Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, More Than Scores, Pep Talk, Quotes to Inspire, Teaching Power, You Are Awesome!!!

The Easy Button for Increasing Classroom Engagement


 

Image Source: www.staples.com
Image Source:
http://www.staples.com

Dear Teacher,

If you have been teaching for any length of time, you know one thing to be true above most others…there are no silver bullets.  There is no “one thing” that will be able to fix all things in your classroom or for your students.  There is not a magic teaching pill that will cause all students to learn, grow, and find success.

No, you no the very real reality that teaching, learning, and education take work.  And I am not going to go against that.  Not one bit.

There is much truth in the fact that you have got to be an active learner yourself and find out best practices and new ideas.  You have to practice those best practices.  You have to know your content.  You have to be creative.  You have to figure out new ways to plan and facilitate learning in your classroom.  You have to keep up with technology and how to use it as a tool to help students learn more effectively.  Speaking of students, you have to do the very challenging and messy work of getting to know them and building rapport and relationships with them.  The same goes with your students’ parents, other teachers and staff, and administration.

Teaching is work.  Difficult work.  Rewarding work, true, but hard work.

Um, so far this post is pretty much the opposite of your title…where is the easy button?

Everything said so far is what we know in our teacher reality.  But…there is one thing that does make all of this a lot easier and will increase student engagement in your class.

Image Source: http://www.authormedia.com/mybooktable-1-3/
Image Source: http://www.authormedia.com/mybooktable-1-3/

That easy button is….wait for it….

Oh no.  Is this one of those times where you give the big build up and the one answer is me?

You guessed it.  The easy button for making some of the hard parts of teaching and to increase engagement is, indeed, YOU!

Just like all of the other times I have set you up for a big secret in education, the key is you.  Something inside of you and about you can unlock the easiness to making tough things seem less tough.  One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Maya Angelou:

If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

There is so very much that we can change about education and what needs to happen in our classroom.  We can’t change the content we are required to teach.  We can’t change the students (not directly, at least).  We can’t change their parents.  We can’t change their home environments.  We can’t change expectations from administration, districts, and the state (again, not directly).  We can’t change what needs to happen for teaching and learning to truly happen in our classroom.

No, there is not very much that we can change in education…but we can change ourselves.

There is a lot of ways that we can change our attitudes as teachers, but I want to just focus on one…above all else, we need to love what we do!

I am not saying that we have to love all of the bureaucracy, paperwork, and struggles with the harsh realities that our students have to deal with…no, I am not sure that anyone should love that.  I am saying that we need to love the fact that we get to teach students and open them up to wonders of the world and the awesomeness of fighting to understand something new and the thrill of the moment when it all clicks.  We also get to have the hope of being a part of changing the lives of our students for the better and helping them realize how learning new things changes possibilities!  That is what we live for.  That is why we teach.

We need to love what we do!

We have to be excited about what we are teaching in our classes.  If you don’t love all of your content, be excited about the way that you are teaching it!  Don’t love how you teach something?  TEACH IT DIFFERENTLY!  You are in control of that.  You have got to find a way to love what you teach and how you teach it!  You have to!  This is what makes students take notice and want to be engaged in the process of learning.

It is our passion and love of the teaching/learning process that draws students in.  That is the key.  That is the easy button.  Our engagement in the process makes them not want to miss out and be a part of whatever has you so excited!

Think about the great teachers you have had or that you know…they were passionate about what they do, weren’t they?  I bet the answer is yes.

Teachers who love and are passionate about teaching breed students who love and are passionate about learning.

Teacher, love what you do!  Let it show.  Make it obvious.  The students will want a sip of what you are drinking, I promise!  They will be engaged!

DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You are awesome.  I bet I was preaching to the choir the whole time, wasn’t I?  You do love what you do.  You aren’t afraid to show it.  Remember to keep that passion for teaching and learning going!  Help students be ignited by your fire and their passion for learning will be contagious to others!  Keep on loving what you do and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Challenge, General Inspiration, Hope For Students, Hope for Teachers, More Than Scores

The Perfect Plan for that One Student


Dear Teacher,

It is early in the year, but if you have been teaching for at least a year I bet you already know something about your class(es).

We all know that there is always “that one student” in your class that, well…you know who I’m talking about.

wpid-storagesdcard0MemesWrite-me-up..jpg.jpg

Have you found him/her yet?  Have you identified that student that is going to make the year more, um, interesting?

I am not saying all of this to mean that there is always going to be a defiant student that you just can’t reach.  I am just admitting the reality that there usually seems to be at least one student (or more than one) whom it will be more off a challenge to connect (and operate class with him/her in the room some days).

I am sure that we have all seen the meme, or some form of it, that tells us something that is probably true about this student.

Image Source: http://www.katiemalinski.com

I guess it may be kind of a cliched thought at this point, but it is nonetheless true.  These students are probably fighting battles that we have no way of knowing.  They are acting out in response to the reality that they know or as a way to gain control of their lives in some way.  I think we all know this and may even know some of the child’s story.

But still…

How in the [choose your own word to go here] are we supposed to teach when that student is “looking for love in all the wrong places” and you have a classroom of other students who aren’t?

What is worse is that sometimes these students learn that if they do this often enough, they are in complete control and this feels good against the chaos backdrop of their lives .  Things that feel good are often repeated.  This repetition causes a different kind of chaos for you and your other students.  Not to mention you have an ongoing problem that makes other teachers and administration question your classroom management skills.

Gee, thanks for reminding me what to look forward to…

Do not fret, I have something for you to try!

Okay, I am going to be honest, this idea is not my own, but I have stumbled upon pieces of it by accident almost every year that I have taught (this year will be number ten).  The basis of it is simple, and I think it is something we all know intrinsically (however, it is so hard to practice sometimes).

The key to working with difficult students is what you do when there is no crisis.

If the only attention that these students get from you is when there is a classroom disruption or some kind of drama and these students are acting out as way to get the attention they crave…one plus one equals two…they are going to show out in your class.  I can say that with as much certainty as I can say that the Sun shines during the day more than at night.  It is not rocket surgery (yes, I know what I did there).

This means that they have to have attention from you unrelated to their behavior.  Oh, and just praising the “good stuff” is not enough.  That is still based on behavior.  If they want attention and are used to getting it for negative things, the negative is easier for them to attain.  If “being good” is a stretch from what is comfortable and they want the attention without working for it, get ready for negative behaviors that disrupt your class.  It may be less often, but it will still happen.

No, you can’t base your connection with them on behavior (but praising the positive is still very, very important).

You have got to build a relationship with these students (and arguably all students) based on them being human people that deserve respect for who they are more than what they’ve done.

Let me be clear, I am not saying that we ignore behavior!  No.  Consequences for negative behaviors and praise for positive is also a needed aspect of humanity that will help children grow into better adults.  Behavior is important!  However, there is something that these students need that they aren’t getting much of…connection with adults based on who they are and not what they do.  This type of attention will help them slowly learn to think through choices and pay attention, eventually, more to their behavior.

Connection in the most important attention that these students need.

All students need this type of attention.  Most students get this type of attention at home, school, or elsewhere.  A lot of times our most difficult students do not.  They need it and don’t know it, and they are not getting it.  They get attention (and control) the only way they know how…and sometimes this is unfortunately at the expense of your class time.

You know the need, so now how about a strategy for trying to meet it?

We have so much on our plates as teachers, how are we going to find time for individual students (that probably drive us up a wall most days)?

Little of the time should come during class time.

We all know those moments in the day we can use.  Elementary teachers can build a minute or two into transition time (have the other students transition while you take a moment to talk to the one student).  Middle School and High School teachers can use hallway transition times (or other times that can be built into class time…like the small transitions in class).  Also, giving these students class jobs go a long way, too, and gives you time to talk.

