Teaching kindness in the classroom

Teaching kindness in the classroom

Q&A with do-gooder-er Meagan Duetta

Grade 2 teacher Meagan Duetta hoped to focus her energetic class of seven- and eight-year-olds with her first xocial campaign. “It’s not like I had some golden perfect classroom to introduce this to,” she says. “There were some behaviour challenges and lots of classroom distractions. It was getting close to the end of the year and, honestly, they had started to get a little crazy.”

The results spoke for themselves—and caught the attention of other teachers and the vice-principal. “I noticed the impact on the kids after the first day,” Meagan says. “I’m going to start a campaign with my new class on the first day back in September.”

 


From the Kind Nuggets Challenge

Classroom-Meagan-Why-what


 

 

XOCIAL:
How did xocial fit into your classroom?
Meagan:
Whenever you add technology to anything, it automatically becomes more interesting to kids. I’d tried a paper-based version of this, using a pocket so students could write nice notes to each other, but it had dwindled off. I think xocial has more staying power. At the end of every day we’d project the leaderboard onto the screen and the kids could see who was in the lead, how many points everybody had. It was cool for them and it became their goal to get their picture on that leaderboard.
XOCIAL:
Who participated?
Meagan:
I’m 99 per cent sure that every student got onto the leaderboard at least once during the week. Some were up there a lot, some a little, but it all made a difference.
XOCIAL:
What kind of challenges did you create?
Meagan:
A couple of my challenges focused on making mistakes and learning from them, because that’s a big initiative at our school. I liked that I could gear the challenges to what was lacking in my class and what we were working on as school or board. Things like being kind to each other and giving a compliment to someone else. At first I thought my challenges should be hard. Then I thought about that line from the book Horton Hears a Who: “A person’s a person no matter how small.” Really, a kind act is a kind act no matter how small. I don’t have to help a friend finish her basement. I can tell her that I like her shirt—and maybe it’s those little words that will keep her going that day.
XOCIAL:
How were the students’ parents involved?
Meagan:
Because the students are under 13 it had to be a private, invitation-only campaign—no one other than me, the students in the classroom and others that I specifically invited could see the challenges or photos from the campaign. I sent a note to parents inviting them to contact me by email so I could include them, too. I know the kids were super excited about it and talking about it at home.
XOCIAL:
How did you introduce it to the kids?
Meagan:
I was teaching the kids about schema—what I like to call the internet of our brains, like our mental file folders. I used dogs and xocial as examples. I said to the kids, “Okay, tell me everything you know about dogs” and we filled the whole chart paper. Then I said, “Tell me about xocial.” They couldn’t even pronounce it. I explained it was about kindness, that it was an app, and I showed them the five different challenges I’d come up with. I knew I was in uncharted territory. No one had ever done it with young kids and I wasn’t even sure if they would get it. But that first day they got more than 200 XP.
XOCIAL:
Any interesting stories from the campaign?
Meagan:
It was so sweet. One kid came in after recess and said, “Mrs. Duetta, I did xocial at recess.” He had completed one of the challenges and I just love how he put it: “doing xocial.” One of our challenges was persevere with something until you make mistakes. One little boy played on the basketball court for 20 minutes and I watched him keep on trying, shot after shot. He came back in and told me, “I made a lot of mistakes and I got one basket.” I was so proud of how hard he worked. xocial helped him understand that it’s okay to fail—just learn and keep going.
XOCIAL:
What surprised you?
Meagan:
Our goal was 500 XP and my biggest fear was that they would want a reward for getting to that level. In my head I was thinking that it was bad if they said, “What do we get? A pizza party? A movie?” On the second day, I asked them why we were using xocial. One of the girls said, “Because we want to be better people.” They understood that the goal was to be kind to each other. But I still needed to let go of the idea that they had to want to do this on the inside. Whatever the reason they’re doing it—external or internal—the important part is that they’re doing it and it’s becoming a habit. In some classes the teacher might say, “If we get to 500 points we get a popcorn party,” and now I think that’s okay because they’re doing the steps to get there. It’s not why they’re doing it, it’s that they’re doing it at all. But none of the kids asked whether they got a prize if they got the most points. They were all pulling together as a class to get to that 500 XP goal. It wasn’t, “How many XP do I have?” it was “How many XP do we have?”
XOCIAL:
What was the best part of the experience?
Meagan:
Seeing the change in the class. Seeing more cooperation. Kinder kids. Seeing a classroom that ran better than when I started. It was worth it.
XOCIAL:
Any tips for other teachers interested in starting their own xocial campaign?
Meagan:
Put the challenges up around the classroom so the kids can see them all the time—especially for younger students, it’s a good reminder of what they’re supposed to be doing. Limit the number of challenges because the kids won’t be able to keep track of them. Depending on the age of the students, a campaign can be a bit of work for the teacher. I took a photo of each child as they completed a challenge and because they’re so little, they didn’t have accounts and couldn’t upload anything themselves. But to have any classroom management strategy work, you’re going to have to invest some time in it. This was definitely worth the effort.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *