Tag Archives: kindness

You Matter – With Aurasmatazz (The Sequel)

About 4 years ago, I had one of those crazy-ideas-that-sounds-good-because-you-haven’t-really-thought-through-all-of-the-obstacles.  In a nutshell, I invited the parents of my students (I teach a GT pull-out program, K-5) to send in videos of themselves telling their children how much they matter to them.  I used Aurasma Studio to create augmented reality experiences so that whenever the students scanned their parents’ pictures in their folders, they would see and hear the video of encouragement and love.

The project turned out to be much harder than I expected, but the results were good. The students were surprised and excited, and I learned a lot more about them and their families through the videos that I received.  However, by the end of the year the novelty was gone and I suspected most of the printed parent pictures needed to trigger the videos got thrown away with all of the other school supplies that were zealously surrendered in order to make room for summer fun.  In my mind, the “You Matter” Augmented Reality Project was something I was grateful I had done but would probably never choose to do again.

Flash forward to last school year.  One of my 5th grade students lost his mother in a tragic accident that stunned the whole community.  In the usual way that we try to comfort people who have suffered such a loss, I attended the rosary and told my student that I would be “there for you.”  I felt more useless than I ever have in my teaching career.

But then I remembered that this young man was in my class years ago when I did the “You Matter” project.  I went home and searched my Aurasma account for his mother’s video.  It had been one of my “obstacles” at one point because she was late with the video and then wasn’t sure how to send it to me.   But it eventually arrived.  And, years later, it was still stored in my account.

I downloaded the video to a USB drive.  A few weeks later, I called the student to my room, and explained to him what was in the envelope I was giving him.  I told him that he may not be ready to watch it now, but that it would be there for him when he needed to remember how much his mother loved him.  He took the envelope from me, smiled through his tears, and walked away.

He may never watch the video.  He may lose the USB drive or delay watching it until USB drives are obsolete (but that’s okay, because I have several different backups now!) . But instead of voicing hollow platitudes I was able to genuinely express how much he mattered to me by making a small effort to remind him how much he mattered to his mother.

A few lessons learned from this experience:

  • Never expect that people “just know” they matter.  What you say to them and how you treat them are equally important.
  • Educators (and parents) often don’t see the positive effects of our actions.  We should never regret the efforts we put into something that seemingly did not have the results we expected – as long as we know we were trying to do what is best for kids.
  • Time developing relationships is never wasted time.

As the beginning of the school year approaches for many of us, I urge you to do all that you can to let students know that they matter to you.  Not so test scores will improve or behavior issues will decrease.  But because:

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Treat People Right

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about an inspirational video about kindness that is featured in a series produced by StoryCorps and Upworthy called #WhoWeAre.  Today I want to share another video from that series about the unusual way a man handled being robbed at knife-point.  It may not be one that you should show younger students, but is definitely great for 5th grade and up.  The video is a good reminder that empathy can often be much more powerful than anger or fear.

 

Treat People Right
Treat People Right

Here are some more inspirational videos for students.

The Bus Driver

In this recent story that I heard on NPR, the host stated that a survey conducted by the group behind Sesame Street found that most parents would choose having children who are kind over having children who get good grades.  Of course, teaching children to be kind does not work if it isn’t modeled for them.  Behaving kindly ourselves can go a long way toward cultivating this in our children.  It also helps when they hear and see real-life stories of kindness.

Larry Ferlazzo recently published a post about a StoryCorps/Upworthy collaboration that is producing videos for a campaign called, #WhoWeAre.  There are a couple of videos that really reflect amazing kindness, and I wanted to share one of them today.  I’m going to call it, “The Bus Driver,” since there doesn’t appear to be an actual title for the video other than its description.

image from "The Bus Driver"
image from “The Bus Driver”

We have a tendency to laud the men and women who make headlines with their fame and/or fortune.  But it is people like the bus driver in this short story who are the true heroes of the world.

For more inspirational videos for students, click here.

Inspirational Videos for Students (Update)

This week, I’ve decided to reblog some of my more popular posts with some updates. The post below has remained in the top 5 ever since I published it.  Beneath it, I’ve decided to add a few other favorites.

#3:  The Power of Words – I also mentioned this in yesterday’s post of Inspirational Videos for Teachers.  It is good for everyone, in my opinion, to be more thoughtful about what we say.  If our communication is not having the effect we desire, we should reconsider the way we are choosing to deliver our message.

#2:  The Kindness Boomerang – I have never done a post on this one.  I read about it recently on Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day, and knew right away that I would like to add it to my blog.  Although it is somewhat simplistic, it does show how our actions can effect many more people than we will ever know.

#1:  Times of India Tree Ad – This is a powerful video that shows how important one person can be in effecting change.  It says a lot – without any words.

Here are links to my original posts on #3 and #1: The Power of Words and Times of India Tree Ad.

Also, you might want to visit my Pinterest board of Inspirational Videos for Students here.

UPDATE 6/23/15: I originally published the above list in 2011 – so I’ve definitely accumulated some more favorites over the years. Here are three more I would add:

#3: A Pep Talk from Kid President – My students love all of the Kid President videos, but this is the first one they saw in my class and they beg for it again and again. (Be sure to look at my post on Kid President’s book, too!)

#2: Mark Bezos TED Talk and King of the Island (TIE!) – These two very different videos really complement each other.  They are about being a hero in ordinary life.

AND, Drum Roll Please…

#1: Caine’s Arcade – I never get tired of this video, and I’m always making people watch it when I hear they have never heard of it!  I think, in many ways, Nirvan Mullick and Caine have inspired me to be the teacher I am today.  Once you watch this, you will definitely want to learn more about the Global Cardboard Challenge.

 

Telegenic Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break

I can’t believe this crazy week is almost over! I appreciate everyone’s patience as I recycle some posts from last year this week. I’ve added a few updates to keep things “fresh!” (According to Merriam-Webster, “telegenic” means “well-suited to the medium of television; especially :  having an appearance and manner that are markedly attractive to television viewers.”)

screen shot from The Snowman
screen shot from The Snowman

So, let’s face it.  Despite our best efforts to keep our energy up, we need a bit of down time every once in awhile.  Here is a collection of short videos to help you catch your breath.

Kid President – If you haven’t seen this young man’s collection of videos, you are in a for a real treat.  Be prepared to do a little dance and to stretch your smile muscles.  These are some that are great for this time of year:

Winter-themed Animations – I have featured some of these on the blog this season, but they bear repeating (no pun intended – okay, it’s only intended if it makes sense).

Videos about Being Kind to Others (You can find more inspirational videos for students on my Pinterest Board.)

We’re in the home stretch now!  I hope some of these links help you make the distance 🙂

Just in case you missed my other “survival” posts this week, here they are:  Creative Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break, Logical Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break, and Physical Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break.

Videos About Kindness

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As graduation time rolls around again, I am reminded of one of my favorite commencement speeches in which Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, pronounced that it is better to be kind than to be clever.  It is well worth showing your students, particularly 4th grade and up.  If you have younger students, you might want to show them this newly animated video of a portion of George Saunders’ graduation address to Syracuse University students last year in which he also argues for the value of kindness. (I referred to this speech in an earlier post about kindness, when I reflected on the book, Wonder.)

 

As I look through my Pinterest Board of Inspirational Videos for Students, I find that kindness is a common theme.  Here are some others that I’ve collected through the years:

“Nothing More” – a song about kindness by Alternate Routes

“Giving” – a video that shows how kindness may be repaid many years later

“A Life Lesson” – from volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos (yes, the brother of Jeff) about how the little things can mean a lot

“Kindness Boomerang” – how paying it forward may end up paying you back

“Painted Pie” – a beautiful, post-impressionistic animation about a legacy of kindness

Shoe Collection – one of my own students, who spent her birthday helping others

 “The Robin” – a great video for young students, this animation shows a robin who stands up to bullies and is then faced with being on the other side

If you have any other suggestions for videos about kindness, feel free to mention them in the comments below!

 

Some of my Mediocre Moments of 2013

Mediocre

This is the time of year when people post “Best of” lists: Best Apps of the Year, Best News Stories of the Year, Best Songs of the Year, Best Posts of the Year, etc…  I try to be different when I can (if it’s not terribly embarrassing), so I decided not to take that exact route.  I briefly entertained the thought of doing a “Worst of” post – until I heard a radio story about the “Worst Movies of the Year.”  Since that idea is already taken, I decided to take a look at this year’s posts to find some of the ones that fell “in-between” according to my blog stats. Sometimes I scratch my head at the posts that get a lot of views when compared to the ones that receive little attention.  But there are some that are in the middle that might bear a second look. Maybe I posted them on a holiday, or on a big news day – or when one of the “Worst Movies of the Year” opened.  Whatever the reason for the mediocre number of views, I decided to roll a few of them out for another try because, quite frankly, I am rather enthusiastic about the topics:

  • Make Your Own History” – this post features a video of a TED talk by Brad Meltzer.  You may remember that I have mentioned Meltzer recently, as he is the author of one of my favorite children’s books, Heroes for My Daughter. In this video, Meltzer gives a passionate speech about how we can all make history, and offers the three important qualities of great achievers. It is an excellent video to show students or teachers.
  • I Wonder if We Could All Be a Bit Kinder” – I was deeply moved by reading the book, Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, this summer.  In this post that I wrote in August, I summarized the book, and related it’s message of the need for kindness to two other great lectures that also highlight the importance of compassion – those of Jeff and Mark Bezos.
  • Don’t Compare Yourself to Others” –  Some people I know are becoming “connected” educators through Twitter or other social networks, and they are panicking.  They see great things that other people are doing and worry that they are not good enough.  I’ll admit that I sometimes suffer from the same feelings of inadequacy.  I wrote this post to remind those people, and myself, that our most important connections are made with our students – and we all do this in different ways.  It’s great to get new ideas, but we can’t berate ourselves for not trying every single one of them.

So, there you have it – my list of mediocre posts from 2013.  Actually, there are far more than 3.  I just chose the best of the mediocre according to my very humble opinion.

I guess that means I’m not all that different after all 😉