We recently acknowledged and honoured teachers on World Teachers’ Day.
During the day on October the 5th, I listened to children across the country being asked why they felt their teacher was special and needed to be thanked. The overwhelming response to this question was: ‘My teacher is kind.’
The dictionary describes kindness as ‘the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate’.
I believe that kindness is this…. and so much more. Children have different perceptions of kindness, depending on their age and circumstances. What doesn’t change is the how an act of kindness makes them feel. Nothing can take away the impact that a little bit of kindness, shown to a child in distress, will have. No matter where we are or what we are doing, there’s always an opportunity for kindness.
As educators, we have a blank canvas each day to show kindness at work – to the children that we teach, their parents or guardians, our fellow educators, and the support staff at our school. It’s a proven fact that a culture of kindness in the workplace can lead to greater success in an organisation – and it’s so easy to do. It’s a win/win situation because showing kindness to others makes us feel good too.
Kindness in the classroom and on the sports field gives children confidence to take part in group activities no matter what their skill level is. A kind sports coach will encourage an uncoordinated child to continue trying at his chosen sport without having to be the best. A kind teacher will say the right things to a child who is struggling academically that will motivate him/her to persevere. Kindness has no end – and it is within our reach as educators to model this value to our children every day.
Being kind doesn’t mean that all other values need to fall away. Kindness can run concurrently in your classroom along with being firm and maintaining good classroom management. This is achievable without compromising your role as the person in charge. As adults and as educators, we should be able to sense when a little bit of kindness is needed.
This term some of us will need to have a few difficult conversations with parents/guardians regarding their child’s lack of academic progress during the year. These conversations call for bucket loads of kindness! Parents are hurting for their children and are feeling enormously guilty for a variety of reasons. Try to keep your personal opinion and feelings about the situation at bay.
Show them some kindness for the sake of their child even if the parents are hostile and defensive to start with. You’ll be surprised at how a potentially volatile meeting can have a productive and positive outcome with a little bit of kindness thrown in the mix.
As I said before, kindness means different things to different people. It’s showing understanding and empathy in difficult situations. It’s not always easy to be kind but showing kindness when times are hard for you too, is even more meaningful for the receiver.
Being kind to ourselves always seems to come at the bottom of the list. Self-compassion is the term used for being kind to yourself. Without it, you can’t be kind to others.
Allow yourself some ‘be kind to me’ time too. It will make the world of difference to your well- being and your mental health.
Teachers are special people whose influence will stay with their learners for life. Thank you to those of you who have already shown your learners what kindness means.
Wouldn’t you also like to be remembered as the teacher who was kind? It’s easy – just try it.
Take care and have a great term.
Jenny (on behalf of)
The Teachers’ Support Team, Principals Academy Trust
16 October 2023
Watch our video version of this letter on YouTube: https://youtu.be/DbbqI8rfTs8