CLEARWATER, Fla. — “Kindness” is cool in Tampa Bay area schools.
In order to help de-stress today’s students who now deal with peer pressure, social media and outside cultural influences as well as any problems at home, more local teachers are incorporating lessons and practices on kindness.
“Not only do kids have to have academic needs met, they have to have their social and emotional needs met,” says Kathy Bilello, a third-grade teacher at McMullen-Booth Elementary in Clearwater.
Educators say kindness is also a gateway for students to do better on tests and receive higher grades. It helps to clear kids' minds of other troubles so they can concentrate better.
Bilello’s students are responding.
“It actually cheers me up, and it cheers everybody else up,” says 10-year-old Rain.
“Some of them do have cell phones, and social media, but there’s also all the normal kid stuff they have to deal with,” says Bilello, one of the leaders of this kindness project.
Bilello often has kids gather in a “restorative circle,” where they can talk informally about what is making them happy or sad.
There is also a Kindness Bear who makes the rounds. If you have a big heart, you get to give him a big squeeze.