The following story was submitted to Love What Matters by Haley Curfman, a second-grade teacher at Blackwell Elementary School in Blackwell, Oklahoma. She chronicles her teaching life on her Facebook page, The Weary Teacher.
“I try to always teach my students to spread kindness. We don’t have art at our school, so I try to do little projects here and there. I think it’s a great creative outlet for students and an easy way for teachers like myself to incorporate a little fun art project into a school system that doesn’t offer art as a class.
As for my students, I hope that by encouraging them to draw things that make them happy, or to write kind words, they will find it second nature to lead with kindness. Also, maybe in someone way when they see me wearing it and how proud I am of the work they’ve done, they will take pride in being kind and the work they’ve done. They beam when I actually wear it — it’s always great. Maybe it’s something little that can make a difference or set someone on a kind path.
This was used as an incentive, when they completed their work or had a little time they could go to the table and draw… ‘Anything that makes them happy!’ is all I instructed, which is why last year’s dress had a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man drawn across the entire back, lol.
I guess that’s the great part of the project — the only ‘NO’ is don’t scribble out your work, turn it into something beautiful. I have a lot of students in 2nd grade that like to scribble and start over.
To give something back to them, I bought each student a t-shirt out of my own money and I put vinyl letters on them that spelled out ‘Kindness’ and they filled each other’s shirts with kind words. They wore them during Kindness Week at an assembly at our school (Blackwell Elementary School) this year, and then I let them take them home as their Valentine’s present (same week). This is the second year, we’ve done this.
Last year, I entered the dress in our local county fair. The students won a blue ribbon for their work and it was displayed all week at the fair. I plan to do it again this year.
They love it. They are proud and should be. They put a lot of thought into their drawings and kind words. Hopefully, the kind thoughts will go with them when they leave my classroom and they can spread that out into the world.”