What makes a teacher a great teacher?
12 out of 22 3rd graders said that kindness is that one trait that makes a teacher great, when I asked them this quintessential question.
While other responses were also not too far off from kindness:
· Not be angry when learners are lazy in finishing the given task
· Reward learners when they behave well so that they get motivated
· Never shouts
· Be helpful, whenever learners ask
· Explains the concept thoroughly
· Be unbiased by giving equal chances to all
· Be funny so that studies will be fun not stressful
· Care for their learners
· Be a good listener
· Have good sense of humor
As you can see, kindness is the underlying denominator for all these responses.
What does it mean to be kind?
Kindness is something which one can feel. It can be taught only by showing it or making others feel it. Kindness provides a healthy dose of the warm and fuzzies to flourish as health, happy, well-rounded individuals.
Teachers can be intelligent, effective, efficient, inclusive, and strategic. Still, unless they are kind, the learners suffer not only emotionally, but also academically.
How can teachers teach Kindness?
Confucius says that “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand”
Exhibit it: Exhibit kindness in your words, actions, and behavior.
Actions speak louder than words. Our learners keep observing us every second of the day and they reflect and mirror what they see us do. The best model for kindness in the classroom is us.
I can tell my learners to be thankful, but it’s way more powerful for them to see me. Kindness is in the small acts each day for example,
- Acknowledge each learner with a greeting and a smile when you enter the classroom
- Say thank you to support staff for serving food
- Listen to your learner stories patiently
- Show patience, even when learners are unable to understand the concepts
- Say ‘thank you’ when any learner helps you in distributing the worksheets, or collecting the notebooks
Uphold it: Re-affirm kindness or lack of it on an ongoing basis.
Throughout our school day, there are so many teachable moments sprinkled in. We should make sure to point kindness out when we see it and praise learners for when they show kindness towards others and treat others with respect. This way, they will get the affirmation that what they are doing is more than good and they keep doing the same. Being a kind teacher helps learners feel welcomed, cared for, and loved.
Patty O’Grady, an expert in neuroscience, emotional learning, and positive psychology, specializes in education. She reports that “kindness changes the brain by the experience of kindness. Kindness cannot be learnt by only thinking about it or talking about it. It can be best learned by feeling it so that they can reproduce it.
It is like riding a cycle. You need to ride it to learn it. You need to experience kindness to exhibit it.
Excerpts of responses from my learners
I believe kindness fosters a supreme learning environment. If we as an educator are kind, learners around us will be willing to take risks and let their guard down. Our learners will be more open to learning or sharing what they know and are likely to enrich or accelerate the entire learning process.
I take a pledge that I will make my learner not only RICER (Reflective, Innovative , Confident, Engaged and Responsible) but KRICER ( Kind, Reflective, Innovative , Confident, Engaged and Responsible).