Build a Lasting Culture of Kindness in Your School

Elementary and middle-level schools nationwide are joining the movement to build community, empathy, inclusion, connection, social awareness, and appreciation for others.
November 2018, Volume 42, Issue 3

At Choose to Be Nice (CTBN) schools, students learn about nine special values and character traits underlying kindness and participate in activities throughout the year to take action based on what they’re learning. They make a difference in their schools, at home, and in the community. The programs create a common language and promote a lasting culture of kindness.

About the Program

CTBN is an organization designed to build community, empathy, inclusion, connection, social awareness and appreciation for others.

“It’s not just about doing nice things, although that’s important,” said CTBN founder Dina Creiger. “It’s really about improving the way we all interact with each other by reminding us that we have choices every single day about how to be in this world. Choosing to be nice is about who we are as people. It’s a way of life. It’s about making eye contact. It’s about being present in our interactions with others. It’s about respecting others’ ways of thinking even if we disagree.”

The CTBN school programs offers administrators and educators a turn-key social and emotional learning curriculum to incorporate learning and changed or improved behaviors in a positive and proactive way.

How It Works

Enrolled schools receive a Welcome Kit filled with everything they need to start the program. At a launch assembly or rally, students, staff, and parents are invited to make the CTBN promise to spread kindness and be nice to others daily. They sign a special banner that gets hung in a prominent location as a constant reminder throughout the school year. A detailed Welcome Guide outlines how to roll out the program throughout the year.

The classroom curriculum introduces students to nine character traits that are at the core of the program: respect, kindness, acceptance, teamwork, honesty, responsibility, friendship, patience, and courage. One character trait is taught and reinforced each month using age-appropriate children’s literature, activities, reproducible worksheets, extension ideas, and home links. The lessons for early elementary school students feature Nine Nice Mice, while lessons for older elementary students feature Nine Nice Kids. The middle-level program uses project-based learning to reinforce the nine character traits. A high school program in development will incorporate mentoring.

In addition to the curriculum that is taught and reinforced throughout the school year, students form a Choose To Be Nice Club, engage in the 101 Ways To Choose To Be Nice Challenge, fundraise using CTBN apparel and merchandise, and plan for CTBN week at the end of the year. A year-end teacher survey helps to inform any changes, updates, and additions for the following year’s program. CTBN stresses the importance of keeping the program fresh and new every year that a school is enrolled in the program.

Promising Research

Pilot research shows that students at CTBN schools have better social-emotional outcomes at the end of the school year than students at schools without the program, including more positive attitudes toward school, positive peer interactions, and prosocial behaviors with peers. This year seven schools are participating in additional research to further validate the efficacy of the program.

Here’s how you can bring CTBN to your school. Follow the movement on Twitter and Facebook.

NAESP has partnered with CTBN to promote this initiative to elementary and middle-level schools.

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