Category Archives: Tuesday Twelve

Tuesday Twelve–Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

Teaching Kindness in the Classroom

A couple months ago I was substitute teaching in a second grade classroom. A student’s snack-bag of chips had fallen out of her cubby in the coat room and it resulted in everyone stepping on her bag of chips. She came into the classroom with a very sad face and a smashed bag of chips.

I asked how many students had noticed a bag of chips on the floor. Almost every student raised their hand. One small voice commented they did not know whose snack it was.

My next question was, “Who thought they should pick it up?” Half the students that had noticed the bag raised their hands.

I took a jump, a leap, and commented probably you did not think what would come next and continued to state if someone picked up the bag they could have come to me and said I found this on the floor–it would be the kind thing to do.

That day had been full of tattling, eye-rolling, kicking each other under the desk. The students were quick to point out wrong doing. It was so easy to see what was wrong with their room and their world. But to choose the right and kind thing not so easy.

How can we promote kindness? Teach Kindness?

1. Create kindness badges or tokens as a class project. Use tags, buttons, or some other small object that can be decorated. Use these tokens to reward kind activity in the classroom. At the end of the week recognize the “Kind Student of the Week.” This can be a lesson in being a good citizen.

2. As a follow-up or lesson to go in tandem with kindness badges have students collect current events that point out good deeds and positive actions in their community. Try to involve parents if possible. Bring up a story of kindness each week with students. Have a bulletin board for posting topics brought in.

3. Thank You Projects. Have students practice letter writing by sending thank you notes. Have students create a kindness award for volunteers in the classroom.

4. Check out the many grade school and middle school lessons pre-planned at The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

5. With older students discuss the idea of “Paying it Forward.” How does this change a persons perspective both for the person receiving the kindness and the person giving. An Internet search will bring up current events as examples.

6. Pick a service project as a class or start a school effort to help in your community. Think Summer, too! Having a bulletin board or posting area with summer opportunities for students.

7. Encourage students to use their manners, please, thank you, your welcome, and holding doors open or helping carry packages. Simple but wonderfully effective. Give lots of praise to students.

8. Teach and practice thoughtful listening. Here is a resource to use with 3-4 graders. 

9. Have you ever seen a “Happy Face” poster that shows many different expressions?Have a unit on expressions. Morning eye-openers could include how many words can you come up with that mean ‘happy” or “sad”. This could be excellent for journal activities as well.

10. Role playing or puppet shows on topics can be an excellent way to illustrate any of the lessons posted above.

11. Emoticons. Those experssions  we have become accustomed to in Instant Messenging and Texting have become a shorthand for “real” expression :-( this makes me sad. I think something is being lost here :-/. What can we do :-? I was thinking of a poster project where we pick and emoticon and then illustrate it in real emotions or actions.

12. Body Language Lesson–Break students up in small groups and have them pantomime scenario’s and then discuss the body language sued to act out each scene. use this as a launching point to further discussions on body language and communication.

Tuesday Twelve—How to Jump Start your Muse in February

Happy Leap Year! Oh my Gosh! 8 years ago today I wrote a poem entitled, “I am bored with the 29 days in February” and here we are another long winter where I dream of long walks under hemlocks on spring days when the soil releases aromas held under the snow for months. I could just sleep until the start of an Upper Peninsula Spring. The bear in me wants nothing more than to hibernate and dream of summer blueberries and thimbleberries. 

1. Make Goal Lists

2. Share Goal List with a supportive Friend or Colleague

3. Challenge self with a new pursuit

4. Reward self with a spa treatment

5. Purchase new Music.

6. Light candles, lots of candles.

7. Pull out supplies not used in a  long time–play!

8. Have friends over for a potluck dinner.

9. Use vibrant scents such as Sweet Orange to awaken your mind!

10. Do heart opening Yoga poses such as—Camel Pose  or Cobra .


11. Use bright color in your art, your food, your clothing.

 12. Sing! Chant! Open your throat Chakra. 

Tuesday Twelve-How to Help a Substitute Feel Welcome in Your School

My favorite schools help me feel like a professional. They are welcoming schools that provide me with tools and knowledge. A good school fosters your success.

