Starting the Day Right
Getting wound up in the day before it begins is common. We sometimes forget things that can set up the day to make it positively unforgettable. Many of those things are so small and easy to do that they’re almost hidden. Here’s one that I had the privilege of listening to for a few of the best teaching years of my life.
I had this great principal, who would begin each day’s morning announcement with variations on this theme: “Good morning, I’m so pleased you’re here today. Remember to be kind to one another today.” Or “Be kind and do something nice for someone today.”
There were, of course, the usual morning announcements by kids and adults, but that kindness foundation was not only the right start for the day, but it helped promote an atmosphere of kindness throughout the day. I cannot tell you how many times I referred back to that morning kindness statement during a school day. Asking students to share the statement they had heard during class was a good reminder. It also put a little pressure on the principal to be creative with that simple and powerful announcement each day.
At the end of the day, the announcements and the packing up for home usually were in competition, but the principal made a point to say something like, “Thank you for being kind at school today. Remember to be especially kind at home, too.”
Between those announcements, and my own class mission statements, where students wrote how they saw themselves as students and people—and best of all—how they’d like others to see them—I had a simple and effective blueprint for student respect and kindness each day. Personal student reminders, as to how they really saw themselves, in their own mission statements, made negative behavior a very rare occurrence. And those mission statements were living and breathing throughout the year, too. As students thought more about them, the statement updates grew and matured.
So, in this time of large units on preventing bullying and modifying behavior, instituting a few simple ideas may help promote the environment for kindness we all need to hear and see each day. It might just mean starting the day in the right way.