How do you build the relationships during these little moments?

That is where the strategy I mentioned that is not my idea comes in…

The 2 x 10 Strategy

No, I am not suggesting that you use a large piece of lumber to help the student behave better!  It is a strategy of using little moments with difficult students to help connect with them and give them that connection they need.

The 2 x 10 Strategy is something that was discussed by several teachers in the Encouraging Teachers Facebook group (this group only excepts new members a couple of times of year, but there are other groups like this on Facebook, as well).  It was further explained by Angela Watson through a blog post that I highly recommend that you read for more details and discussion on this.

Simply put, the idea is that you talk to the student for two minutes a day for at least ten consecutive days in a row and let them talk about whatever they want for the whole time (with little input back from you…it is their time).

Too easy to be true?

Maybe…but think about it.  It is likely that these students almost never get this kind of attention and conversation from adult in their lives (or anyone else).  We crave this.  This is why we have friends.  This is why we spend time with family.  This is a part of the reason we need a planning period…to connect with other people.  It makes sense to think that students crave this, too, even if they don’t know it or how to vocalize it….so they get attention they way they know how…and we have already discussed that cycle!

This conversations are a way to cut the attention-seeking behavior short and help you build a lasting connection and rapport with students who may be wrecking class time from time-to-time, and instead they become one of your greatest allies in class.

I say it is worth a shot.

It is early in the year and there probably haven’t been major disruptions from these students yet.  Why not give this strategy a try?  What do you have to lose?  This is your chance to try something different by teaching smaller to help all of your students succeed in your class.  That is what you signed up to do, isn’t?  This is your year to do it better than ever!

Wonka

You really do make a difference and are an amazing teacher!  I do believe that this will be the best year ever for you.  Be awesome…and you are because you can’t help it!  Keep going and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Challenge, More Than Scores

More than Scores Image Round-Up


Dear Teacher,

Can you tell that I have been on a #morethanscore kick?  I just feel like it is an important message to get out right now.  Please join me in spreading the word.  Share the images and message here, or come up with your own.  We have got to spread the word.  Students, teachers, and education are more than scores!

You are so awesome!  Keep spreading the word and keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
Posted in Challenge

#morethanscores


Dear Teacher,

Following up from yesterday’s post and in the midst of all of the news about decisions being made about education on a national level, I think it is time to start a encouragement revolution!  We need to encourage each other and our students to remember that we are more than scores, and we need to encourage the public and the powers-that-be that education is more than scores!  We need to talk up the positive things happening in our classrooms and schools that are not tied to test scores.

That said, I am not sure if the hashtag has been used, but let’s make #morethanscores our battle cry.  We have to remember it is more than numbers.  It is more than what can be counted.  It is the hearts and future of the children that we teach.  It is the future of our country.  It is the future of our world!

(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Please join me in reminding everyone that it is #morethanscores!

You are awesome!  You are amazing!  You are more than scores!  Never stop teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in General Inspiration, Hope for Teachers, Pep Talk, Perseverance

The Pantry List


DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Dear Teacher,

So, you had a rough year last year?  I hear you.  I was there, too.  The word “challenge” barely covers it.  It was quite a mix of difficulties all wrapped up into one not-so-glorious year.

But I survived.

And you survived.

And now that we have settled into summer a bit, it is time to do one last difficult thing related to last year…reflect.

Reflection is the key to growth and change as a teacher…especially after a tough class period, day, quarter, or year.  When we reflect, we take stock of what went right and wrong, what we need to change for the better, and what we can let go of.  The process can be painstaking, but it is therapeutic…and more than that, it is vital to making next year better.

As I was working through my own mental system of reflection today, I thought of a new approach to reflecting, but before I tell you about it, I need to tell you a story from this morning.  I need to tell you about breakfast.

