In my role as principal, I often meet with students who are having issues navigating friendships or having conflict with their peers. When a serious dispute occurs, I’ll often invite the involved parties to my office so we can discuss what happened and work toward a resolution.
Since our school began participating in Teach Kindness, I’ve noticed that our students have not only become more adept at expressing their feelings in these meetings, but also at listening attentively to their peers and working together to find ways to move forward peacefully.
From our oldest 8th graders to our youngest preschoolers, our students know that when they make a mistake and hurt someone’s feelings, they can apologize and work to make the situation right. Admitting mistakes and resolving differences are crucial life skills, and I largely credit this ability in our students to our commitment to making kindness a cornerstone of our culture.
Our teachers were introduced to Teach Kindness during the pandemic. During remote learning, the program helped everyone feel connected and boosted morale. Since returning to in-person learning, Teach Kindness has helped to address the increase of anxiety, depression, and concern for social issues we’ve seen in our students.
If there’s anything we’ve all learned from living through the pandemic, it’s that your relationships with people matter more than anything. Teach Kindness has given our school the opportunity to strengthen students’ emotional well-being while we simultaneously focus on academic recovery.
My best advice to other schools and educators: Building an equitable and inclusive school is a journey, not a destination. You don’t wake up one day and suddenly everyone loves each other and respects one another’s differences. You can do this work and issues will still arise — but the skills taught in the Teach Kindness lessons help turn those issues into learning opportunities.
Making a commitment to teach kindness will strengthen your school so that when conflict does inevitably occur, everyone is prepared to address it, learn from it, and move forward to continue cultivating a school environment that serves all students and supports all educators.