Read Me on McSweeney's
Sharing / Hoarding the Love
This week is Share the Love Week at school--the operative word being "share." I introduced a "Pay It Forward" game today where everyone gets a kindness card with a certain ID number on it. The idea came from a website where you can use ID numbers to log the acts of kindness online and track where your kindness has gone. This logging of a multi-digit number online was a way greater degree of complexity than I was willing to go with--a piece of chart paper with a sticky note for each card number will do just fine for "logging" the kindness in our class.
So we talked about some ideas for different acts of kindness, and then came the giving out of the cards. I suggested that kids keep their kindness cards in their pockets so they'd be ready at a moment's notice to accost someone--Ha! I've been KIND to you! Now you've got to do WORK and write down what I did for you. Take THAT! This was towards the end of the school day, though, and once those cards go home in a pocket, there's a very good chance they'll end up in the black hole that also has claimed piles of homework assignments and several books from our library.
We only had a short time today during which to potentially do kind things and pass the cards on, but gave away my original kindness in fairly short order. As the kids started in on their animal research, I picked up a few kids' pencils, folders, seat cushions strewn around the room and returned them to their rightful spots on my way to help a couple of kids look up information about pandas. I contemplated handing off a card to Patrick as I returned his seat cushion to him for the umpteenth time that day, but decided I'd save it for something a little more substantially kind. I turned around to find Matthew waiting with a question. He asked about the scenario wherein someone does something kind but doesn't leave their card. I told him that he could still take the kindness even without a card. "Because, like, you were just giving people back their stuff and you did something kind for me." I forked over my card.
A mere 15 minutes later as we were packing up to go home, I saw Matthew fanning out a half-dozen Pay It Forward cards and displaying them proudly. "You have to give OUT kindness, too!" I reminded him. We'll see how the rest of the week goes. Perhaps I've just introduced a token economy where the person with the most kindness cards somehow has the most power....
I'm guessing that either of these things are equally likely to happen this week:
a) The cards will travel all around the class and even to our fourth grade reading buddies, potentially making their way back to their originators and thus illustrating how kindness really does spread all around and might even come back to you.
b) They'll all end up in Matthew's pockets.
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