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Changing School Climate Together at Linden Avenue Middle School

New monthly advisory periods at Linden Avenue Middle School focus on the pressing social emotional needs of students. These periods provide time for students and teachers to discuss important issues, such as the harmful effects of rumors, the importance of gratitude, and understanding that perceptions of other people are often misleading.

February’s theme was “Kindness.” Students watched two videos, one created by their classmate Zariyat A., and one entitled “The Importance of Kindness.” Students then participated in discussions and activities to help encourage kindness toward others and to acknowledge that being kind can sometimes take extra effort.

Students discussed ways to be kinder. Examples included helping someone who has dropped something or tripped, speaking up when someone needs materials in class, saying nice things to people, and not laughing when something bad or embarrassing happens. In another activity students wrote one kind thing on a piece of paper taped on their classmates’ backs. When they were done, each student had a paper with twenty nice things their classmates had written about them. “Even though they are anonymous,” explained sixth grade student Winter H., “when we got them back it made everyone feel good.”

The advisory periods, have received a positive reception from the students. “They have had a big impact,” said 8th grade class president, James B. “Throughout the day, if students see something rude or mean happening they are more aware and I think students are taking the next step.”

Sixth grader Anila S. said that one thing she learned from “The Importance of Kindness” video was that kindness boomerangs. “When you do something nice to someone, someone does something nice to you,” she said. “It goes full circle.”

Students say the program raises awareness and helps people understand that what they say and do has a big effect on others. “A person who makes an unkind comment might not think it matters,” said seventh grade student Zariyat. “But the person it was made to may remember it forever.”

Each month the advisory periods offer an opportunity for students to express their feelings and make suggestions to improve the school climate. The periods also gives students a chance to develop a better appreciation for their peers.

“We are hoping this program creates a space for students to feel innately valuable and to know that their kindness will make a difference in their community,” explained Principal Katie Zahedi.