It all starts with muffins…

I do my wife a favor in the mornings when I can and get our boys going.  This includes breakfast.

This morning, I decided to do a secondary favor.  We had some overripe bananas and she talked about making banana bread yesterday.  I had an epiphany…I can make banana muffins for breakfast!  So, I looked up some recipes.

There was a problem, however.

As it seems, you need certain ingredients to make said banana muffins…not all of which were present in our cupboards.  We had most of the staple products, but since today was shopping day some were missing.

You don’t know me that well, but if you did you would know that once I get an idea in my head to do something I do not give up easily.  So, I pushed on.  I know some recipe replacements, and I thought I knew enough to guess some others.

It was rough, but I was able to get something together that resembled batter…and I poured into the muffin tins and baked.

I had to keep adding a few minutes of time in the oven, but eventually they looked a lot like muffins.

I took them out.  I tried one…

Honestly, they were not the worse muffins I have ever had, and if you added butter they were not too bad.  They weren’t the best, but they were my muffins…and they would pass as breakfast.

DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

So…what the heck does this have to do with teaching and reflecting?

Every year, we start of with some pretty high goals for our students and ourselves.  We know that we have the basics that we come in with as teachers, but sometimes the ingredients in our classroom are not what we expected.  We do our best with what we have and we strive towards those goals.

We have to alternate plans.

We have to do things a little different than “the norm.”

We have to compromise.

We have to make do.

But in the end, though our results may not be exactly what we hoped for, we still have results.  Sometimes “kind of” results are okay.  We did what we could with the resources at hand, our skills, and some ingenuity.

They may not be the best results, but they are our results.

As we reflect, we need to look at how everything went and see the positive in what we had at the end.  Sometimes that can be more difficult than others that like to judge education will ever know, but they were not in our classroom and do not know our students.

Sometimes edible muffins are the best you can do with baking…and sometimes students getting through the year know more than when they started and able to learn more on their own than before are giant strides for the situation you are giving.

DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
DearTeacherLT2015 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

And that brings us to the looking forward side of reflection…this is where my new approach to reflection comes in…

You have got to take a good, long look at your “teaching pantry.”  Ask yourself these hard questions and make a PANTRY LIST:

  • What really went well last year that you can go into the new year armed with?
  • What are your strengths as a teacher?
  • What strategies vibe up well with your teaching personality?
  • What is the upside to that teaching personality?
  • How do you connect with students best (both inside and outside of the content)?
  • What are your best improvs as a teacher?

These are the things currently in your pantry.  This is what you bring to the table.  These are what you can bank on being a part of you.

On the other side, you need to ask some harder questions and add these to your PANTRY SHOPPING LIST:

  • What did not go well last year that shows a skill that you may be lacking?
  • What is an aspect of teaching that is a weakness that is vital that you work on?
  • What is something that you would like to learn from a teacher you think is a great teacher?
  • What are ways that you know your classroom atmosphere needs to change?
  • What are some ways that you do not connect well with students?
  • What are your worst improvs as a teacher?

These are the things that you can work on this summer.  DO NOT MAKE THE SHOPPING LIST LONG!  Small steps get you in the right direction.  Do not think of these things as what you are bad at…think of them as things you would like in your teaching pantry.  Spend some time this summer making a “supply run.”  Pick something to read a book about.  Attend a PD session over the summer.  Find a teacher good at one of these things, buy her/him lunch or coffee, and pick their brain.  Make a plan for getting some new ingredients in the cupboard.  And don’t forget to rest!

I hope that this made sense!

