For too long I would go home with a headache from responding to the negative forces that take over a classroom. I would commiserate with teacher friends, telling the same stories over and over - broken record extraordinaire!
My eureka moment came as I said these words out loud, "It's just not fair to the kids who want to learn and are doing great things!"
That's it! Kids Caught Doing Great Things!
It started slowly, as I consciously noticed and thanked one student for cleaning up the science equipment without being asked, while ignoring her lab partner who blowing bubbles through his pen casing. He stopped blowing and helped his lab partner clean up!
Another time, while I was working with a reading group, I noticed a couple students having a grand time with something in their desks. I focused on the other two students sitting in their table group who were on task, and thanked them for knowing what they were supposed to be doing. I returned my focus to the kids I was working with, but saw the other two get down to business.
I know it's hard to not get sucked back into the negative squeaky-wheel scenario of classroom management, and I didn't want to fall back into that same pattern.
But why stop there?
I made up several pads of these awards (I wish online printing was a prevalent then as it is now. It would have been much cheaper!) and handed them out to our administrators and my students' other teachers, so the kids could feel the love from everyone.
Eventually, some of my students approached me to see if they could give out awards for positive things they saw going on. It was poetry in motion!
I've since developed a full character education plan of action, with posters and student activity sheets to accompany the Kid Caught awards, designed to help students see that positive actions have positive consequences.
I decided kindness was a good place to begin, because it takes nothing to be kind to one another, and kids are quick to recognize that. I set the stage using Aesop's fable, "The Lion and the Mouse." I would then introduce the poster and we'd discuss how it tied in to the story. (Aesop's Fables are great for this because they're usually quick reads.)
After brainstorming other ways to show kindness, I turned them loose, making their own Kindness posters, using the activity sheets. I love the sound of productive noise, and that's what this activity produced. I was amazed and happy to note how many different ways students found to show kindness!
Finally, as one who is always willing to take advantage of a writing extension, I had students write their own fables, with "kindness" as the moral of the story.
Does this mean I never slipped back into my old habits? Come on, now. I'm human, I'm not a saint. But Kid Caught Doing Great Things has taught me that positive intervention is much more effective than greasing that squeaky old wheel.
Kindness poster/activity set, complete with Kid Caught Doing Great Things awards and try it for yourself! You'll love the changes you see in your class!
Then search with the hashtags, #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths, on TpT for other free resources that will have a positive impact in your class.