Recently on Twitter we saw a member of our PLN, Staci Erickson, posting acts of kindness she was doing personally, and she was encouraging others to join her in her #Kindness180 Challenge. In Lead Like a PIRATE we emphasize the need that while we are all so busy in our roles and there is a never-ending “to do” list, it is critical for us to slow down once in awhile and take time to notice and appreciate the great things that people around us are doing each day. Staci’s call to action to take a few moments from time to time for acts of kindness fits right in with our #LeadLAP philosophy. We asked her to share with us, so we could share with all of you, some background on the #Kindness180 Challenge and information about how we can get involved. As this school year gets underway, we hope you are able to build some of her wonderful challenges into your day!
Here’s the Challenge from Staci:
I recently started the #Kindness180 challenge, and I hope you will join me!
What is #Kindness180?
#Kindness180 is about building relationships through acts of kindness. When we are able to build authentic relationships with our students and teachers we build trust. When that trust is in place, those we lead are more willing to take risks, embrace change, and have an overall positive outlook, even when things get tough.
One of the first steps in building those relationships with teachers and students is to simply show kindness. Showing kindness is an act of showing gratitude, giving attention, and encouraging those around us. When we show others kindness it does something wonderful for the recipient (it makes them feel good) and it also does something great for us, too because it makes us stronger and happier.
Why the 180?
Two reasons… First, there will be a total of 180 acts of kindness posted throughout the year. While I hope you join me for as many as possible, there is no requirement to do one each day, and they don’t need to be completed in any particular order. Basically, you just pick the challenges you want to do on days you want to do them and go for it!
The second reason for the 180 is that when someone has “done a 180″, it means they have changed their behavior or thoughts about someone or something. There will be kinds acts that may challenge you to do a 180 throughout the year. As an example, while it is often easy to show kindness to those we love or care about or when we see others in need, it may require a 180 in our thinking to show kindness to someone who has hurt us. Let’s be honest.. we may not always feel like showing kindness to a particular person, but it is important to remember that kindness is not a feeling, rather it is an action. If we can get past our pride and show acts of kindness, even to those who have hurt us, the healing can begin for all involved. When we hold onto anger, bitterness, and resentment towards those who have hurt us, we are unable to experience the joy and beauty this life has to offer. Instead, we begin to build up walls to protect ourselves. In turn, this affects our ability to foster genuine relationships with others.
Types of Challenges
Over the course of the year, there will be four different types of challenges that we will complete during the #Kindness180 challenge. Some of the challenges will be easy and some of them will push you out of your comfort zone, but each one will be completely worth it!
1. Random Acts of Kindness
One kind word or kind act can change a person’s entire day! A random act of kindness is doing something for someone else without the expectation of a thank you or something in return. These acts might not necessarily be random on your part. In fact, you might have planned these acts out very carefully. We call these acts “random” for the recipient. The kind gestures are unexpected and can help brighten their day. A random act of kindness might be buying someone a cup of coffee, giving out popsicles at the park, or giving someone fresh flowers. The possibilities are endless.
2. Helping others in Need
These types of challenges may take a little longer than some of the other challenges. This is often a sacrifice of time. For example, we may see someone on the side of the road who needs a tire changed. This may cause us to be late to wherever we were headed, but you are willing to give up your time to help this person in need. Another challenge may be mowing your elderly neighbor’s yard. This doesn’t cost you anything but time. Time is one of the most valuable things that people often have a hard time giving up. Myself included! However, showing people we are willing to give up our time and help them with a need is one of the greats acts of kindness we can show each others.
3. 180 Challenges
There are two types of 180 challenges. These challenges will push you out of your comfort zone and challenge you to think differently on when to show kindness to others.
