These third graders along with their caring teacher are changing the everyday dialogue to focus on positivity and eliminate bullying inside this Michigan classroom. Known as Team Paws, this inspirational group is getting high marks for their mission to stop bullying one day at a time.
We sat down with Mrs. Marciniak to learn more about how she is creating a “culture of kindness in the classroom,” and this is what she shared with us.
I explained to the kids that I was excited to begin our day because our Free2Luv swag had arrived. It was the perfect opportunity for us to recite the kindness pledge and make a promise to each other and ourselves to be good friends, use our words for good, to take a stand against bullying, and to not be a bystander if bullying was happening.
Every morning we begin our day with a class meeting which involves reciting positive self-affirmations. That’s because one of our classroom rules is we only say kind words to ourselves, even the words we say inside our brains, because self-love matters.
These affirmations go like this; I am kind, I am a good friend, people like me, my teacher loves me, I love me, I matter, I am smart, I’m good at math, I do my best, and so on.
With this, I request the kids to set a daily goal before they return to their seats to start their morning work. That goal might be to sit by someone who’s alone at lunch, to give a compliment to someone, or smile at someone in the hallway.
This has made a difference in our classroom climate. I have made it my goal to create a classroom climate that focuses on the importance of social and emotional learning. My kids are learning how to manage their emotions, rather than how to cope with them.
I can do this because I know my kids. My kids are different and unique from each other, but there is something about every one of them that I love and admire.
When Free2Luv reached out to me to participate in their initiative, I knew it was perfect for Team Paws. During a discussion one of my kids made a great point; he said he was happy to take this pledge because as a member of Team Paws, he believes he and his classmates have grown in kindness this past school year. Continuing, he said we hardly ever argue, and we care about each other. Team Paws changed the way he feels about kindness in general.
The kids wanted to talk about the importance of being a good friend and standing up for victims of bullying. It was their idea to create posters to hang around the school and on our classroom door to educate the other kids in the school.
During Bullying Prevention Month, these 3rd graders rallied their entire school to start conversations, share ideas, and create solutions. They facilitated our Free2BeME art project, pledged kindness, and rocked our #ENDbullying Challenge. We have seen time after time when social-emotional learning starts early, lives are changed.
Want to join Team Paws? Take Free2Luv’s kindness pledge and be an advocate for kindness. Change begins with each of us.