I recently saw a film adaptation of a popular fairytale. I am sure you can guess which one by the photo below. If you need a brush up or the kid version is confusing you – think ugly stepsisters and glass slippers, and a mean ol’ cat who chases poor unsuspecting mice.
While I have heard this story so many times, it has never had a strong impact on me until now.
Throughout this adaptation, a phrase is said over and over. “Have courage and be kind.” Not big words. Not a long phrase. Just 5 words actually.
However, words have great power.
What if we all lived this way? What if we all aimed to have more courage, embrace change, be risk-takers, be brave, try new things? What if we were all kind – not just in our words, but our actions?
To me, that sounds like a beautiful thing.
Of course, I don’t go long without thinking of how things relate to teaching and my classroom. I immediately thought about how we learn Kindergarten “rules” or make a class promise at the beginning of the year. That is valuable time and those are important things as they bond us together and set the tone for the year.
However, could I simplify it even more? Could I help them to relate their Kindergarten behaviors to everyday life and not just “school behavior?”
Is it possible that at the end of the day what I am really hoping for my students is that, above all, they will “Have courage and be kind?”
Recently I told my class what a “motto” was and we talked about some examples we might know. I talked with them about how as a class, we could also decide to have a motto or perhaps a phrase that we use and promise to abide by.
Do you get where I am going here? I introduced them to “Have courage and be kind.” We related courage to some of our learner attributes, like being risk takers. We related kindness to the learner attribute of being compassionate. We began to see how this statement, or motto, if you will, relates to many other positive traits or attributes that we strive for.
Not to be dramatic, but…. life changing.
We said it and talked about it quite a bit together at the beginning. Then I started noticing it taking root in their own behaviors and interactions.
Examples and Responses (Which did not all come from me! At the beginning I may ask/prompt, “Well, what did we decide we were going to try to do as a class?”)
“This is too hard.” – “We have courage and will try it!”
“He hurt my feelings.” – “Our class is kind – how can he make this right?”
“I can’t do it.” – “We are risk takers!”
“I am mad at you.” – “Our class is kind – how can we solve this?”
I could go on and on….. “Kind” goes much beyond just “nice.” I really feel like my students are starting to realize this and all that kindess truly encompasses. It means compassion, listening, showing empathy, sharing, caring, and so much more.
I also really feel that they are becoming risk-takers (in the best way possible as learners), goal-setters, team players, and compassionate friends.
Obviously, a quote or phrase doesn’t create those things magically or by itself. If there were truly a magic wand or fairy Godmother that could work classroom wonders I am sure we would all try to outbid one another, but we know that just isn’t going to happen. Plus, part of the “magic” is our growth along the way!
So they aren’t a magic potion, but have these 5 words made a difference? Have they encouraged us to think twice? To reflect? To perhaps make better decisions?
You bet they have.
In fact, I think they have changed me most.
To all my teacher friends – Have Courage and Be Kind in all you do.