Thursday, August 16, 2018

Small things in a great way.

I am posting this story for someone who would love to remain anonymous, but who would like to share their experience.  She writes:

I have been thinking a lot about kindness recently ever since I wrote down my goals for a successful life.  One of my goals is, “to do one thing that makes a difference”.  My thoughts at the time were to do one big thing that would make a difference to the lives of many.  Then I heard a quote from Martin Luther King who said, “If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way.” 

Kindness is an inherited value which can be passed from generation to generation.  Both my parents were kind and generous to everyone they met - generous with their time, they listened and they helped many different people on different occasions when they could.  They didn’t wait to do one big amazing thing but they did small things in a great way.

Researcher Professor Bardi commented, "This research really shows that where parents nurture positive, supportive and altruistic values their children will also take these characteristics to heart…..This research brings a positive message to the world: prosocial parents breed a prosocial next generation.”

I would like to tell you the story of one example of a small thing that made my day.  I took my two grandchildren grocery shopping recently and once the check out operator had finished checking my groceries I asked her for a Pak’n Save voucher.  Having paid for my groceries and voucher I gave the voucher back to the checkout operator and asked her to give this to the next person that came through the checkout.  This is something that has just become part of my grocery shop and the best thing about it is the delight that is gives the checkout operator as they pass on the good news to the next customer - someone has already paid for part of your groceries. 

My grandsons watched on a little baffled.  One asked if I was just giving that away and when I replied yes he said, “that is very kind Nanna”.  The other who loves maths and numbers was very quick to say, “Nanna I want to go shopping after you next time.”  Wise young man.  

What I have found is that when you start to think about kindness you see it everywhere.  It warms my heart to hear my children talk about the kind acts they have done - not in a boastful way but just as a matter of 'this is what happened in my day'.  My eldest child has given freely of his time to those in need, given support to struggling beginning divers knowing that if they find their passion in diving it may change their world or other times when he has gone out of his way to share resources, time or knowledge.  I smiled, probably inside and out, when he likened himself to my parents and the way they were kind to everyone.  

If you want to make a difference in the world it might not be the big grand gestures but the small kindnesses carried out in a great way that someone is watching and learning from.  Someone who will one day attribute their being kind to what was modelled by past generations.

Kindness is a great motivator

Kindness is a great motivator is the title of a Learning Story I wrote for Diamond.  What we focus on grows therefore why not write about what you value - fairness, kindness, empathy, aroha and much much more?  Learning Stories have the capacity to build children's identity of themselves as social beings as well as learners.

Sue Gerhardt writer of the book Why Love Maters wrote, “the kind of brain that each baby develops is the brain that comes out of his or her experiences with other people.”   Children are learning all the time from the modelling of kindness, fairness and what love looks through their interaction with all the people in their lives.  They are using this information to form their own theories about love and how to live in community with other people.

The message for teachers - focus on what you value, write about it, acknowledge it and most of all model it.

This is the Learning Story I wrote for Diamond, a child I had never meet before.  Diamond had a wonderful sense of what it means to make sure someone feels welcomed into her early childhood centre.

Diamond you were so kind to me today when I visited the centre.  You noticed me wandering through the room, came up to me, asked who I was looking for, took my hand and said follow me.   What wonderful manaakitanga Diamond, as you made sure I felt welcomed and not left to wander on my own.  Thank you for awhi/support.
A little later in the morning I was sitting with my notebook, which Levi had just written in, you noticed this and asked if you could also draw in my book.    You drew me a butterfly and then asked if I had a mum.  To which I replied “yes”.  You said, “Tell her I drew this for you.”   Next you wanted to know my name so you could write it in the book.  It takes maximum focus, indestructible desire and buckets of coordination to practise when you are writing Diamond.  Here you are writing out my name which you can see in the top left hand corner of the butterfly picture.  What does this tell me about you?   You  are obviously determined to complete tasks that have value to you Diamond.

What learning I think is happening here.
Diamond, as I reflected on this moment I thought about what inspires children to write.  Maybe it starts with a name, whether it is your own name or a name of a friend or whānau member.   Learners learn new skills and knowledge through having the indestructible desire to do so, a disposition of determination to complete something.  Before that starts though there has to be a reason to want to try, a reason to want to do something new.  In the case of you writing my name, you tried really hard to get the letter shapes right on the page because it was part of making me feel included, it was part of your kindness.  So what inspired your learning today Diamond?  I think it was your kindness toward a visitor.    
Thank you Diamond.

Words matter we all know this,  the little video below demonstrates this, while also demonstrating that the kindness of a stranger can make a difference.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Bring Kindness Back

 Bring Kindness Back
Click to read the article and view the video online.

Shortly before she was sworn in as the new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern spoke to Checkpoint with John Campbell as she was on her way to Government House in a Crown car.

She said she wants the new government to "feel different", to be empathetic and kind.
There was a significant part of her that was focused on the work that needed to be done, she said.

