Elementary Students Emphasize the Power of Kindness

Kindness is in the air at Matthew Paterson Elementary School as a “Be Kind” initiative, and focus on what it means to be kind, is underway throughout the building. The hot commodity this month: a pink Panda Power ticket. Everyone wants one, and everyone knows how they can get one… or two… or three!

Student holds a pink Panda Power ticket

Students earn a Panda Power ticket whenever a staff member notices them completing a positive gesture relating to one of the school’s four guiding principles: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Safe & Be Kind.

“Be Kind is such an important part of our culture here at Matthew Paterson,” said Catherine DeGloria, a second-grade teacher and member of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) team in the building. “We have done a lot with kindness in the building, so we wanted to make sure it was part of our four BEs.”

Each year, February launches the first month of a larger campaign to highlight each of the four BEs. This initiative is embraced and supported by the entire school community – students, teachers and the building staff – which is important for its success.

Be Kind was chosen this month to coincide with Valentine’s Day. This means that kindness will be emphasized throughout the building every day, from the lessons in classrooms to the morning announcements.

“We really emphasize, and encourage our staff to emphasize, noticing acts of kindness by students, specifically during the month,” said Karen Wrobel, school psychologist and a PBIS coach.

While Panda Power tickets are ordinarily white, this month they are pink to tie into the Be Kind theme.

“We change the color of the tickets for these months, which you would not think is such a big deal,” said Wrobel. “But, in elementary school, it is a big deal. It keeps the kids enthusiastic!”

For every Panda Power ticket earned, the student is entered into a raffle for a variety of prizes and an opportunity to have their name announced to the whole school. Sometimes there are even friendly competitions between classes or grades to see who can get the most Panda Power tickets.

“Positive behavior intervention says that if you want to see a behavior keep occurring, you have to pay attention to it,” said Wrobel. “We are always mindful to say to the students that if they received a ticket, they should pat themselves on the back!”

For the staff, the emphasize is on proactively celebrating the positive behaviors.

“The tickets are not just for the students, but for staff, too. It keeps us expecting the positive behavior,” said Wrobel. “Sometimes if students are always doing the right thing, it can be very easy to just focus on those who need more support. If we are always acknowledging, noticing and recognizing, it helps us attend to it.”

“It’s all about the feeling that the child gets when someone notices a good behavior!” said Wrobel.

Over the next four months, the school community will highlight each of the four BEs, ending with an overall reflection, schoolwide, in June. For the reflection, each grade, Kindergarten through Grade 3, will focus on one of the four BEs, and the Grade 4 students will present “What Panda Power Means to Me.” It is a celebration of all that they have learned during their time spent at MPES.