Monday, August 29, 2011

Kindness gives birth to kindness gives birth to kindness gives birth to.........

Below is a story written by Lynn (St Peters Childcare). This story is a great example of how one act of kindness can lead to another act of kindness and another act of kindness and...

"Several months ago I was having a conversation with a mother, Nicole, who was lamenting that they had little food this week because she made the choice to get the dog out of the pound rather than get groceries.  Clara-Ann her daughter loves the dog.  More amazingly the dog was not really her dog but a dog adopted from a friend, but still I reiterate Clara-Ann loves the dog. How could you not resist.

So the dog, name unknown, was set free.  That evening when Nicole came to get Clara-Ann we had a meal waiting for her to take home.  “For you from the dog”, I told her.  I think that the dog and Clara-Ann appreciated the sacrifice Nicole made.

There have been many times when the teachers here at St Peters have been able to go to the freezer and take out a pre-cooked meal to give to someone at the end of the day.  Someone who may have saved the dog, had a car accident, we have had a couple of those, have other children home sick, been sick themselves the list goes on and on.  We make the most of every opportunity we get to give a meal when needed to alleviate some of the pressure of our parent’s busy lives.

The teachers’ refill our freezer with the only incentive being that we each know how much it can truly brighten someone’s day when they realise how much someone else genuinely cares about them and their family. 

In Nicole’s case, and many others, it did not take long before kindness was birthed out of kindness.  Although we have no expectation that the kindness would be returned it often is. For instance, we had put in our newsletter that Kerry was taking charge of the library for children and parents; Nicole heard of a huge book sale happening downtown and sought Kerry out with a box of children’s book for the centre to have, which were lovingly accepted and very much appreciated.

Kindness truly does give birth to kindness."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Being a Friend & What if kindness is the only rule?

Ever since we started thinking about kindness more, from reading ELP's  blog and considering what this meant in terms of our Social Competency view of our world here at Greerton, we have been writing more about this for our children and families. We realised how important 'kindness' was in the way our whole learning and teaching culture played out. As teachers we wanted to model this and it has been so fabulous to see this happening. As with research journeys we are so often surprised and we were not expecting to see the way leadership was enhanced. We think children have a real sense of what is just and fair and when they are immersed in a culture of fairness, in its many shapes and forms, they will promote this way of being to each other. The learning stories we have written show this time and again.

Here is the learning story in an easy to read format!

What if kindness is the only rule?

Ash, isn’t it just as well we don’t have locked doors! Our children know they own this place, just as much as the adults and that we trust you! Otherwise you couldn’t have got those special things for James from the sleep room! This is just one more example of how thoughtful you are and how creatively you approach problems. I wonder, as this disposition increases over time and you use it in other contexts, if this means you will be a thoughtful, engaging leader who knows his team well and  ensures they are all able to stretch their talents. I certainly saw an example of this today!

Ash, you stunned me today and I felt compelled to write this story down because, for so many reasons, these are the ones worth telling!

I was sitting on the couch cuddling James, who was very sad because he had just fallen over and hurt himself. Do you know Ash, nothing that I was doing was helping. The tears streamed down his face and sobs shook his whole body. I looked around to see where his special key teacher was because I knew I didn’t know James well enough to help in this kind of crisis and thought Jo would make him feel better, faster. And then, Ash you were there! You had sized up the whole situation, had gone into the sleep room, collected James’ dummy and loved blanket and in the twinkling of an eye you were offering these to him. He looked up, breathed a deep, deep hick-up-y sigh and accepted your gift. Immediately he felt better, his breathing slowed and he relaxed. You waited around a little bit to check all was well and then off you went about your own plans, like a humble hero fading back into a crowd. Your plans, by the way, are so very often full of grit as you put your whole effort and attention into solving the problems you set yourself, so taking time out to help a friend is a strong measure of how much you value making sure your friends feel ok.

What  more did I learn about you today Ash?

Do you know Ash, we write many learning stories here at Greerton about things the teachers feel are important. We call it finding the magic because we want these stories to build a picture for  you and your whanau, of the kind of learner you are. We want you to know, now and just as importantly into the future, that the learning goals you set yourself, the skills you practice and the dispositions that drive your desire to keep going, even when the learning is hard, began very early in your life. We think that these stories are very powerful as you revisit them and retell them as time goes on. Stories like the way you imaginatively solved a tricky problem, or pushed yourself to the edge of your skill levels through being brave, persistent, creative and imaginative. Your folder is full of these exploits and these ways of learning. Teachers love this kind of writing but just as importantly, we want to tell the heart stopping stories of kindness, thoughtfulness and care. This is what I saw today. Out of nowhere, Ash you rescued your friend and me! You stopped what you were doing because you saw a friend in need. These are the moments that matter in life and when people like you Ash, react to someone’s distress, in this way, the world is a kinder place.

It made me think of a special author called Vivien Gussin Paley who wrote a book called The Kindness of Children. She couldn’t see how people could continue to have fun when there was someone amongst them who was sad and Ash, neither could you! I’m so glad that our assessment of your learning is not limited to skills alone. Our vision here at Greerton is to tell and reflect on the stories that make a difference to learning in its fullest sense. That’s how we grow our community of learners and teachers.

Greerton Early Childhood Centre
Lorraine Sands
March 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hope opens our eyes to view the possibilities!

 We all have the potential to be leaders!

As a leader, you should be a purveyor of hope, instilling in those around you the confidence that things will work out.
This optimism, this belief that tomorrow will be better than today, is not about ignoring challenges you may be facing. It is about working with your team to identify a single focus and common goal. How do we make this setting, family or organisation succeed and what is everyone’s role in achieving this goal?
Inspire yourself and others.
-       Understand the importance of gratitude. It is the quickest way to a positive attitude.
-       Assemble a library of inspiring material. Remember it is impossible to inspire others if you’re not feeling inspired yourself. Everyone takes inspiration from different sources- find out what these sources are for you and spend a little time focusing on them each day.
-       Guard yourself and your team from negative attitudes and people.
-       Be an example. As a leader, you are the person others look to for cues on how to behave. Keep this in mind and always try for a positive attitude.
Hope opens our eyes to view the possibilities. It drives us to action. It sets a tone of vitality and inspiration for and for others.

Source: ‘Hope: Don’t Leave Home Without It’, Bruna Martinuzzi, (2010).

Monday, August 1, 2011

Have you thought about being a volunteer in your community?

In a study carried out by Thoits and Hewitt on Volunteer work and Wellbeing studies showed that mixing with other people, getting involved in activities with others offered long term benefits. One of the key findings was that ‘doing good’ did have a powerful effect of alleviating depression.

People who did voluntary work when questioned rated their levels of happiness, quality of life and self esteem as higher than average. This is a great message to encourage everyone to get outside their normal life spaces and find a way to contribute as a volunteer in their local communities.