Acts of Kindness to Those Who Hurt You
The first is showing acts of kindness to those who have hurt you. We have already talked about this but it is worth visiting in more depth . It is important show kindness to those who have hurt us. It allows us to let go of bitterness which only causes us to build up walls. These walls keeps us from being at true peace. Remember, many times people who are acting unkind are the ones that need to be shown kindness the most. You might not be the person who started it, but you can be the person who ends it. The road to healing has to begin with someone. One of the challenges is to do something for someone that has hurt you. This shows that person that you are different. It shows them that you are able to forgive and move forward. Even forgiving this person, as hard as it might be, can be the act of kindness you do for them. Remember kindness is not a feeling it is an action.
Acts of Kindness to Those YOU have hurt.
The second type of 180 challenge is showing and act of kindness to those YOU have hurt. There are times we are the ones causing the hurt. We may say or do something we regret and there is no taking it back. We may ask for forgiveness and sometimes that is enough but sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we have to prove through our actions we are sorry more than we do with our words. Whether it is asking for forgiveness and/or completing an act of kindness to show we are sorry the bottom line is we can’t avoid it and must face it head on.
4. Helping others in Need
Self kindness opens your heart to love yourself. It is about taking a break instead of pushing through life stresses. It is believing that we are worthy to enjoy the goodness in this life. These challenges include exercising, unplugging from technology, listen to music that inspires you, creating a gratitude list, or writing an encouraging letter to yourself 3 months from now. In order to show kindness to others we must remember we have to show kindness to ourselves.
5 Ways to Complete the #Kindness180 Challenges
The great thing about #Kindness180 is you can use the challenges in any way you choose!
You may want to complete the kindness180 challenges as a personal challenge. I am doing a kindness challenge every day for 180 days. However, you may want to do only two or three a week. The challenges aren’t about checking one off a list. They are about growing as an individual and doing acts of kindness for others.
Do the challenges as a family! When I first started the Kindness180 challenges I knew I wanted to involve my own children. They loved being able to complete the challenges with me and it was great time strengthen my relationships with them. It was also the perfect opportunity to teach them that we can do something kind for others, without the expectation of something in return. You can also send these challenges home with your students and encourage them to do the challenges as a family!
It is important to create a classroom community that is supportive, respectful, and KIND. What better way to promote these beliefs then to do a kindness challenge as a class. For my school I have created a bulletin board in the hallway that has 7 different kindness challenges that will be changed out every week. My goal is for the teachers to complete just one challenge a week as a class. The challenges can last as long as they want and they have the freedom to choose exactly how they want to complete the challenge. The teachers also have the freedom to complete a challenge with their class that is not on the board. We want the teachers and students to have the autonomy to complete these challenges in their own unique and personal way.
Choose a kindness challenge once a month, grading period, or semester that you will do campus wide. It may be that you collect bottled water for the fire department, raise money for a project in the community, or do something to beautify your campus. Whatever you choose, get all of the students, teachers, parents, and other community members involved!
#Kindness180 for Discipline
I am really excited about this one! As an assistant principal I have struggled with doling out punishment to students when they come to my office. I learned very quickly during my first year as an AP that detention, in-school suspension, and out of school suspension had little to no impact in changing the student’s behavior. My repeat offenders were usually back to their shenanigans within a few days after they were released back into the classroom. Why? Because the “punishment” didn’t mean squat to them.
What if we changed our approach? Instead of giving students a punitive punishment, like detention, have them do a kindness challenge. For example, if a student trashes the bathroom have them clean it up after school (on their own time), and then write a thank you letter to the custodians for making sure the bathrooms are cleaned everyday. The students then goes to the custodians, looks them in the eye, hands them the letter, and they verbally thank them for all of the hard work they do to keep the bathrooms clean. You are no longer handing out punishments that mean nothing. Instead you are turning the situation into a learning opportunity through an act of kindness.
I hope you will join us in completing the #Kindness180 challenge! You can visit the kindness180 blog for a list of challenges. I also post a new challenge each day on my Instagram: @principalteacher or on Twitter:@staci_erickson2 and using the hashtag #Kindness180. There are currently over 20 challenges to get you started and I am adding to the list daily!