  • It is useful to have a folder with disciplinary forms, lockdown and drill procedures, phone numbers, extensions and dialing instructions to offices.
  • Name badges, or a badge that identifies you as a substitute teacher or aide allow other staff to greet you and offer guidance and support.
  • Having the principal, vice principal or other designated administrator stop in shows students they are expected to respect, and lets the substitute know they are in a supportive environment.
  • Inform your substitute teachers who does the scheduling and how to update availability, and if an emergency arrives how they can call-in.
  • Greeting the substitute in halls is friendly and sets a tone. Unfortunately, I have been in schools where I walk down the school and no one looks me in the eye.
  • Provide substitutes with your school calendar. This allows subs to prepare for vacation times or attend school concerts and sporting events.
  • Let substitutes know where job postings for the district are posted.
  • Where is the lounge? Where can I put my lunch? Is there a coffee pot?
  • What do you expect of substitutes during prep hours?
  • Is there a staff bathroom near the classroom? Do we get a break? In a grade school that I frequent I get two breaks and a lunch. I love my days there as I pace myself and get a breather.
  • If you are the teacher leaving notes, please let us know what disciplinary tools you use in the classroom and the time students shift subjects, rooms or go to specials.
  • When leaving notes let us know which staff we can turn to in a pinch, and ask them to pop their head in during the course of the day.

Tuesday Twelve–Unexpected Blessings in an Upper Peninsula Winter

Surviving Blue Monday and flourishing in this Upper Peninsula winter have me counting blessings:Eben Ice Caves, Photo 72, Copyright KimNixon

  • The new song and video of Alison Krause and Robert Plant, “Gone, Gone, Gone”
  • Finding something to love outdoors in the month of  January, Eben Ice Caves
  • Being assigned a local freelance article on Organics
  • Meeting my new personal trainer, Evan, at Ringside Fitness
  • Restarting my yoga practice with Kim, at Ringside Fitness
  • Taking  a weekday off of  “my job” and focusing on my artistic side
  • Blossoming African Violets
  • Having my father be a benefactor for one of my previously written pieces
  • Dinner at Beth and Mike’s with earthy potato soup and melt-in-your-mouth roast
  • The book, Write it Down and Make it Happen by Henriette Klauser
  • The book, Women & Money by Suze Orman
  • Finding the perfect frames for the photo, Mist Woods

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Tuesday 12–Classroom Misbehavior and the Substitute Teacher

 A good substitute teacher loves kids and has an easy-going nature. you can take a joke. Yo have the patience of a saint. But you still have to have your voice at the end of the day so here are some tips to keep the classroom orderly, don’t talk over the noise. Don’t let them walk all over you. Yo are still in the classroom to teach. I know often times it feels like you are simply “putting out fires” everywhere you turn. But the school district and teacher have invited you into the classroom for the day–it is a privilege you must honor. At the end of the day thank the kids, let them know what worked for you and perhaps what did not–you may be back.

1. Set Expectations at the beginning of class.

2. Allow students to ask 10 questions in an interview process. Only answer questions by students who raise their hands (give praise). How you handle the interview will let students know a bit about your teaching style without them thinking your laying out the law.

3. If you had time to meet with the teacher ask about classroom rules and consequences. You can also look for the class rules to be posted in the room. You can point to the rules and review them if necessary.

4. Classroom transitions are difficult especially in a K-7 classroom to regain classroom attention you can turn lights low, clap hands, ring a bell or wind-chimes, hold up the universal quiet sign a raised palm or peace symbol.

5. Write the days schedule on board with times (if you can) and erase as you go, or ask the student who cannot sit still to erase for you.

6. Offer a stretch break.

7. Circulate through the room to keep student attention on you. Touch desks as you go by. Point to the page or flip a student page if necessary. Never sit behind your teacher desk.

8. Most students respond to a count down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. And will automatically self-correct and encourage the rest of the class.

9. Stay Positive! Use praise. I see “Johnny” is raising his hand. I notice “Sally” is on the right page. List the helpful students on the board so they know you reward good behaviour.