What is in your teacher pantry?  What do you need to go shopping for?  Share here and perhaps we can all help you find some resources,

Teacher, you are amazingly awesome!  I bet you already reflect on this level and I am preaching to the choir.  If not, please don’t give up.  Your students and all of the other teachers need you!  You are amazing.  Keep on teaching, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

 

Posted in Challenge, Change the World Challenge, Reason for Teaching

The Speed of Change…One by One


Dear Teacher,

Okay, I found some time to write a post.  I like writing posts more than just doing a picture message like the one I did this morning…though they are fun to do.  I did not think I would find the time to write, but I finally did.  And I found some really cool inspiration that goes right along with my theme this week!  We, you and I, need to change the world.  Teachers can do it.  We need to!

I was reading through some blogs this afternoon, and I came across this message of connecting with students.  It was so perfect.  This teacher’s message went hand-in-hand with my challenge from last Friday.  I gave us all the challenge, myself included here, to change the world by changing our own world, changing students’ worlds, changing other teachers’ worlds, and changing the worlds of those around us, outside of schools.  (How have you been doing with this, by the way?)  The blog post I read today hit one of these nails right on the head.  To change the lives of students we have got to connect with them!

I know what you are thinking…”Duh!  Everyone knows that!”

We do…but do we really?  Really, really?  Really, really, really?

Our actions show what we truly know…or at least believe.

We might know that we need to connect to students, but if someone were to really judge us by our actions would they think that we really and truly believe that it is vital to connect with students?

Take that honest look in the mirror.  What is the answer to that question?  And I am not talking connecting with some students.  I mean trying to have a connection with every student you teach, at least on some teeny, tiny level?

Is that even possible?  To connect with every student?

I think so.  But it is hard work.  You have to be purposeful.  You have to try…every day.  Find a way to connect.  Find a way to build rapport.  Find a way to earn a voice.  Once you have that voice with a student, USE IT!

Talk to your students.  Tell them the truth.  Help them to know what they need to work on.  Tell them how smart they are.  Teach them how to use that smart.  Help them use it.  Help them build confidence until they act like they know they are smart and capable.

Change your students’ world:

  • Connect
  • Build a Bridge
  • Cross that Bridge
  • Change a Mind
  • Change a Life
  • Change the World
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

You can do it.  You can connect with every student.  You can be an agent of change.  You can make a difference that lasts a lifetime.  Know you can do this.  Act on that knowledge.  Start tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this).

Challenge for Today (whenever you read this): Make a purposeful connection with three students today.  You can do it!  Will you?

You are so amazing!  You are so awesome!  Do it…change the world by changing your students’s world.  The speed of change is slow because it is done one person at a time.  Start making those changes now!  You can do it!  Keep on teaching and changing the world, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

Posted in Challenge, General Inspiration, Homework Assignment

Mission (seemingly) Impossible


(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)
(c)DearTeacherLT2013 (You may use the image if you link back to the blog and/or give credit to Dear Teacher/Love Teacher)

Dear Teacher,

Great Friday morning to you!  How are you doing?  Did you survive the week?  Did you thrive this week?  Somewhere in the middle?  Well, it is Friday, and, no matter what, you made it through!

This week I have written to you a lot about the overwhelming-ness of our profession.  I have talked a lot about focusing on what is important and letting some of the non-priorities sit on the back-burner.  Today, I am going to ask you to add something to your load and your “to-do” list.

Seems kind of hypocritical, I know.  Just stay with me.  I think this lines up with what I have been talking about this week.  I hope, at least.

I want to give you an assignment.  It is has four parts to it, but one main goal.  It is going to seem impossible, but I know you can do it.  I want you to change the world.

Yes.  Change the world.  I am pretty sure you can do it.  No.  I know you can do it.

I know you are one person.  I know the world is big.  I know the problems in the world are often looming just on this side of disaster.  I know you are just a tiny cog in the big machine of the entire world.  But you can change things.  I want you to do just that.

