Out of This World Literacy : 4 Ideas to Spread Kindness at Your School with Freebies Plus a Personal Story
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4 Ideas to Spread Kindness at Your School with Freebies Plus a Personal Story

Hi Friends!

I apologize in advance for the lengthy post.  I am very passionate about this topic and wrote my way into a personal story about how powerful being KIND can really be.

So, I've been thinking...  

** What if we started off our new school years with an intentional effort to spread kindness in our classrooms?

** What if we found a way to create a classroom where simply being kind to everyone comes first?

** What if that spills out over into the hallways?

** What if it even makes its way into the bathrooms? (I know, sounds gross...but hold tight!)

I think that simply being kind to everyone, even when we are tired, hungry, or just plain fussy, is a great way to keep positive energy in our classrooms!

We are the leaders in our classrooms.  And we all know that a group is only as good as its leader.  So why not go out of our way to model kindness every day, especially to the kids who we feel don't deserve it?  Or even the ones who aren't so kind to us in return?

I came up with 4 practical ways we can all help spread kindness throughout our classrooms and our schools.

These are not crazy elaborate ideas.  They are actually quite simple, making even less of an excuse for us to not be intentional about being KIND every day!

NUMBER 1: Introduce Kindness Cards

The idea here is to give students quick access to kindness cards so that they can send a little love to a classmate or other adult in the school.  

They may see a friend doing something really awesome.  Or they just borrowed a pencil.  Whatever it is, kids can share kindness with their friends.  

They could even give kindness cards to the teachers, parents, custodians, secretary, special guests, principal, and on and on!  The ideas for kindness cards are limitless.  They are so simple, yet so powerful.  

Be intentional about spreading kindness with them!

Click the image to get your FREE set of kindness cards!!

NUMBER 2: Make Smile! mini posters for the bathroom mirrors!

I got this idea when I woke up one day and went to the bathroom in our guest hallway.  I noticed a heart-shaped piece of construction paper taped to the mirror.  

I immediately grumbled to myself, "oh great, what did the kids do to destroy the house now?" (this was pre-coffee).

But, then I saw the message...

I COMPLETELY changed my attitude from one of annoyance, to a smile.  My entire body relaxed.  The message had me thinking, can I be nicer?  Especially to my own kids?  The answer was yes!!  

I think there's always room for more  kindness...at home...

at school...

and YES friends...

even in the bathroom!

So, I made these Smile! templates for everyone to use.  Your kids can make their own out of construction paper, or they can use the following templates. 

Click on the image to grab the FREE Smile pages!

NUMBER 3: Plaster the halls with Smiles!

One simple smile can turn someone's entire day around!

Why not make smiling in the halls a part of your school's culture!?

Have your kids decorate posters reminding their friends (and adults in the building) to smile.  They can even add fun quotes or silly drawings.  Throw jokes on posters too.  Keep learning fun by spreading some positivity and smiles all over school!!

Have your kids create their own posters, or click on the link below for these FREE templates!

NUMBER 4: Build Each Other Up With Kindness (the long, personal story part)

I will NEVER forget my fifth grade teacher doing this activity with us 26 years ago (yes, I gave away my age).  

Honestly, I can't remember her name (bad I know) or anything else that happened as far as learning that year.  

This activity is the ONLY thing that truly stuck with me through the years.  

My fifth grade teacher (can't say her name because I literally can't remember) had us all complete a compliments page for every member of our class.  We sat at our desks in rows (it was the 80's people) and passed the pages up and down the aisles.  The only direction we had was we MUST say something kind about whoever's page was in front of us.

The most glorious part of the whole activity was when we got our own pages back.  Everyone was glowing from the kind words that were written on the page.  

This single activity COMPLETELY changed the energy of our class.  We were all suddenly nicer to each other.  We walked around proud and confident in who we were.  

I'll NEVER forget the feeling.  

You can grab these free pages to use or create your own

Before I end this post, let me tell a personal story that speaks to the power of KINDNESS 

You see, teaching content is important and so necessary.  BUT I believe it's the feelings that impact our students the most.  

Kids know when teachers don't like them.  Kids FEEL when they are undervalued.  And worse...they REMEMBER those feelings.  They let them be a part of WHO THEY ARE.

Think back to elementary school.  Or even worse,  MIDDLE SCHOOL!  I remember SO many things from those days.  And almost all of the events I remember are tied to STRONG FEELINGS I was having at the time.  

So, spreading the feelings of KINDNESS, ACCEPTANCE, LOVE, JOY, PEACE in our classrooms will almost guarantee happy memories for our kids!

Just the opposite is also true.  Spreading feelings of FRUSTRATION,  ANNOYANCE, DOUBT, IMPATIENCE, ANGER, STUPIDITY can all have lasting lifetime negative impacts on our students.

I'm going to be totally honest here. 

And, if you've read this far just pat yourself on the back for listening to me ramble....I'm impressed!!!

Most people got into teaching because of that ONE teacher who made such a difference in that person's life.

The same is true for me....

The teacher who motivated me to be a teacher was actually very cruel.

      He broke me down.

