Transcript of Episode 51 of the 10-Minute Teacher “#51 When Kindness Goes Viral”
See full show notes: When Kindness Goes Viral
[Recording starts 0:00:00]
“Weeks ago we had something incredible happen because some kids on their own decided to start their own little movement and it began in the girl’s bathroom.”
The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.
VICKI: How can we start a movement of kindness? Principal Will Parker www.williamdparker.com from Tulsa Oklahoma is here with us. So Will, how do you start a movement of kindness?
WILL: Well, this has been a fantastic year at my high school, we have students 9-12 at high school with about 750 kids. And this year we decided we wanted to build a momentum of positive culture and kindness and it started with our students. Our student council sponsor and her students came to me at the beginning of the year they wanted to do something called a Class Cap which was chapter one of the story. They had wanted to create a way for students to track student good deeds. And so that teacher put together this fantastic Google Doc that she shared out to teachers where they could submit names of kids that were seen doing great things throughout the school.
So we started a competition between students so we could track how many of them were doing great things throughout the school. And so by the end of the first semester they were all neck and neck with the number points that they were earning and it was fun on warning announcement to not just say what’s coming up in the school but also say, “Hey, congratulations to so and so for opening the door today for someone in the hall and the teacher send your name in for a good deed. Congratulations.”
Each week out student council students go and they deliver good deed award card to the kids whose names have been submitted. And all this has been streamlined using Google Docs and Google Forms so that’s made it pretty wonderful.
But a few weeks ago we had something incredible happen because some kids on their own, not completely connect to our Class Cap decided to start their own little movement and it began in the girl’s bathroom. https://www.williamdparker.com/2017/02/01/pmp-052-starting-a-movement-of-kindness/ And one day a teacher came down to see me, her name is Julie Franklin and Ms. Franklin said, “There’s something going on in the girl’s bathroom you should probably know about.” And, of course, usually for us school principal, that means there’s trouble. And she said, “But this is something good.” She said, “I was just in the bathroom at the end of the day, I’d had a really hard 7th hour and I walked into the bathroom and there was this note that said on the bathroom mirror, you are loved. And then there’s another note right beside it that said something like don’t let negative things get you down.”
And she said there were these two or three Post-It™ notes on there, and she said what’s interesting is that today there’s more. Girls are adding nice notes to this bathroom mirror. And so she came by the next day and she said, “Okay, I’ve got to tell you what’s going on.” She said, “There’s this big sheet of butcher paper on the wall in there now and it’s getting covered with these notes of encouragement and kindness.” And so eventually she brought me a lot of pictures and eventually I got to go in there and look. But we started posting pictures of the positive notes that girls were leaving for one another on that bathroom mirror and on that wall. And a few days later we put it up on Facebook and parents were commenting on it and kids were sharing it out. And that same evening we got contacted by a local news agency and they said, “We saw you guys on Facebook, can we come do a new story on your wall of kindness?” http://ktul.com/news/local/the-writing-on-the-wall-in-skiatook-hs-girls-bathroom
And so they came out and pushed that out. I haven’t check the stats recently but we had over 65,000 contacts on that Facebook post on just our wall of kindness and, of course, that story went out through the Tulsa News Station as well. And so that media outlet shared that story.
And since then that wall has continued to grow, there’s two large sections of paper in there as well. I sent you some photos of that bathroom and a couple of students standing in front of them. (See the blog post.)
And one of the students – it took me a few days to kind of track back talking to kids who was the first one to leave the note. And I discovered, finally, it’s a junior that we have here at our high school named Taylor Anderson. So I met with her and said, “Taylor, thanks for starting a movement of kindness. We’ve been pushing positivity all year long but you’ve just done something that’s on fire.” And I said, “Where did you get this idea?” And she said, “Well, I was actually at a Bible study with some friends this week and I was trying to think of what’s something I can do to encourage other students at our school and I thought I’m just going to leave a note on mirror and see what happens.” That’s what happen.
VICKI: Wow. I love that. And I could year principals and teachers thinking, “Okay, if I stuck a sticky note somewhere, probably not nice things would be written on it.”
VICKI: So how do you do this? How do you make this happen? Do you think just the whole year of talking about kindness helped or what?
WILL: Well, let me just say six take-ways that I think anybody can be doing to kind of encourage a momentum like this. Number one, I think that if we as school leaders or educators are encouraging the great things happening in our school then it’s possible that they can take off in other directions. So here’s just some practical do-tos. Carry something with you all the time that you can take photographs with. And so for me that’s my phone or sometimes I grab a camera. But carrying a camera around the school an capturing moments when kids are doing awesome stuff and sharing that out creates a culture where people expect for great things to be shared.
Two, I think that increasing your social media shares on those things – and I know your listeners do this stuff all the time. But these good practices pay off. And so make sure those things are being placed on social media. We’ve been really updating our Facebook post, our Twitter posts from the school so that our parents and community can great things that are happening.
We actually boosted that post. I had never done that before with a Facebook post from school and that spread the news even farther. And so I think spreading the news outside the school and inside the school encourages other girls to go in there and add their notes. We share out weekly, with all of our parents, summaries of all the great things happening in the school. So not just that bathroom but anything else that’s been happening in the school all week long. We take photos and we try to share out that through a weekly newsletter. That’s number four.
And number five, use those great media outlet relationships. So when that TV station called you better believe I was excited to get them in my building, but that’s not the only time we’ve talked to them. We’ve had them up for other events and so they’re our friends because we often give them information of great things that are happening here.
And then the last thing I would say is make sure that you push out your big press releases beyond just your own community. And so I think it’s important that you’re publishing anytime you have awards or recognition, not just the good things happening in hallways, but anytime there’s a specific or special recognition. We were just designated as an AP district of the year or honorable district this year. And so that’s something that we just shared out a couple of weeks ago too that went through our big media outlets.
So I’m just a huge proponent, Vicki, that if we are celebrating the awesome stuff happening in our schools, then at some point we should, especially as public school educators, be taking back the conversation. Because so much of what we’re hearing in the media is the negative things happening in our schools and the persons who can control the communication coming from our schools the best are those of us in the schools.
And so I’m just a huge proponent for celebrating, recognizing, highlighting those things. And I’m not saying that that’s what created this movement of kindness because those kids had been working in cooperation with their teachers and our admin team and all of the folks within our school this year to make that a goal of ours. But they took it to a whole new level. And so I think as we cultivate the soil, as adults in our buildings, and those kids when they start growing and producing fruits from what we’ve been planting in them they’re going to go way farther than we can.
And so the idea they came up with was so much better that anything I could have ever come up on my own.
VICKI: Educators, we have a remarkable story to ponder and how can we promote kindness, and also how can we share the great things happening in our schools far and beyond what just our own school doors? So his name is Will Parker, check the show notes. You can follow him and all of this great work and all the exciting things happening in school and see some pictures about what’s happening. And my hope for you is that you could help kindness go viral too.
WILL: Awesome. Thank you, Vicki.
VICKI: Hello, remarkable teachers. Would you please help me do something? I’m trying to help more people find out about the 10-minute Teacher Show. To do that, if you just could take some time to go to iTunes or to Stitcher and leave a review, it really does help. Thank you so much.
Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at coolcatteacher.com/podcast. Never stop learning.
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