This article is written by motivational speaker, Mike Marsteller.
The first week of October means it’s the Week of Respect for schools in New Jersey. If you are at Sparta, Anthony Wayne, Little Falls, Stewartsville, Valley View, Tighe, or Belhaven I hope I get to see and meet you as I will be doing assemblies at each school throughout the week!
I am sure your school has many activities going on and I encourage you to look at this week as an opportunity to connect with your students emotionally. It is only going to help build a stronger connection with your students one to one and as a classroom group.
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3 topic/activity ideas
Here are a few ideas that you can do throughout the week.
1. Plant a respect tree
This one is pretty simple, but will have a lot of impact if your students are willing to participate and brainstorm.
Write the word “respect” on the board near the bottom or in the middle and draw a circle around it. As a class, start to brain storm what respect means to you and create branches off of that main circle.
Some examples can be self-respect, compassion for others, holding the door for someone, responsibility, empathy, etc.
Here is the important part. For each “branch” your class comes up with, have a short discussion about it. For example, self-respect you can talk about values, or being positive through a difficult situation.
This activity really gets your students thinking about how they want to treat themselves and others. Plus, that connection they have with you will definitely become stronger.
Make sure to take a picture of it when you are finished so you can reference it throughout the year and keep the conversations going.
2. Kindness coins
Kindness coins have been around for a few years and I’m sure you have heard of them. The concept behind it is you give your kindness coin to someone you see that has done a random act of kindness, or someone you see do something special for someone else. That person can then go to the website and write a note about who gave them the coin and why. So, the coin has its own little story.
You can get a few kindness coins and set some ground rules. Perhaps whomever has the coin(s) has to give it to someone in your class only. Or maybe it has to go to someone within the school. Whatever your ground rules are, this is a great way to not only encourage students to be kind and respectful, but it also allows them to recognize others doing it.
To get coins, go to: http://kindnesscoins.com/
I wholeheartedly 100% believe that everything and anything having to do with respect comes down to empathy. And just like respect, empathy can have many different meanings: walking in someone else’s shoes, getting to know someone before you judge them, using your own experiences to help others, etc.
At some point this week, talk about empathy and see where that conversation goes. Encourage students to see the good in others and learn their story before they judge them.
There are times though when we have people in our lives that may be going through something that we can’t relate to. We can’t and maybe never will understand what they are going through. I have a whole section in my assembly that talks about using empathy in these situations because when we can’t relate to someone we get scared or don’t know how to be a good friend to them.
Talk about these situations. Let your students know it is okay if you don’t quite know how to be there for someone or understand them. But never let that effect the type of friend you can be to them. Instead, have a conversation with that person to let them know you want to be there for them, but you’re not sure how to because you’ve never gone through what they are going through. Then ask that friend what you can do to be there for them and be the friend you really want to be.