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How to Participate in The Great Kindness Challenge

(And to Make the Most of the Event!)

The Great Kindness Challenge is a free PreK-12 program intended to spread kindness in schools all over the world. From January 28 — February 1, 2019, students, teachers, and community members will come together to make the world a kinder place. Schools that sign up for the challenge will receive a toolkit full of resources to make the week memorable — most important of which is a kindness checklist, which students work from to commit acts of kindness throughout the designated week.

We recently hosted a webinar with the founder of The Great Kindness Challenge, Jill McManigal, to help guide you through the process to sign your school up for the program, and to give you ideas around how to make the most of the event. You can start small, by simply distributing the checklist and working through the acts of kindness, or you can go big, by involving the community, extending the program across your district, and even collaborating with local media.

You can sign up for The Great Kindness Challenge here:

You can watch the full webinar below, featuring the founder of the program as well as educators who have some amazing ideas for expanding the celebration. Read on for a quick overview of a few of the most exciting strategies presented in the webinar for taking your school’s participation to the next level.

Engage Your Community

Laurel Ferreira, an educator at Jefferson Elementary in California who has participated in The Great Kindness Challenge many times, opens the event at her school with an assembly that includes local community members. Many districts choose to involve local police and fire departments to help model kindness for students, or loop in businesses. Lia Caravella, an educator from Memorial Middle School in Cedar Grove, New Jersey coordinates with local businesses and restaurants to have them offer incentives for students to commit acts of kindness. In the program toolkit, which you get when you sign up, you’ll find resources for hosting an assembly.

Strive for Media Exposure

The experts from The Great Kindness Challenge strongly encourage schools who participate in the event — particularly those who go to the next level with community engagement and school spirit — to involve local media outlets. It’s a perfect opportunity to tell your school story, give students a chance to practice public speaking and sharing, and the media outlets are happy to have a positive story to share. When you sign up for the program, you’ll find support on how to work with media outlets in the toolkit!

Extend the Program to Middle and High School

All too often, we associate concepts like kindness, empathy, and even social and emotional learning with only younger students. Perhaps this is because it can be challenging to find activities that engage older students in these concepts in a meaningful way. The Great Kindness Challenge is a wonderful opportunity to ensure that middle and high school students are included. Many of the schools who participate in the challenge leverage the checklist to ensure that older students are modeling kind behavior for younger students by providing space for interaction and community-building across school district buildings.

Read Kindness-Themed Books

In the way that experts suggest social and emotional instruction be integrated into core academic learning, activities for The Great Kindness Challenge can also be meaningfully integrated into class time. Lia Caravella, featured in this webinar, ensures that her school district reads a popular young adult book about kindness in alignment to The Great Kindness Challenge. Literature can be an excellent starting point for meaningful discussions about kindness as a practice in daily life. Encourage math, science, P.E., music, and other teachers to also think of creative ways to integrate conversations about kindness and empathy into their lessons for the designated week.

Connect Students and Staff

Both educators featured in this webinar take particular care to ensure that the emphasis on kindness is not only directed towards students, but towards faculty as well. The Great Kindness Challenge offers an opportunity to promote healthy relationships among students, between students and teachers, or among teachers. In the webinar, you’ll hear about a few strategies you can use to engage faculty, including resources you can arm each participating educator with that you can find in the toolkit.

Take Time for Philanthropy

The founder of The Great Kindness Challenge also organizes an annual philanthropic activity, where the group seeks to improve the learning conditions of a group of students in need — sometimes in the United States, and sometimes across the globe. They encourage educators whose schools participate in The Great Kindness Challenge to also integrate the annual philanthropic project into their week-long celebration, to help their students understand the importance of generosity and solidarity. For details on this year’s philanthropic project, check the “Kind Coins” tab of the program website, and watch the webinar for ideas on how to get your students involved.

Make Kindness Inclusive

As many schools think about inclusivity on a large scale — how to make all learning experiences available and meaningful for all students, regardless of background — it’s also important to think about how you might make your participation in The Great Kindness Challenge inclusive for all students. The checklist is available in multiple languages, and in the webinar you’ll see how Laurel Ferreira ensures that her schools’ kindness activities are fully accessible to English Learners.

For more on kindness, empathy, and social and emotional learning, see:



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