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Encourage Kindness in Student Tips

When I was an educator, toward the begin of every school year I couldn’t endure to attempt all the classroom administration tips I’d gotten over the mid year, persuaded that now I had in my pocket the most recent strategies that would make my classroom a warm and safe place to learn.

I realized that one of the keys to a minding classroom was urging understudies to show kind, accommodating—or “prosocial”— conduct toward each other. Analysts have found that understudies who demonstrate this sort of conduct: 1) make more prominent scholarly progress, 2) have more companions, and 3) grow better associations with educators.

Some of the time my new methods succeeded; bunches of times they didn’t. In any case, as I’ve adapted more about the exploration of prosocial conduct, I’ve been charmingly amazed that it may be a great deal less demanding to empower generosity among understudies than I suspected.

For instance, in a 2010 study published in the journal Psychological Science, 18-month old infants were shown photos of household objects, like a tea-kettle. The photos each featured one of four backgrounds: blocks, two dolls facing each other, a single doll, or two dolls facing away from each other.

Turned out the background choice decisively influenced behavior: The infants who saw the dolls facing each other were three times more likely than the infants who saw the other background images to spontaneously help a person in need.

All it took was a gentle reminder of our human connectedness to prompt kids to reach out and help someone else.

When I read this study, I realized that I already had been doing a lot of things that encouraged positive connectedness in the classroom—just like most teachers. But this study and others have pointed me to a few simple, effective, research-based tips for consciously nurturing kindness among students—tips that teachers can start to implement on the very first day of school (if not before!). Here are four of my favorites:

# When setting up your classroom for the year, hang posters of people interacting with each other. As that study demonstrates, even a subtle image of two people looking at each other can create a sense of connectedness and foster kindness. Such visual cues also let students know that you value this kind of behavior.

# Greet students on the first day of school—and every day after that—as they enter the classroom. Students are more likely to behave with kindness if they feel a sense of belonging. Astudy of 158 tenth- and twelfth-grade students found that those who felt connected to their teachers and other students scored higher in empathy—a building block of prosocial behavior.

# From the first day of school to the last, use a positive, warm tone of voice. Forget the advice to not let them see you smile til Christmas. Students’ prosocial skills increase when they are part of a caring classroom. Modeling kind speech with students tends to have the happy effect of students speaking kindly to each other.

# To build community in your classroom, give your students chances to help each other.Giving students the opportunity to practice prosocial behavior is one of the most effective ways to promote it. For example, when having them work in cooperative learning groups—an instructional technique that allows small groups of students to work together on a task—inform students that part of their responsibility as members of the group is to help one another. Scientists have found that students who engage more in cooperative learning are more likely to treat each other with kindness.