Caring and compassion are vital, teachable skills with the power to promote tolerance and inclusiveness in our schools, communities, and neighborhoods. This fun, three-part series has been designed to inspire and empower children to be ambassadors for good beyond their immediate friends and family.Read More
Welcome to Making Caring Common’s Resources for Educators!
We offer strategies, resources lists, audits, surveys, discussion guides, and more, which we hope you will use in your school. Our work includes key topics, all connected by our commitment to forefront caring and concern for the common good at school, at home, and in our communities. You can review the list of resources below or use the dropdown to sort by topic.
To help educators learn how to build empathy among their school communities, the Making Caring Common Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education reviewed existing research on empathy and the strategies of evidence-based programs that promote it. Our work shows that there’s more to developing empathy than simply asking students to “walk in someone else’s shoes.”
In this resource, you’ll find steps you can take to build real empathy in your students and your community.Read More
There may be nothing more important in a child’s life than a positive and stable relationship with a caring adult. For students, a positive connection to at least one school adult — whether a teacher, counselor, sports coach, or other school staff member — can have tremendous benefits that include reduced bullying, lower drop-out rates, and improved social emotional capacities.
Rather than leave these connections to chance, relationship mapping invests time in making sure that every student is known by at least one adult.
Using this strategy, school staff identify youth who do not currently have positive connections with school adults during a private meeting. Those students are then paired with a supportive adult mentor within the school. Throughout the year, mentors support each other through the successes and challenges of building relationships with students, and school administrators routinely communicate with staff to determine how well the process is going. At the end of the year, the staff convenes to talk about how their efforts may have positively affected students. Adults may also choose to pay particular attention to “at risk” students as these connections may be particularly important for students who are having a hard time at home or in school.Read More
How can we inspire and teach young people to care about and take responsibility for others, to think clearly about and pursue justice, to stand up for important principles?
Research suggests that developing these key moral capacities is not achieved via one-shot class assignments or brief programs but through sustained commitment and reflection within the context of peer and adult relationships. Yet children rarely engage in either substantial ethical activities or reflection, guided by adults who stand for important moral values, or even dialogue about how to live those values day to day.
Shared experiences and rituals can tie together school and community as places that value care and commitment and play a vital part in fostering a moral identity in students. Over the course of a semester or an academic year, the Caring Community Youth Capstone supports young people’s ethical development and builds a positive school culture where young people are responsible for creating a caring community.Read More
The School Climate Committee is a key mechanism for creating positive social norms, for reducing bullying, and for developing more respectful, caring children. It also gives students agency in creating positive social norms.
A growing body of research supports the key role of school culture and social norms in preventing a wide array of social and emotional problems and promoting the development of caring, responsible, and respectful children. As children enter adolescence, they are especially influenced by social norms — by what other teen’s consider important, by how other teens define who is and is not worthy of concern, and by how other teens gain power and respect.
Because students primarily take signals from other students about social norms and what is ethically acceptable, and because students have inside knowledge about social dynamics, it is mainly students—especially acting together—who can change norms. This School Climate Committee strategy is one way to channel student power and influence in their school community.Read More
Helping students develop greater empathy is essential for building a positive school climate, but equally important is considering who students have empathy for.
Children and adults alike are predisposed to empathize for those who are in their own social group. For example, “jocks” may have empathy for other jocks, but not for “nerds.” Boys may have empathy for other boys, but not for girls. Sometimes children lack empathy for their peers who are socially challenged or have disabilities. Empathy for many different kinds of people is important in its own right and is the basis for children’s developing conceptions of and commitments to fairness and justice.
The Circle of Concern strategy is designed to help children — and adults — become more aware of those for whom they don’t have empathy. It is also designed to widen their circle of concern.Read More
As children get older, they face ever more complex situations that can be difficult to navigate.
Particularly salient are moral or ethical dilemmas, which concern issues of fairness, justice, and caring. These are decision-making problems without definitive right or wrong choices that affect other people as well as the self, and thus, they are fruitful exercises in moral reasoning.
