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Tattling Troubles: Fostering Kindness in the Classroom

Do you have tattling troubles? No matter how many ways I have tried to cut down on tattling it always seems to creep back into my classroom.  This year is no different.  I have decided to take a different approach this week and focus on KINDNESS.  Kindness is the key!

Let me give you a little background before I begin. 
(All names and situations have been changed of course) 
On Monday the very first thing I heard in line was from Johnny was "Mrs. Langley.....Sally......"  I stopped him right there.  We weren't even in the classroom yet.  I didn't want to start my week with a tattle so I stopped him and asked him to wait until we got into the classroom.  Phew....crisis averted....maybe he'll forget.....

We walk through the door of the classroom and he yelled, "Mrs. Langley!.....Sally....."   
No way.....not ready for it yet.  
We unpack, we get settled, I collect notes, I hear about lost teeth, I get 12 students ready to leave for a field trip, I take attendance.....all the while this child is breaking in with, "MRS. LANGLEY....SALLY..."  I made him wait.  
Not. Going. To. Hear. It.Yet......(insert me drinking coffee here)

OK....it's time.  I call Johnny over and Sally too because I'm pretty sure I need to tell her to stop cutting in line or something and I need to get the whole story.  Sally cut in line (was I surprised?) and he told her she needed to go to the back.  Instead of obeying him (still not surprised) she called him fat and cut in line anyway.  In shock I look at Sally and asked HER what happened because I like to hear both sides first.  She said she got out of line to get her backpack and he wouldn't let her back in and called her stupid.  She then proceeded to tell me, "I am sensitive...that's why I called him fat back".  

I took a couple of deep breaths because this was REALLY not how I wanted to start my Monday. Why can't they just be nice to each other?  When someone wants to get in line why can't they just let them?  If someone needs help why don't they just help instead of calling each other names and then tattling on each other???????  

Because they are 5.  That's why. 

So deep breaths are over and we did our regular routine of how we can fix this situation.  We talked it out and apologized.  We always use the "I am sorry for (the thing they did)" and "Next time I will (what they will do next time)" outline for making a heartfelt apology. Johnny said he was sorry for calling her stupid and for not letting her in line and next time he will just let her" (That's exactly how he said it!) and Sally apologized for being sensitive and said next time she would think about his feelings. 

This is what started my thinking about KINDNESS in the classroom.  I teach kindness, good manners, and respect all year long.  Why isn't it working? 

Well first off....it is.  I had to remember that I have 43 other kinders and none of them were tattling this morning.  They actually were all working quite nicely while I spent 10 minutes talking with these two so it is working.  I still came home and made a list of the books I want to read in the next few weeks to discuss kindness.  
Elmer by David McKee Elmer the elephant, a colorful character because of his patchwork hide and sense of humor, tries to blend in with the herd but soon realizes he's happiest just being himself.  I like to use this book to teach to teach caring, kindness, and empathy. 

Unique Monique by Maria Rousaki Monique is all about being different and transforms herself in this book wearing clothes from her mother's old trunk. It's a great one to teach about being an individual and finding that thing that makes you unique.  

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig This story shows how small acts of kindness can make someone feel included.  

The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill This classroom classic is a great one to read when you are dealing with bullying. I also really love to read Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell around the same time.  Molly Lou is my hero! 

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes This book is a great one to talk about feelings.  Everytime the kids make fun of her name Chrysanthemum "wilts". I love the play on words, but more importantly I love how it teaches people to think about others feelings.  

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson This character learns how to get rid of an enemy and figures out a lot about friendship in the process. Great to teach caring and kindness. 

That's what's in my tool box to teach about kindness.  What are your favorite books to help promote a caring community in your classroom?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!  

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