The Fruits of Kindness
A piece from teacher, SENCo and advocate for looked-after children Ginny Bootman, looking at the power of kindness in our classrooms to makes everything better.
So what do we mean when we say that someone is truly being kind to someone else?
In my opinion it means that there is evidence of three things:
When these three elements are being used, then I believe that kindness is literally coming from the heart.
I experience true kindness often, as I’m sure many, even most, educators do. What is surprising is how these moments occur when you least expect them. I’m not even sure that it is the act of kindness that is important. It is what happens immediately afterwards that pulls at our heart strings and gives us that warm fuzzy feeling that only genuine kindness can.
The Apple of Kindness
My day began as normal. Break time arrived and one of my children asked if there was anything to eat? I suggested he look in the fruit basket where there were bananas and tangerines. He very politely told me that he didn’t really want either of those kinds of fruit but would rather have an apple.
At this point in the story I now realise there were a variety of responses I could have given. Obviously, I didn’t realise at the time, but the response I chose fuelled what happened next… I said that I had an apple in my bag which he could have. Once again, I guess, a small act of kindness but nothing out of the ordinary. I duly gave him the apple. He then politely asked if I would cut it in half. Once again I had lots of options but I diligently cut it in half and went to give him the apple back. As I attempted this he took one half and told me to keep the other half. When I questioned why, his reply floored me:
‘It was your apple, we need to share it.’
The Peaches (Tinned) of Kindness
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (which seems such a long time ago) I was in my local supermarket. The lady in front of me was doing her weekly shop which included shopping for her elderly father, as I found out while we waited in the queue to pay. On reaching the cashier, the lady was told that she could only buy two of the three tins of peaches she had placed on the conveyor belt. Clearly disappointed, she tried explaining that her Dad loved his tinned peaches but to no avail.
As she was leaving, I asked her to wait a minute and I bought the third tin of peaches and gave it to her to give to her father. She was over the moon and thanked me profusely. I thought nothing more of it, just that I was pleased to have helped her and her father and continued loading my shopping into my Bags for Life.
As I walked with my trolley to the car a short while later, I heard someone shouting me from afar. When I looked over it was the Peaches Lady as we shall now call her. I walked towards her and saw that she was waving her mobile phone in a very animated fashion and beckoning me over. As I approached, I heard her saying, ‘Here is the lovely lady who bought you your peaches, Dad. Yes, of course I’ll hand you over.’
Next thing I know I had an unexpected but lovely personal thank you for my kindness from Peaches Man as we shall now call him.
Kindness Does Indeed Breed Kindness
Little acts of kindness, fruit-related or otherwise, cost nothing and yet meant so much to so many people in those scenarios. Unexpected generosity, simple friendliness, being considerate - all given and returned.
Kindness really does breed kindness. [ITL]
Ginny Bootman is a speaker on the subject of looked-after children and the role of empathy in the classroom. She is a SENCo at Evolve Church Academy, Northamptonshire. Follow her on Twitter at @sencogirl.