               He teased me about my name and my looks.  Everyone saw.

                      He mocked me for my questions.  Everyone heard.
                              He made me feel so small.
                                     He made me feel so dumb.

                                             He stole my confidence.

                                                    He made me cry.

                                                          I believed everything he made me feel.

And I was impacted by him heavily for four years after that.  I didn't even try to apply for college.  Who would accept me?  I was so dumb.  His jokes at my expense stayed with me until one day I realized I wasn't all those things he made me feel.

I was more.

And that's when I decided to become a teacher.  I wanted to be sure there was one less cruel teacher in the world impacting kids like I was impacted.

So I enrolled in community college.  I took high school math classes just to make it to the college level.  

And five years later I graduated with a 3.78 cumulative GPA and a bachelor's degree in education.

I went on to receive a master's in reading education, graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Then I trained in Boston for two years with Irene Fountas and her colleagues as a Literacy Collaborative Coordinator, training teachers in the best practices in literacy instruction.

I don't say these things to brag.  I say them to remind us all of the POWERFUL impact our actions and words have on EVERY student we teach EVERY day!  I wasted four years believing the way this teacher made me feel was WHO I was.

Please be the teacher that's remembered for making a POSITIVE difference EVERY day by ALWAYS being KIND to EVERY student!  


Don't be that teacher that breaks them down!

Thanks everyone for reading my post.  I've never shared anything this personal before.  It kinda feels great! :)  

I hope you can use some of the resources in this post.

AND PLEASE SHARE your ideas too!!!  I know there are so many more ways to spread kindness in schools!!

LEAVE COMMENTS so we can all learn from you too!!!

Love you all!!!!  


  1. I really believe in focusing on kindness in the classroom and really made a conscious effort this past year to do kindness activities in my classroom. I really like your ideas and will use them. In an effort to promote kindness in my class this year, I had students draw a name in the morning and that would be their secret person for the day. They needed to do something nice for them and at the end of the day they filled out slips saying who they were and what they did for their secret person. These slips went on their desks so they would get them first thing the next day.

    1. That is an AWESOME idea!!! Thank you so much for sharing! I love that you are making kindness at the heart of your classroom! :)

  2. What a beautiful post and fantastic idea! I cannot wait to implement this in my classroom this year! Fantastic job!

    1. Thank you so much! I'm so glad to hear that it's something you can use with your class. Have a fantastic year!!!

  3. Jen, thanks so much for sharing from your heart. This is so powerful! I love the idea of starting the school year with an intentional focus on kindness. Off I go to pin and post this, and I'm definitely sharing with my colleagues when we go back to school in September. (The quote in my TpT store says, "Kindness is contagious. Help start an epidemic in your corner of the world.")

    1. I LOVE that quote!! It gets me so excited to hear that you are just as passionate about intentionally choosing to be kind. I hope you have an amazing year!!

  4. Replies
    1. You are so welcome! I really enjoyed writing this one!!

  5. First, thank you for a great post! I'm going to share and pin the heck out of this one! =)

    Second, I appreciate your personal story. I can't say I had one teacher specifically tear me down, but I don't have good memories of school. Like you, I went into teaching to make school a fun, memorable place for students to learn. I'd like to think I've done that.

    Third, thank you for sharing your awesomeness all over social media during this year's TpT conference. I was unable to attend, but all of your #paulswag had me cracking up throughout the day!

    ~Heather aka HoJo~

    1. Awe thank you so much Heather for this message. I am so glad that you chose to be a teacher. I LOVE how you make learning FUN!!! And for the #paulswag, it's going to be off the charts in 2016! Haha I hope to meet you next year!! Have a wonderful year teaching!!!

  6. Thanks for your honesty and for sharing your story. I too was impacted by less than positive teachers, but thankfully, had a fantastic one in Junior High who saw past the quiet mousey exterior and encouraged me. He acknowledged my voracious reading and took the time to help me find books in the library to challenge me. And when I ran out of books at the school, loaned me his books from home. He was also the the first one to plant the idea in my head that, I too, could be a teacher. And from there on, I had a singular goal. Even though I was not a top student, he made me believe I could succeed. Neither of my parents had graduated from High School. They were both still highly successful people, and always made sure we worked our hardest at whatever we did, whether it was cleaning a barn or writing a paper, but we knew that academic achievement wasn't the be-all or end-all of our lives. And, in the end, I was the first person from my family (as far back as you can trace on either side) to graduate from university.
    I always do my best to keep my class positive and focus on what the kids can do, rather than what they can't. And I have had parents, over the years, who have come to me expressing what a great year their child had in my room, even when their child was not the most successful student or the best behaved. Those are the moments I really treasure.

    1. Hi Teresa!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story! I am sure everyone in your family is so proud of you for all your hard work and accomplishments!! :) It's always so amazing to me the ripple effect of one teacher. It's impossible to even imagine how many lives he and you have reached!!!! Keep up the amazing work!!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful ideas with us. And for sharing your story. It is so important to let our sweet kids know how important they are. We really could be the only one telling them that. Thanks so much for the encouragement! I do so greatly appreciate it!!