#kindnessninjas The October Challenge

IMG_2876Allie Apels and The Kindness Ninjas:

I recently had the amazing Allie Apels of @joysofkinder on 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.

All About Our 15-Day Kindness Ninja Video Challenge Synergy

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Not long after our conversation went live, we got the best idea ever and now…it’s about to go live!

This October, Allie and I are collaborating to bring your classroom an exciting synergy between the 21-Day-Kindness-Challenge and the Kindness Ninjas.

Every day, staring October 7th, 2019, we will be posting on our Instagram accounts 15 school-days worth of kindness ninja challenges to complete with your class. Our little kindness ninja will speak to your children through video using the chatterpix app.

We debated sharing the challenges ahead of time (we love a surprise), and decided to do so in order to give you amazing educators a head-start in your planning. Also, we will be posting the videos eventually to YouTube so that you can follow along on your own timeline at a later time!

How to Participate in the Challenge

  1. Follow us to see the videos! Follow Allie Apels on Instagram @joysofkinder and Morgane Michael @smallactbigimpact. 
  2. Watch the daily videos with your students-comment, tag others to join, use the hashtag #kindnessninjas, and don’t forget to tag us in your comments/photos/examples! We love seeing your journey, too!
  3. Participate in all 15 challenges (tagging us and linking the hashtag, too) and you’ll enter to win a prize at the end of the challenge!
  4. Spread the love and kindness to your school, workplace and community!

HERE’s A DIRECT LINK TO THE YOUTUBE VIDEOS-in FRENCH & ENGLISH 

Step-by-Step Breakdown with Prep Lists

  1. Day one: Create calming jars. Sneak into another classroom and leave the jars on the teacher’s desk for the class to enjoy.
    • Items you’ll need: A tube of clear or glitter glue, container of glitter, food colouring, jar with an airtight seal, Krazy glue to secure the lid. 

  2. Day two: Work together to create a collaborative mural with an encouraging kindness message for your school.
    • Items you might need-large bulletin-board paper, bulletin board letters, paint
    • Here are some examples of ideas that we’ve seen and love: 

  3. Day three: Line up along the hallways and offer smiles and high-fives to students when they come in from recess.ADB9C979-2E53-4B84-9B6A-2637DF7FD14B
  4. Day four: Make Thanksgiving Art for a nearby senior’s centre and deliver it to them before the holiday to make their hearts a little fuller.7531198384_IMG_9043
  5. Day five: Offer to help clean up your school grounds or a particular area of your school. Your custodian will thank you!
    • Items you might need: Picker-upper sticks, gloves, bags
    • Don’t forget to remind your kids about safety! You don’t want anyone picking up dangerous litter and hurting themselves.
  6. Day six: Make kindness pencils by attaching a kind message flag to colourful pencils, then sneak into another class and deposit them on their desks.
    • You’ll need pencils, little paper flags (white labels work, make little flags out of paper, or pay $2 to use this template 

  7. Day seven: Create a giant card for a special staff member in your school to show your gratitude for all that they do.
  8. Day eight: Bring a book from home, wrap it, and gift it to another class. Or, wrap several books and leave them in special places for members of your community to find.mrsmacsbooks
    • Mrs. McIntosh from Alberta, Canada recently did an amazing job wrapping and hiding gently loved books to her community. Check out her blog post about it!
    • What you will need: Gently loved books (one from the class or one from each student), wrapping paper (make, use newsprint, or purchase), notes explaining who it’s for and what it’s for. Check out Mrs. Mac’s example.
  9. Day nine: Write or trace notes of appreciation for the staff members of your school. Place the notes in their mailboxes or on their vehicle windshields.
  10. Day ten: Create a kindness cart to deliver cold beverages and snacks to teachers in your school (or set up the staff room for a special surprise treat day before lunch or recess):kidnesscart
    • What you’ll need: beverages (large containers of iced tea/lemonade/tea/sparkling water and coffee) or individual cans. Also, cookies/crackers and cheese/and homemade treats are always appreciated.
    • Students can make small posters or cards expressing their gratitude for those who serve the school.
  11. Day eleven: Create posters with uplifting and positive messages on them. When everyone is out for recess, tape them up on the mirrors of the bathrooms for all to see. Here is a free set of speech-bubble postersPosters to DecorateColour-in Postersor make your own (here are some quoteideas)! 