10. Reward=Recess or Reward=Snack. You can tell students they are working toward a goal. As students are helpful and responsive you put the letters to the following words up 1-by-1 on the board. Make sure it fits with the class plan for the day and is in line with school rules. Make sure the snack you offer has no peanut products due to kids with allergies.

11. If you are a long-term substitute consider arranging your classroom in a horseshoe or “U” set-up that allows for easy motion and maximum attention of students. Include a silent study area in a screened area of the room for the students who need extra quiet, change of scene, or to make-up tests.

12. Always identify those who cannot sit still, they may be trying so hard they are under their desks or twisted in knots. Find tasks for them to get them up and moving. They will become fast friends and allies to you. 

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Tuesday Twelve–The Passage of Time

Passage of Time--Springs, copyright Kim Nixon

In 2007, I had many goals as a mother, grandmother and artist. Growth in my loving relationship with Mike. Career. I discovered many aspects of myself. The above photo was taken with a disposable camera, Fuji 400 film. I was beginning to fall in love with image, shadow, light, time, age. The photo was taken in the backyard at Ramblin’ Rose Art Center in Mohawk Michigan. It was a trip that would play more into the development of my life as Artist than I would first give the trip credit for. Thanks Carol! Below are the 12 reflections for this Tuesday.

  1. Making personal space for reflection let me know the pattern of my thoughts, tuned me into fears, and allowed me to see the world.
  2. I feel better when walking on trail, spongy ground, breathing outdoor air.
  3. I enjoy photography it allows me to say more than words.
  4. I am beginning to feel like an artsy arrangement of springs left to weather.
  5. Birth, maturity, growth, I am gifted through the eyes of all around me, daughter, grandson, mate…
  6. I crave community, still.
  7. Vines in the garden remind me of adventures and offshoots to the path, vignettes, poems.
  8. I miss my mother, the first creator I was in awe of.
  9. Crayons are still my favorite tool.
  10. Music breathes life into sullen dark days.
  11. Movement heals.
  12. Touch centers us all.

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Tuesday Twelve–Ways to Create Abundance

  • Gratitude Journal–I find keeping a separate journal for writing my gratitudes useful. I use colorful pens and pencils to get artsy and inspired. Writing my at the end of the day helps me sleep peacefully. I have not done this in a few years but I am starting anew. Visit Notebookism for ideas.  
  • Positive Affirmations—The magic has been slipping for me and I am losing the language of abundance to get the magic back I will use positive affirmations like found on  The Secret web-page .
  •  Reread Creating Money—This is a book that I studied in a group with life coach, Deb Russ . The women I met and shared time with are still a network I can turn to. Don’t let the title of the book fool you this book is about all abundance. 
  • Watch the Movie–The Secret
  •  Watch the Movie –Pay it Forward 
  • Commit Pay it Forward Acts–Remember how this Holiday Season a Tai Chi Master started a chain reaction visit:  Hundreds pay it forward in line at local Starbucks.  
  • Combat Negative ThoughtsWhy Don’t You Get a Real Job?“How many of us have had that question hammered into our consciousness?  I would bet that most musicians, artists, actors, writers, missionaries, athletes, entrepreneurs, stay-at-home parents, and inventors have all had to deal with this question.” Visit this Skye Thomas to read more.  
  • Share your Talents–Volunteer in your community. I volunteer for the Marquette Food Coop on the Education and Outreach Committee—you ask, “why is this an abundant act?” I am working with community and building community. I am helping educate others on organic and natural food choices that I believe help local CSA farms and our planet. It gives me a break from my day job as well. Reminding me I have another wealth of knowledge to share. 
  • Pay with Intention—When paying for local services like your massage therapist. Put your payment or tip in an envelope you have created. Draw a scene, shade the envelope with a colored pencil, and write a quote on the outside. Let them know how much you appreciate their talents and time. 
  • Resources—Make a list of 10 useful or inspiring websites that keep you positive and working toward your goals. The Original Impulse Blog is one of my resources as a writer and artist.  
  • Visit Christine Kane’s Website –read Resolution Revolution: A Better Way to Start Your Year and choose your word or theme for 2008! Check back in and I will let you know what my word for 2008. 
  •  Connect with the Magic—Stay positive and connect with possibility. Do what you need to keep this feeling alive be it working with children, the elderly, getting out-of-doors and watching moss grow. If you deprive yourself you will have no fuel to move forward. Remember that there are many alternatives these days to keep that engine running ;-)