With this light-lift strategy, students will practice evaluating and constructing moral or ethical dilemmas to get them thinking critically about others’ perspectives and feelings in challenging situations. Students will reflect on their own judgments of others and the importance of context, and what they themselves could do in challenging times.
Currently, our What Would You Do? strategy is available to schools in our Caring Schools Network. Reach out to Glenn Manning, Senior Program Coordinator at Making Caring Common to learn more about Caring Schools Network.Read More
Storytelling is a powerful tool for eliciting emotion and curiosity. It can be especially valuable in prompting students to reflect on their own identities and values, and to recognize that despite people’s differing stories, we all share commonalities. Stories are a great reminder that we are all human and that we are all capable of bridging difference through understanding and connecting emotionally with others.
With this light-lift strategy, students will identify and investigate their personal set of values and what/who matters to them. Students will use these values to guide the telling of (and making sense of) their own story. Using Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story” as a guide, students will then learn about real people’s stories, particularly those often marginalized or misunderstood. Finally, students will make connections between their own and others’ stories to appreciate the similarities and differences in their values.
Currently, our Story of Us strategy is available to schools in our Caring Schools Network. Reach out to Glenn Manning, Senior Program Coordinator at Making Caring Common to learn more about Caring Schools Network.Read More
There are many approaches to good listening, and this lesson centers around three primary skills: engaged body language, true focus, and expressing empathy.
The more students practice active listening, without being in a two-way conversation, the more they’ll come to value showing interest when someone is speaking, trying to understand their thoughts and feelings, and making them feel heard. The personal nature of the listening prompts also sets the stage for student sharing, which can build trust and connection in the classroom.
With this light-lift strategy, students will practice being active, authentic listeners with a partner — listening to make the speaker feel heard and without the need to reciprocate the conversation, but rather, to better understand and communicate with the speaker. By speaking for up to a few minutes, speakers will also get more comfortable sharing about themselves and expressing vulnerability.
Currently, our Listening Deeply strategy is available to schools in our Caring Schools Network. Reach out to Glenn Manning, Senior Program Coordinator at Making Caring Common to learn more about Caring Schools Network.Read More
Students’ capacity for empathy can be developed by learning to appreciate other people’s stories.
By engaging with others in a structured way and trying to shape a narrative that encapsulates a piece of that person, students will understand the nuances of lived experiences, values, and perspectives. By interviewing others, especially those who may be different from them, they will practice vulnerability and develop trust, which in turn will strengthen their school community.
With this light-lift strategy, students will dive into narratives of self and others to offer more nuanced perspectives and feelings around people’s stories. The narratives will mirror the “Humans of New York” series, and students will study a few of them to get a sense of the expectations (e.g., interviewing other students or faculty members). Humans of Your School provides students with opportunities to connect with those different from them, to listen to different stories and try to understand their different perspectives, and to appreciate differences while also finding commonalities.
Currently, our Humans of Your School strategy is available to schools in our Caring Schools Network. Reach out to Glenn Manning, Senior Program Coordinator at Making Caring Common to learn more about Caring Schools Network.Read More
Research shows that being kind and caring makes people feel good — by recognizing the appreciation of others as well as beginning to view oneself as altruistic or compassionate.
Studies have also shown that feeling care and concern for others is linked to altruism, and an effective strategy to spark caring is to encourage people to imagine what others are going through and how they feel. Kindness and caring are also contagious. Literally. They can spread and influence people to do good deeds beyond their existing networks.
With this light-lift strategy, students reflect and discuss how to encourage more kindness and caring, for themselves and others, at their school and beyond. They will practice regular intentional acts so they become routine and normalized parts of students’ lives. By reporting back, students will learn about each other’s experiences and likely use them as sources of inspiration. The activity encourages a variety of kind and caring acts, including self-improvement.
Currently, our Everyday Caring strategy is available to schools in our Caring Schools Network. Reach out to Glenn Manning, Senior Program Coordinator at Making Caring Common to learn more about Caring Schools Network.Read More
How do you know if your school is a caring, inclusive community where students are building healthy relationships and developing key social and emotional skills?
