Trained by mindful self-compassion pioneers Chris Germer and Kristin Neff, Lisa is also a trained Mindful Self-Compassion teacher. She teaches an eight-week MSC curriculum in Victoria, while also running one-day AWE retreats. No matter the setting — classroom, counselling session, or teacher development — Lisa incorporates concepts of positive psychology, self-compassion, and mindfulness.
Check out her blog for ideas on how to incorporate aspects of mindfulness, and positive education into your classroom and the new curriculum.
Lisa is happy to connect! Feel free to contact her here.
While mindfulness is a component of self-care and compassion, there is more to the picture (3 elements)
Quite often when we hear the words self-care, we think of pedicures, massages, and time away with friends. We talk about examples of what self-compassion might look like and how we know when we’re filled up.
When we’re beating up on ourselves-we explore some of the ways that we can lean into self-compassion to help us.
We explore looking at ourselves through that exterior lens which enables us to be compassionate with ourselves. There’s a particularly useful exercise that Lisa takes us through when times really get rough!
Kindness has the power to change even the toughest class!
Allie Apels is a mother of two, a wife, kindergarten teacher, and Sensei to her KINDergarten Kindness Ninjas based out of Airdrie Alberta, Canada.
She is passionate about empowering her little ninjas to become kind, contributing citizens, and change makers. With their red headbands, stealth, and sneaky skills; they’re encouraged to engage in random acts of kindness (aka. missions) and good deeds within their home, school, community, and World.
Most importantly, she focuses on teaching them how to spread kindness to themselves through mindfulness. They share their heart-warming stories with the World, in hopes to inspire others to join their movement. You can get more information on her website http://www.kindnessninjasrvs.com/, follow her on Instagram @joysofkinder or on twitter JoysofKinder @MrsApelsKinder .
Good leadership can be easy to spot, but deconstructing it can be so challenging. Over the course of the past year or so, through the interviews I’ve done with truly remarkable world-class educators and leaders, I’ve learned that so much of great leadership comes from trust and the deep, intentional practice of gratitude. Nothing makes you feel smaller than a leader who doesn’t see you. When you feel insignificant, or at least your efforts do, nothing is less motivating. In fact, it’s been proven that an ambivalent leader can be as damaging to his/her employees as an outwardly ineffective leader who puts his/her employees down.
I recently learned about the recognition gap, which applies as much to organizational leaders as bosses and managers, as it does to teachers in the classroom or parents in homes.
It turns out that 80% of supervisors claim that they frequently demonstrate outward appreciation for their subordinates, while only 20% of employees report that their supervisors express appreciation more than occasionally.
So, knowing that there is a gap in perception, it’s important that leaders, teachers, and parents find meaningful ways to see and appreciate the people they serve so that these individuals feel motivated, valued, and believe that their work matters.
Here are a handful of easy ways to do this at work:
-Start a Shout-Out Board to encourage employees to recognize one another’s efforts.
-Every day, focus on one employee or student and celebrate something about them in person or in writing.
-When someone goes above and beyond for the organization (picture that student who volunteers to stack chairs at the end of the day, your child who cleans her room without prompting, or the employee who contributes meaningfully at a faculty meeting), go out of your way to show them you see and appreciate their efforts.
-Call someone and tell them specifically what they mean to you.
-Write a quick post-it for 3-5 staff members or students every day specifically thanking them for the way they contribute to the climate in your class or school.
These little things don’t seem like a huge effort on your part, but they sure go a long way in building trust, rapport, and positive morale.
I was inspired to create this post after hearing an episode of Barbara Gruener’s Corner on Character podcast episodes.
One of her guests talked about the power of mantras in helping to form a positive and encouraging classroom culture. I loved the idea. While I have strong values, I haven’t always articulated these into classroom mantras so that kids could hear how much I love, appreciate them, and how we can train our brains to overcome the tough stuff- the dips in life.
So, here are a few of my favourite mantras for the classroom. I hope you’ll share some of your own with me, too!
I am surrounded by greatness!
I am full of gratitude!
Don’t give up, don’t give in, there’s always an answer to everything.
There are no mistakes in art!
I loved you before you even showed up.
Listen to your heart; it will never let you down.
Kindness is better than getting your own way.
Judge less, love more.
Do it and forget it.
It’s not what you do, it’s what you don’t do that counts.
What makes for a powerful, memorable moment, in school or otherwise? Naturally, we all seek to be memorable. Nobody dreams of living an unremarkable life. We all want to be special to somebody. Some of us seek accolades from the masses, while others seek to be important to just a select few. That’s part of what makes us all so unique. We can all agree that there are magic moments that permeate our lives, but the tricky thing is creating magic, memorable moments for those we seek to serve. How do we make ourselves and the experiences we offer those around us, remarkable enough to make an indelible mark on our souls?
I recently read the incredible book The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath, which outlined an easy-to-follow framework for creating remarkable memories.
Here’s the framework:
E: Elevate – Rise above the every day
Rise above the every day by marking transitions in special ways (100th day of school, 50th book read), building peaks, sensory appeal, raising the stake, and creating an element of surprise for the people you seek to serve.
P: Pride – Build in a sense of buy-in and pride
Celebrate those who have worked hard to achieve their goals! Help them to see their growth. Help them to develop affiliations with you and your tribe. The #1 reasons people leave their jobs is a lack of recognition. Break tasks into small and measurable goals…celebrate every milestone. Always be appreciating and noticing people…but know whether they want the recognition to be quiet or public (that’s important to note, especially with kids). The tribe’s win is everybody’s win!
I: Insight – Help people to learn about themselves in a supportive environment
We tend to want to protect people from risk, but discomfort is where growth lies.
High standards + Assurance + Direction + Support = Insight
When we share our positive and negative moments together, lifting one another up and celebrating one another’s successes, it solidifies the bonds we have in a group. We feel tied to one another on a neuro-chemical level.
How might you apply these four pillars to create powerful moments for those you serve?