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Tuesday 12–Ways to Create Calm in a Classroom

1. Lower lighting–Fluorescent noise is bright and loud.

2. Personalize–Let students know who you are by creating atmosphere by hanging photos, trips, hobbies somewhere in room.

3. Don’t make a room too busy–Many students need less stimuli and thematic color and less clutter equal more zen.

4. Create a quiet reading area with carpet, comfy seating and a variety of books on a shelf.

5. Create a separate area for make-up tests in a far corner of room, screening from distractions.

6. Let students know what is needed as they enter room by posting on door or hallway wall before entering.

7. Have a lending system for pencils to avoid the constant interruptions for writing utensils.

8. Stretch–Have students take deep breaths and stretch part way through class, especially in blocked classes that are longer than an hour.

9. Vary activity–Do not leave students at same task too long. Look to age appropriate attention spans.

10. Who cannot stay seated?–Let this student have tasks out of their desk chair at intervals throughout the period or day.

11. Offer Choices– We all work better with choice, but to avoid argument make sure a democratic vote is offered.

12. Post classroom rules and have class meetings each week.

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Tuesday Twelve—Books on the Shelf

This is an accounting of books I have read, books I intend to read, and books recently purchased. They might not be on an actual shelf as I am running out of space on shelves. I am trying to make a goal of reading before purchasing. And to make my stacks of unread books smaller than my wish list at Amazon (HA!).

I have been concentrating on the sense of place, nature, the environment and sharing our talents. Many of my impulse and planned purchases have centered on the idea of giving workshops, encouraging connection to the land,  or leading a book club.

My intention in publishing these selections as part of the Tuesday Twelve is twofold. What are you reading; what has brought inspiration to your endeavors or where are you heading in the future. Please share a post and let us know. My second purpose is to offer a glimpse into what topics will be soon appearing in The Dailies or workshops coming in the future.

1. Blessed Unrest
(Paul Hawken)

2. Making Journals By Hand
(Jason Thompson)

3. A Trail through Leaves: The Journal as a Path to Place
(Hannah Hinchman)

4. Hiking Michigan’s Upper Peninsula:
A Guide to the Greatest Hiking Adventures in the U.P.

(Eric Hansen)

5. This Common Ground: Seasons on an Organic Farm
 (Scott Chaskey)

6. Nature Smart: Awesome Projects to
Make with Mother’s Nature’s Help

(Dein, Krautwurst, Anderson, Rhatigan & Smith)

7. The Language of Landscape
(Anne Whiston Spirin)

8. The Alphabet of Trees: A Guide to Nature Writing
(Christian McEwan and Mark Strand)

9. Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes
(Alison Swan)

10. Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape
(Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney)

11. Big Purple Mommy: Nurturing Our Creative Work,
Our Children, and Ourselves
(Coleen Hubbard)

12. Into the Field: A Guide to Locally Focused Teaching
(Nature Literacy Series Vol. 3) (Nature Literacy Series No. 3)

 To Nature writers and those who wish to bring hope to community–Please share your thoughts on inspiring works you have read.

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Tuesday 12–Ways to Keep Persepective During Holidays

1. Volunteer your time.

2. Feed the hungry.

3. Bake cookies with grandchildren/children.

4. Visit the community Christmas tree at night.

 5. Sing, sing, sing!

6. Feed the birds.

7. Make homemade gifts and ornaments.

8. Don’t over commit.

9. Remember the joy of a fuzzy afghan and a cup of nog.

10. Give more hugs.

11. Get a massage.

12. Take time to reflect on the year past.

Don’t forget to check out for more Inspiration!

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