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.