  12. Day twelve: Create kindness clothespinswith lovely messages to pin on staff and students within your school.
    • Check out some of thclothespine ideas from happinessishomemade.net about the kindness clothespins.
    • You’ll need paint, modge-podge, and some small-sized printouts of encouraging messages to adapt this project for the classroom.
  13. Day thirteen: Create beautiful kindness bookmarks with encouraging notes on them. Sneak into your school library and hide them in the books. Here is a template from TPTBe Kind TemplateMultiple Message Bookmarks 

  14. Day fourteen: Write special letters to people in your family thanking them for all that they do for you. Use fancy paper and envelopes to make it extra special.
  15. Day fifteen: Make a kindness big-book to gift to another class, to inspire them to be kind within your school. Each person can make a page to tell one way to be a kindness ninja. You could even send it to another school to spread the ripples of kindness throughout your community.

#kindnessninjas #smallactbigimpact #kindsight101

 

 

The 25 Beliefs I Once Held to be True…but Don’t Anymore

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Like everyone else I know, I have a million-and-one things I should be doing instead of writing this post right now, but that tiny fleeting voice of inspiration came knocking and tugged on my shirtsleeve. So, while the kids were napping, I did what any self-respecting mom on a ‘nap-break’ with mountains of laundry, tons of research to do, gazillions of emails to respond to, and a disaster of a house to clean…I indulged the urge to sit down with a pen and paper. I gave inspiration an inch…then, as the saying goes…time literally evaporated.

My loved ones all know my passion for lists, but this one’s a little different than the usual to-do or goal-setting lists. The following is a compilation of some of the beliefs I once held to be true…the ones I now whole-heartedly reject.

Maybe you’ll agree with me, but more interestingly, perhaps you’ll disagree. Let me know!

Regardless, I felt compelled to examine, tease-out, and share some of the strongly held beliefs I once had to illustrate that it’s very possible to change one’s mind.

Here is goes…in no particular order:

  1. Mind-games and posturing are the only road to true love. Vulnerability is for suckers.
  2. Effective parenting results from manufacturing adversity so that one’s children will toughen-up for the real world. I once heard someone say that they seek to disappoint their children every single day for this reason!
  3. Perfection is the antidote to criticism-the notion that if one achieves perfection in terms of work performance, grades in school, physically, in our relationships (parents, children, friends, spouses) that we will receive immunity from the pain and hurt that our experiences have the capacity to unleash upon us (*And by-the-way, perfection is not only a total fallacy, but it’s a dangerous and seductive illusion founded in fear.)
  4. Grief is a finite process with an end date. (*Nope. It’s more like an ocean whose waves are sometimes gentle and lapping, and other times have the immense capacity to pull you right under.  Grief is unpredictable. The kindness and bravest thing we can do for others and ourselves is to hold space for grief and sit along those in grief as they navigate its choppy waters.)
  5. Achieving your goals = happiness
  6. Beauty is objective.
  7. Parenting is easy, if you’re doing it right. (Ha! Riggghht…)
  8. The only way to navigate this world and make it out alive is to construct and dawn a thick coat of armour so strong that neither joy nor pain shall penetrate one’s tender heart.
  9. Successful, obedient students exemplify successful teaching.
  10. Being courageous is not for me.
  11. I am alone in my experiences.
  12. Asking for help is a sign of weakness.
  13. Being “good” is the only road to worthiness.
  14. Admitting to experiencing sadness, anger, loneliness, and jealousy means that there’s something wrong with you.
  15. The only way to be spiritual is to go to church.
  16. Creativity lies inherently within the individual. You either are or you aren’t. The genius resides within the artist.
  17. Everything in life is random.
  18. We must ask our passions to provide for us, financially.
  19. Forgiveness is impossible because it means condoning.
  20. Seeking and acquiring approval from others is the only way to win at life. *In the words of Seth Godin, seeking to please everyone makes you a “walking generality” instead of a “meaningful specific.”
  21. Everyone deserves a second chance. *No they don’t! Maya Angelou once said, “When somebody shows you who they are, believe them the first time!”
  22. My worthiness of love and belonging is directly dependent on my ability to earn it. It’s about hustling. *Nope. Nope. Nope! You are born worthy of love and belonging. The minute you start believing that, the more you can get down to the important, purposeful work you were meant to do!
  23. People’s personalities are fixed.
  24. I cannot write the ending to my story.
  25. Achieving and striving toward audacious goals is for other people.