Our School Culture and Climate Surveys help schools better understand the experiences of students, educators, and parents as they relate to:
Bullying, discrimination, and harassment
Student and adult relationships
Rules and expectations
When schools have more insight into problem areas, they can implement strategies that lead to positive changes in their community.
Currently, our School Culture and Climate Surveys — and related data reports and strategies — are available exclusively to schools in our Caring Schools Network. Reach out to Glenn Manning, Senior Program Coordinator at Making Caring Common to learn more.Read More
There are many programs, interventions, services, and resources available that can support student well-being and the development of positive school culture and climate. Before adopting new programs or substantially changing current practices, it is helpful to review and consider school-based programs and resources that are already in place. Doing so helps ensure that services are not duplicative of each other and strategically align to support your school’s vision.
Resource mapping is a strategy for identifying and analyzing the programs, people, services, and other resources that currently exist in your school. This information can help school leaders better assess the needs of the school and to make informed decisions about where to focus change efforts.
By the end of this activity, you will have a deeper understanding of the key programs and resources related to well-being and culture that your school is already utilizing, which will give you a solid foundation for planning.Read More
A growing body of research supports the potential benefits of mindfulness, including stress reduction, emotion regulation, better relationship satisfaction, and improved memory and attention.
Applications of mindfulness, the practice of focusing our attention in a particular way, can be relatively easy to implement and are not time intensive. Given the benefits and feasibility, mindfulness has become increasingly popular across a variety of fields, including medicine, psychology, business, and more recently, in education.
Evaluations of school-based mindfulness practices have shown positive findings, including increased attention, self-control, class participation, and respect for others. Mindfulness practices can also serve as a powerful classroom management tools, reducing stress for teachers and students. Many mindfulness activities can be easily interwoven into routine classroom activities and lessons. They can also be extremely useful during transitions, for example, settling down after beginning a new class. Given the potential benefits and the ease of implementing mindfulness practices, these strategies are well-suited for schools.
While there are many methods of practicing mindfulness, we have provided the following short practices to serve as an introduction. We have also included a list of resources where you may find additional information about mindfulness as well as other mindfulness exercises.Read More
Too often the elderly are invisible to others, and perhaps especially to teenagers. As adults, we can teach students to show respect and to demonstrate compassion towards the elderly by giving students opportunities to better understand the impact of discrimination or apathy toward the elderly. We can also help students develop empathy and practice compassion and respect for the elderly in their day-to-day lives.
The following case study includes a short story from multiple viewpoints and a set of questions designed to facilitate discussion about respecting and caring for the elderly and the importance of maintaining commitments and volunteering for selfless reasons.Read More
The KIND Schools Challenge is a partnership between The KIND Foundation, started by KIND Healthy Snacks, and Making Caring Common to support students seeking to make their schools kinder and more inclusive. Out of 200 ideas that were submitted from across the country, 10 incredible finalists were selected to implement their projects. This toolkit highlights selected concepts that are easy and fun to bring into any classroom.Read More
The KIND Schools Challenge team at Dodge County High School in Eastman, Georgia have spent the past several months developing a bingo challenge to spread kindness in their school community. They’ve been able to inspire students throughout the school to think twice before being unkind and are excited to continue their progress! Here’s what the students have to say.Read More
The KIND Schools Challenge team at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy in Fort Worth, Texas has made enormous progress on their work to increase kindness in their community. Their project, "HIT" Your Insecurities, features small group conversations to build community and culminates in a celebratory event where the team will fill piñatas with students’ written insecurities and break them to symbolize overcoming those insecurities. Here’s what the students have to say about their work on the project so far.Read More
The KIND Schools Challenge team at Fair Park Preparatory Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana aims to create community amongst students from many neighborhoods during the first year of the school’s existence. Their project encourages students to add kind and encouraging messages to a “Kind Box" that other students can take if they need a boost. Here’s what the students have to say about how their work is going so far.Read More
The KIND Schools Challenge team at Medford High School in Medford, Massachusetts has been working tirelessly to create a collection of videos to help English-language learners (ELL) at their school feel more confident navigating everyday tasks at school and in their community. Here’s what the students have to say about the their project.Read More