Wildcat Nation's 3 Keys to Building a Climate of Kindness

John Norlin · October 25, 2017

COMMUNITY directly correlates with Climate! Communities are a group of people who share an interest, action or place.  In a school community, we have the unique opportunity to share all three.

By rebranding ourselves as “Wildcat Nation” we’ve been able to focus on a shared belief and action that everyone at EMS wants to have a safe, kind school.  And this isn’t exactly a leap of faith!  Isn’t a safe, kind world what we all strive for?  At EMS, the phrase “Wildcat Nation” conjures up an image of the ideal school we’re all shooting for! 

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Schools that build a climate of kindness are INTENTIONAL with their effort, decisions, and actions.  At EMS, we plan and implement certain over-the-top projects which reinforce our Wildcat Nation mentality.  For instance, we’ve taken “The Golden Broom” and magnified it!  The golden broom is a way of demonstrating Service to those who Serve Us.  Essentially, we overwhelm someone with love! But at EMS, we make it a public demonstration.  Students who witness intentional acts of kindness are both moved emotionally and toward future acts of kindness.  Pay it forward, right! Also, by teasing upcoming Golden Broom surprises and/or other special projects over social media we build intentional anticipation of future positivity for students.  Students get excited over who, what, when the next kindness celebration will happen.  You can bet that when the Golden Broom or some other surprise pops up at EMS, students have their phones ready to snap pictures/videos to capture this magical moment.  Plus, they want to be involved with the next crazy over-the-top act of kindness that’s in the works….

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A Climate of Kindness IS NOT created on an Anti-Bullying day or a Friday Advisory lesson.  Why do mix-it-up days or random acts of kindness weeks fall flat or fail to sustain over time? Simple. If it’s not part of everything you do, then it’s seen as being contrived or phony!  Kindness is created by focusing SCHOOL-WIDE EVERY DAY on our meaningful theme: “What will You Do for Others Today?” This question needs to be asked of adults and students on a daily basis.  At EMS, this school-wide question shows up in staff meetings, on posters/banners, in science lessons, over e-mail, announcements , and on social media.  We have “Thank-You” boards, “Character Strong Sightings”, and a google classroom designed to highlight awesome moments at EMS!  We demonstrate our theme by welcoming and high-fiving students/parents each morning at both school entrances.  Staff wear CharacterStrong or Make Kindness Normal t-shirts every week and nominate students each month who have demonstrated one of the CharacterStrong words of the month.  And guess what those students receive? A cool certificate, peer recognition, and a kindness t-shirt which provides continued advertisement of our School-Wide Intentional Wildcat Nation Community focusing on: KINDNESS!

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John Norlin

John Norlin is a Co-Founder of CharacterStrong, a Servant Leadership trainer, and motivational speaker. He was Washington Advisor of the Year, taught 5 leadership classes per semester for 10 years at Sumner High School, and was a Program Administrator for the Whole Child for five years.