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Random Acts of Kindness: Teaching Kindness in Schools

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Does Kindness matter?

UPDATE: Read the Spark Policy Institute's 2012-13 end of year report report here.

Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Foundation thinks so. RAK has forged a school based pilot in Colorado to assess the implementation of kindness activities in school. What difference will it make? 

In 2008, the Colorado State Board of Education passed a set of social emotional learning competencies that focus on skills needed for a "prepared graduate" in the 21st century. Some of these skills include problem solving, conflict resolution, communication skills, decision making skills and stress management. (CDE Standards and Support & CDE Health and Wellness)

The Random Acts of Kindness school based initiative includes lesson plans and classroom activities that directly correlate with many of these  new state  standards – providing academic staff a way to teach and reinforce these new skills for their students.

The Colorado experience:

Spark Policy Institute has been contracted to design and implement an evaluation that analyzes multiple Kindness components in school, including instructional materials, staff training and related student and staff events. Both qualitative and quantitative analysis and stakeholder feedback allowed us to:

  • Assess the success of the 2011-2012 School Based  Kindness Pilot implementation;
  • Review how the RAK Pilot contributed to the social emotional learning development of students and the overall environment for students and staff;
  • Identify strategies to guide expansion into future school sites; and
  • Inform on-going research and potential publication about best practices of Kindness in schools, school based implementation processes and resulting district, building and classroom-level effects.
  • http://sparkpolicy.com/strategiclearning.htm

Finding results that matter!

During the 2011-2012 school year, teachers voluntarily provided feedback about the use of the kindness materials, time, cost, alignment with curriculum and ease or difficulty of use. Teachers overwhelmingly felt the activities were:

  • Clearly laid out;
  • Adaptable based on teachers’ needs and time;
  • Useful in teaching new skills and engaging youth in kindness oriented work.

They also reported that the materials complemented other behavioral and social emotional learning programs already within schools such as PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support) and Second Step.

At the end of the school year, teachers were asked to report what changes they had seen in their students. Nearly 40 classroom teachers and paraprofessionals responded to the end-of-year survey and 63% of them indicated seeing increased social emotional development in their students. Many of the teachers and staff who observed social emotional growth in their students indicated that RAK’s instructional materials were helpful tools with which to teach the Colorado P-12 Social Emotional Learning standards.

(Summary of Research)

Resources/Links to Other Websites:

Colorado Department of Education. (2009). Comprehensive health & physical education.  Denver, CO: Author.

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (n.d.). Social and emotional learning (SEL) and student benefits: Implications for safe schools/healthy students core elements.  Chicago, IL: Author.

RAK School Based Pilot Evaluation Report, August 2011 – June 2012, JulieMarie Shepherd, Natalie Portman-Marsh and, Jewlya Lyn (LINK)

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