Let’s take a little movie break before I give the details of your assignment.  Kevin Spacey playing an awesome movie teacher in Pay It Forward does a much better job of explaining how to change the world than I can, anyway,

If you haven’t seen this movie, get it and watch it.  It is your extra credit assignment.  🙂

The theme of the movie is simple.  One person can truly affect the world and kindness will always win over the negative forces in this world eventually.  I know that it can seem a little idealistic, but I don’t think it is very far fetched at all.  Just like a pebble thrown into a puddle affects the whole puddle, the splash of one person being different than everyone else can cause those around them to change, those who were changed will change others, those people will change others, and so on and so on.

So, I want you to change the world.

“Okay. DearTeacherLoveTeacher, how do you think I am going to change the world?”

I am glad you asked.  It is time for your assignment.  Before you read the assignment though. play this song by the Kid President and then read while it is playing.  It makes a nice theme song for the assignment, AND he is one of the greatest examples of the pay-it-forward-attitude I have ever heard of!  I shared this song last Friday, but it is worth a second share.

Changing the World in Four Easy (slightly impossible) Steps

  1. Change Your World– Make a plan to do one thing to de-stress your school life.  Make a plan to do one thing every week that you can do to change your stress level at school.  It could be taking a break for for five minutes somewhere in the week and just breathing and remembering why you love to teach.  It could be taking one morning coffee break in the week when you are not thinking about school work.  It can be choosing one thing to “let go” each week that is a non-priority.  But this part of the assignment is a plan, and then you have to follow it.
  2. Change Another Teacher’s World– Make a plan to do one encouraging thing for another teacher each week, and it has to be a different teacher each week.  It can be hand-written notes (which is my favorite to do).  It can be to lend a hand in a time of need.  It can be a random act of awesome like bringing something in for a teacher (like chocolate or coffee).  Just do something every week for a teacher.  Try to get to everyone in your school throughout the year.  Just one a week.  You can do that!
  3. Change a Student’s World– Make a plan to do one majorly encouraging thing for one student a week.  Much like the teacher part of the assignment.  Do something like write a note, have a conversation that is not related to grades or content, give them a random piece of candy, something out of the blue.  This is not the normal things we should be doing, this is more over the top and random.  It is surprising how much this can change someone’s outlook.  You can be an over-achiever and do this for more than one student each week, but do at least one.  YOU HAVE TO PLAN TO DO THIS EACH WEEK.  If you don’t plan, it will fall to the wayside,  Jot a note for who and what to do on a sticky note each week or put a coded reminder to do this in your lesson plans.  You have to plan for it though.
  4. Change the World– Do a random act of kindness for someone outside of school.  This has to be big, random, and something that someone won’t forget.  I am talking Pay it Forward big.  Do something that will change how someone is feeling about people and the world.  Something they could not do themselves.  Then ask them to do the same for others.  Kindness will change the world.  It is the only way the world will get better.

After you have had some time to think, come back here and share your plans for 1-3.  Don’t share #4.  That one should be personal.  Don’t share it on the internet.  It is more for you and the person you help than for everyone.  If you talk to much about it, you take away from the kindness factor!  I do want you to share 1-3 so that we can all hold you to your plans.

Oh, and more extra credit…share this post with all of the teachers you know.  Give them this assignment.  Let’s change the world!

So, this is your mission, if you choose to accept it.  What do you think?  Are you going to change the world with me?

You are awesome.  You are changing the world already.  This is just a push to be more intentional in doing so.  I know you can do it!  You are amazing!  Keep on teaching and keep on changing the world, Teacher!

Love, Teacher

PS…If writing notes is a part of your plan to change the world for teachers and students, there are some really fun printable Awesome Notes  that you can write on the back of in the Dear Teacher/Love Teacher Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  They are a big hit with teachers and students at my school.  The students love getting them and teachers love using them.  Just a little plug.  There are 10 notes in the mega pack, and there is a free sample of the notes in the store.  The mega pack is only $2.  They are not necessary for your assignment, just a fun little way to do it.  🙂

Oh, and the Kindness poster/graphic is available as a part of the Motivational ABCs Poster/Word Wall collection in the TpT store, as well.