A Culture Of Kindness

Bullying. There, I said it. It's a hard topic to grab hold of, and an even more difficult issue to handle and curtail. Let's face it; kids can be cruel. People can be cruel. The world can be a cruel place to live. The good news is that kindness can be taught. I saw this banner in my son's junior high cafeteria that urges students to:

photo of kindness banner

I wonder how A Culture of Kindness looks, sounds, and feels at his school. I know how it feels at mine and, for the most part, it's amazing. Does that mean that we don't ever have to deal with the issue of bullying? With teasing and put downs? With gossip and excluding people? If only . . . 

So what are some go-to strategies for creating that culture where we can move our students away from cruelty and toward kindness so that school is a place where children feel safe, not scared or scorned? Of foremost importance is getting to know one another and sharing as a class family, something we accomplish through morning meeting. As students become connected, they're ultimately invested in and committed to treating one another with respect and compassion. We also create Social Contracts, our promise to one another, and use them throughout the year to hold ourselves and each other accountable:

If bullying situations arise, our students use this simple formula: 
Talk, Walk, then Tell. 
TALK:  If you're feeling bullied, talk to the person who's being mean and ask him or her to stop. Use an I-statement that might go something like this: 
I feel scared when you chase me. I need you to stop.
WALK:  If your words don't work, walk away, preferably toward a trusted adult in case you need assistance.
TELL: If you are unable to solve the problem by yourself, report the incident to an adult.
We're also teaching our students to be upstanders, not bystanders. If they see bullying happening, students can gather together (like a swarm of bees) and befriend the victim by surrounding him or her and getting them out of that situation to a safe place. (Of course, they would go and get an adult to go with them if it were physical in nature!)
Click {here} for a bookmark template that we've adapted from my friends in a neighboring district to help the students remember. Personalize it to make it your own and print it out on card stock. Click {here} to see our Chicken Dance using that formula!

We've also stocked our library shelves with literature that tackles bullying. Some of our favorites are:

Alley Oops by Janice Levy
Band-Aid Chicken by Becky Hinton
Billy Bully by Ana Galan
Bird Child by Nan Forler
Bullies Never Win by Margery Cuyler
Bully B.E.A.N.S. by Julia Cook
Carla's Sandwich by Debbie Herman
Don't Laugh At Me by Steven Seskin
Good Bye Bully Machine by Debbie Fox with Alan Beane
Hey Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose
Jungle Bullies by Steven Kroll
Juice Box Bully by Maria Dismondy
My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig
One by Kathryn Otoshi
Say Something by Peggy Moss
Simon's Hook by Karen Gedig Burnett
Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy
The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill
Trouble Talk by Trudy Ludwig
You're Mean, Lily Jean by Frieda Wishinski

What are your best practices for 
creating a culture of kindness?


  1. Fabulous book list for my weekly class meetings! Thank you so much!

  2. Thanks for the list Barbara!



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