Hating People Close-Up is Nearly Impossible

Hating People Close-Up is Nearly Impossible

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It was a hectic Saturday morning. Everyone seemed in a rush to attack the ‘to-do’ list so the true ‘weekend’ could commence. There would be causalities. It was inevitable.

Grey drizzle hung low in the air, immediately dampening everything in its path. With soggy urgency, people raced from the warm comfort of their cars to the refuge of grocery and home improvement stores, lists in hand.

My friend was waiting in the McDonald’s drive-through line-up when it happened.  As he placed his order, he saw a woman on a moped cautiously turning right from the busy throughway to join the line-up. Suddenly, a man driving an enormous truck hurried through the entrance of the parking lot, cutting her off and almost causing her to lose control of the moped as he found his place in line behind my friend’s vehicle.

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The woman managed to regain her composure but was visibly shaken. She yanked her moped’s handles in the direction of his truck and pulled-up next to his window with a jolt. Screaming profanities up at him through the driver’s side window, she leaned over, and standing up, started knocking and smacking at his window, urging him to engage. And engage, he did. Back against a wall, he rolled down his window and declared war. Within moments, both were hurling ferocious insults at one-another and the name-calling was gaining momentum. Passers-by were staring and rubber-necking, but no one dared step-in to intervene.

My friend, who had been watching their conflict escalate through his rear-view mirror as he waited, felt helpless. What could he do? He had to do something. This couldn’t go on like this! It could get ugly, fast.

Perhaps, he could shame these two into submission. Pressing the button, started to lower his driver-side window, adrenaline kicking in as he prepared to jump into the fray. Abruptly, he realized that adding another angry, righteous voice to the conflict would surely worsen the situation. Quickly, he raised the window again. Now, feeling even more powerless than before.

He began thinking about the two people arguing behind him. The woman had felt legitimately threatened. Devastating accidents happen all the time. The man had been careless. It could have cost her.

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Then, my friend turned his attention to the driver of the truck. He had been inconsiderate and reckless. He could have caused catastrophic damage. But, he likely didn’t set out with the intention to hurt anybody that morning. His intent had not been to hurt. It almost never is. The momentary haste and lack of empathy had caused him to err. And now, instead of humbly owning his mistake and offering a sincere apology, he allowed his fight instinct to kick-in. Now, in a threatened state, he was out for the win.

It’s hard to hate people close-up.* Most of us don’t like to zoom in on our adversaries. When we do, we risk seeing things from their side. We risk losing. It feels much safer to take a side and fight for the win. It happens all the time. We demonize people, through-and-through. Black and white is easier. Good versus evil. It’s not easy to allow and train ourselves to see the grey area. There’s too much at stake.

It feels risky to be generous with our assumptions. When bad things happen or when people hurt us, it’s so easy to over-generalize our experience. One might create a frame of reference around the experience. It becomes easier to assume that the entire world is filled with hurtful people, that everyone is deliberately out to get us, and that we can only rely on ourselves. One can easily lose touch with the inherent, imperfect beauty of humanity.

It was time for my friend to pay for his cappuccino and muffin. Still behind him, the two continued their struggle. Although he would be incapable of solving their conflict directly, he realized he could still have a positive impact. He paid for his order. Then, glancing back, he paid for their orders, too.

*Source: Braving the Wilderness Brené Brown and Peanuts (Shultz)