It was late November as I started to hang up my Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) bags on clothespins in front of my classroom window. Each year we use these bags to not only count down until Winter break, but to bring attention to ways to be kind, through prompts and activities. I explain to my students that during the holiday season we are all a little kinder, a little more considerate, and little more loving to one another.
Afterward, I draped my string of Christmas lights along the wall surrounding our morning meeting area. The lights added to the festive nature, reminding me of good things in the world, like fairs, summer nights, and neon lights. I told my students that our lights reminded us to be kind to others; a symbol of goodness we should remember.
But soon the time was up. As the break approached and I prepared to take down my decorations I had a thought: why is kindness only once a year? Why take down my lights as if "kind time" is over and it's time to head back to the hustle and bustle, the pushing and shoving?
And so they stayed; through winter, spring, summer and fall. And the story of kindness no longer began in December with the hanging of lights, but in September with the reason why the lights are still hanging.
You see, lights are not just lights, they are symbols to which we attach constructs of our behavior. They are the meat, that prompts us to ring the bell, which in this case is the bell of kindness to all.
The next time you see lights in a classroom stop to reflect on their significance and ask the teacher why. Because it's not what it seems...it's not a light string with an expiration date, but a reminder of a year long practice cemented to our schema through visually cues and memories.