Teachers today do more than impart facts and prepare students for tests. Now more than ever, teachers have the opportunity to shape the lives of children and adolescents in ways that will affect the rest of their lives. By incorporating positive psychology into their teaching approaches, teachers can change their students’ mindsets for the better. For those looking to enhance their understanding of how teachers can guide student development, an online master’s degree in education often involves coursework on the psychology of education, including how to integrate lessons on kindness into the classroom.
Why Is Teaching Kindness Even Necessary?
Some might argue that the classroom is solely for learning subject matter and exam material. They would argue that teaching positive psychology for the prevention of bullying should be left to parents; teachers have enough work to do without also teaching kindness. While, ideally, teachers should not bear this additional burden, the fact is that adolescents and children today are bullying, harassing and victimizing one another at increasing rates.
Implementing in-school kindness instruction is one important and effective way to combat the rise in bullying. Many students who bully may have been victimized in the past and do not know how to think and act compassionately. Teachers can break this cycle by simply teaching kindness.
Focus on the Positive
One important aspect of positive psychology is that it shifts the focus way from negative thoughts and actions to positive ones. Rather than setting up an “anti-bullying” program, which focuses on the negative behaviors associated with bullying, administrators and teachers can promote kindness as a preventative measure. If students learn the benefits of being kind and compassionate toward one another, they are more likely to think and act positively. The obvious result of an increase in kindness and compassion is a corresponding decrease in bullying, targeting and school violence.
As students become more aware of the benefits of being kind, the general atmosphere of the school as a whole will improve. When students can come to school each day and study in a positive environment, their entire learning experience can improve. Positive psychology improves student concentration, reduces anxiety and depression, improves self-esteem, and helps children and adolescents feel a deeper sense of belonging.
Ways to Teach Kindness in the Classroom
Increasingly, school districts are including in-school programs to teach kindness. However, teachers do not have restrict themselves to only teaching stand-alone lessons on kindness; they can also incorporate kindness into their regular lessons. Reading teachers can use texts that promote positive psychology, and writing assignments can prompt students to think about kindness. Art teachers can integrate the idea of kindness into visual arts and design assignments. Perhaps the best way for any teacher of any subject at any level to teach kindness is to model positive behaviors.
Schools can change students’ lives dramatically by teaching kindness. Doing so will benefit the entire school; students will become more focused on the feelings of others and less on any negative thoughts. Positivity and compassion can change a student’s outlook, improve their mindset in the classroom and influence their peers for years to come.
Learn more about the LSUS online M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction program.
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