It is very easy in a school to notice the big things, the bad things, the in-your-face things. Are these the important things? Children’s (and adults’) safety is obviously important and children who are making life physically unsafe for others need to be dealt with immediately but after this safety what is important?
Children come to school to learn, I think most people would agree that is almost the definition of a school. What they learn is a different matter and whether they learn what we think we are teaching is another whole discussion in itself. Children learn more than just academic facts in school, they learn about friendships, resolving conflicts, a wide range of vocabulary, how they fit in. They learn by experimenting, they learn by practicing, they learn by accepting the consequences or receiving the rewards.
Some children do all of the right things at the right times and are keen to point out that they have done them. Some do the right things at the right times and keep themselves to themselves. Some children go the extra mile to help, to be kind, to be a good friend and we don’t always notice. They do the little things, the little things that I feel are actually the glue that helps stick us together as a school community. These children are not doing things because it is the right thing, because of the rewards. They do it because people have done these things to them in the past and they know how it feels.
I went into school and a new display had appeared, big, bright, colourful entitled “Random acts of kindness”. Tonight a label was on it saying that one of our children who is normally one of the ones who stands out for the wrong reasons had been spotted doing something kind. Seeing that was great, to know that underneath the brash exterior of someone who often makes the wrong choices is a little person who cares. Hopefully they will see it and want to do more of these things.
We have just got some mini-cards to give to children who we spot doing those little things. They are not doing it for recognition but hopefully they will feel that people do notice the little things and that it is appreciated. Some others may then want to get a card and do little things in the hope of being noticed – does this matter? I don’t think so, do something often enough and it becomes a habit, getting into the habit of doing the little things must be better for us all in the end.