Jacinda Ardern with her nieces outside Parliament today. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King
"Once you're there, get on with it."
She said she wanted the government to feel different.
'I know I need to transcend politics' - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
"I want it to feel like we are a government that's truly focused on everybody. Perhaps I'm more acutely aware of that sense having now led a set of negotiations in our government that brings together a range of parties.
"I know I need to transcend politics in the way that I govern for this next term of Parliament but I also want this government to feel different, I want people to feel that it's open, that it's listening and that it's going to bring kindness back.
"I know that will sound curious but to me if people see they have an empathetic government I think they'll truly understand that when we're making hard calls that we're doing it with the right focus in mind."
She said there were tough times during the coalition negotiations.
"It's not about just preserving people's political careers. It's not about power. It's about being in a position to make a difference to people who need it most.
"This will be a government that works with others.
"There is a lot to do."
Asked if there was a central tenet to her approach to the new role, she said it was empathy.
"Empathy is the one thing that I think that's your foundation, that's your grounding, and we'll keep ourselves in constant check." 
"I hope that elements of life can stay the same. But I equally expect it's a busy job. There will be a lot that changes.
"I think [people] probably just want us to make good on all of the things we said we'd try our best to achieve."
She said the job was about following through, acknowledging failure, and being up front.
Ms Ardern also said her sister, who lives in London, just had a baby.
She had a 'large' baby boy - 9.4 pounds - today, she said.
"It does mean that my mum is over in London with her, but my father is here, which is lovely.
"There's a significant part of me, whilst I feel a huge enormous sense of privilege, you walk down the halls of Parliament and you see the portraits of those who have been lucky enough to hold the role before and there are not many faces."
She is the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Why Kindness Matters

A couple of years ago my colleague and friend Beverly Kay shared this with a group of teachers online.  It is such a thought provoking message that it should be shared on our kindness blog:

"Recently I had a short stint in hospital. It always blows me away how people can dedicate their lives to helping people like me reach their full health potential. In fact a fair whack of cash, and precious hours of doctors, nurses, and a raft of other medical personal, has been dedicated to ensuring I get to leave hospital fit and healthy to live the life I want to live. Thats very humbling.
So first and foremost I want to thank those who have so kindly cared for me.

The health system has many similar characteristics to the education system. It if full of people there to help people.  Helping people reach their full potential. To ensure this is done as efficiently, effectively and as successfully as possible - there are systems, procedures, policies in place for the smooth running of a hospital.

And there-in lies the rub.

As part of my recovery process I was encouraged to walk around and around the ward many times a day. Similar to many ECEs and Schools, the ward displayed its philosophy of care on the walls. Alongside this was a list of roles that medical team on that ward saw as important parts of their job. There was also what appeared to be a list of reminders about how these roles should be carried out. There was an anagram - I think it was PEEK - and it started with Pop-In “Have you popped in to see your patient and asked them how they are doing.”

I had many nurses “Pop-In” and ask “How are you doing today Beverly?” - which was nice. I could see they were fulfilling their ‘role’ and some connection was made. And then there were other nurses. They breezed in with wonderful smiles on their faces, chatted about the photos of my family I had on the wall, drew my attention to the sun shining through the window, and paused at my bedside with the look that said “I’m here for you”. And I knew that these nurses cared. 

They truly cared. The doctors and nurses who walked into my room with a genuine smile, looked me in the eye, greeted me and introduced themselves; who shared with me the reason for their visit, commented on my photos, shared a laugh, listened to my stories; who had kindness in their eyes - they were there because they truly wanted to help me and cared.

People approaching us with kindness makes a huge difference to how we feel about ourselves, how we feel about them, how we feel about the next few moments of time.

Kindness and truly caring matter. They matter in health. They matter everywhere.

It might pay to consider our own situation - is Kindness something written or described on the wall as part of our role or philosophy, or is it something that lives within us and manifests itself through every interaction we have with children and families?

Wendy Lee lives and breathes kindness, so I am confident to quote her on this subject because it is not just words - there is a huge amount of thoughtfulness and caring behind these words. “For me kindness is really at the heart of all we do. ‘Kindness is at the heart of the matter’. Manaakitanga is an important value for all of us (respecting others – their differences, showing hospitality, kindness, friendship, nurturing and care for everyone). Piero Ferrucci argues that it is this trait that will not only lead to our own individual happiness and the happiness of those around us, but has the potential to strengthen powerfully the relationships that surround us. 

I thought I'd add John Sweeny's Ted talk to this. His website states "Unless you're too busy breathing, you're never too busy to be kind."

What does kindness feel like in you?"

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dr Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere CBE

One of the dimensions that Dr Pere talks about to assess wellbeing relates to emotions and senses. She talks about Babies, and children who have not been programmed by the State or Religion, can “read” us, and let us know exactly what they think and feel about us, they have "intuitive intelligence"

Are we the kind teacher who has time to listen and to 'be' with children, is 'aroha' embedded in our actions with whanau, tamariki and colleagues?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

It is important to give thanks for each day, there is so much research now into the power of gratitude. For example there is scientific evidence that by practising gratitude we can create some important biological changes, such as a decrease in cortisol and stress levels. Gratitude will boost our energy on so many levels and create a more positive and enthusiastic outlook on life.

Amit Amin has a blog and has written about ‘The 31 Benefits of Gratitude You Didn’t Know About: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life’…

He has developed this graphic listing all the benefits of gratitude that he compiled from the results of more than 40 research studies on gratitude. Check out his full blog