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“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings and propel us, on occasion, to greatness”  – R.J. Palacio, Wonder

Today’s quote is one I took from a beautiful piece of work, Wonder. I’ve yet to read the book (my 2018 book list is getting huge!), but I saw the movie over the holidays and wow. 
So rather than making my second post of the year about persistence and sticking to your goals, I thought I’d follow the theme in Wonder and talk about character, kindness, friendship and greatness. I’ll also touch on a few goals I’m in the process of writing up. (If you know me, you know I set goals biannually- on my birthday, and 6 months later). This year, I feel that my goals should include a donation to charity – if not money, then definitely time.

On Courage & Kindness

Now, I’m not sure what your junior high or high school experiences were like, or what the environment is like like where you teach. I’ve seen kids be pretty cruel though. As much as bullying “zero tolerance” policies exist, so do ways around them.
Actually, I’m glad I grew up before the internet became huge (I remember I was 10 years old when I sent my first email, and in second-year university when Facebook came out, limited to uni students only). I can online imagine how horrible cyber-bullying must be.
Can you imagine a bully that follows you home, into every space of your life? I feel for kids in schools these days, so what can we do about it?

How To Encourage Kindness Motivational Monday 53 Make It Happen

How can we encourage kindness in the classroom? Well, that’s not the easiest of questions to answer, I find!  Here are a couple of ideas that I’ve come across in my search. Now, I haven’t tried these yet, but if you haveplease comment and tell us how it went!

  • Respect Recognition Wall – I wish I could find the link where I heard about this one (somewhere on Pinterest!). A teacher had large charts stuck on the wall, with quotes about respect.  Then, she had a second poster with blank sticky notes on it.  It read:
    • “I saw ______________ demonstrating the principle of respect by _________”
    • It’s basically a way to recognize students for their efforts at being kind and respectful. How cool is that?


  • Kindness Apps –  Did you know that there are apps to encourage people to be kind?  One, in particular, is quite popular. It’s called TBH  (To be honest) and allows teens to answer polls about their friends anonymous. The content is positive  (e.g. Who makes you laugh the hardest? Who is most likely to be the president?) etc., and you are notified when you or a friend has been tagged. Net Nanny has a great article about how it works.


On Charity

 I think charity donations come in two forms – time, and money. I used to pride myself in always donating one or the other, but I’m sad to say I haven’ t done a whole lot of that during the past five years.  Before, I used to volunteer with Girl Guides of Canada (for many years, actually), and then with a dog shelter.
Being busy is definitely not an excuse, and I find my lack of action quite sad. So, that’s on my goals list for the year! If you’re in Barcelona, feel free to throw out some volunteering ideas in the comments!

What Is Strength of Character?

Motivational Monday Goal Setting

In my view, strength of character is the ability to overcome incredibly difficult circumstances with a positive spirit. Now, that’s a tough guiding principle to follow.  It always helps me to look up to heroes who I hear about on TED Talks, in articles, movies or books. When all the odds are against you, and you never give up – that’s strength.

If you want to read a bit more about that, read my post on becoming the person who can reach your goal, no matter how difficult it is. I love using examples I find in real life in my lesson plans, too. (Stay tuned for my Teachers Pay Teachers store, which will be out later this year. I plan to have lesson plans on diversity and strength using real-life examples!)



Strong Character Examples:

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you may have heard me mention Turia Pitt, the extreme marathon runner/model who was caught in a grass fire and burned more than half of her body. They told her she would never walk again, yet about a year ago, she did the Ironman.

Toughness and resilience in situations like these is (in my view), absolutely incredible.  You can read my post on other strong characters here.


Wonder: August Pullman

The amount of mental strength the character in the book/movie  Wonder has is phenomenal. In case you haven’t seen the trailer, the film is about a young boy born with a disfigured face. When his mother decides he needs to face the real world and go to school rather than always enrolling in high school, he rises to the challenge.


When given the chance to run away from it all and return to homeschool, he chooses to see it through a bit longer.
He chooses to keep going.
He stays brave in the face of bullying, rejection and two-faced friends. Instead of becoming more depressed, he shows his strengths in science class and blows the class away with his talents.

Stronger: Jeff Bauman

Another movie I watched about mental strength was one I saw yesterday starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s called Stronger. (Yes, the holidays involved a bit of indulging in iTunes rentals and cinema tickets!).

Jeff Bauman was standing at the finish line, cheering for his girlfriend in the 2013 Boston Marathon when the bombs went off.  As he was standing right next to the bomber, he lost both legs in the explosion. The film documents his recovery and the incredible strength he needed to have to continue on with his life.

Either one of these films would make for a great high school film study! (In my upcoming TpT store, I’ll have a section on film study lesson plans, so stay tuned!).


Have a lovely and productive Monday!


P.S. The photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one I took in Salou, a small town in Catalonia, Spain

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