Stories of Kindness from Around the World

An Unforgettable Classroom Exercise


--by freeHUGSrock, posted Nov 15, 2015
One day, a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.  It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday she gave each student his or her list.

Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much," were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. The teacher never found out if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student.  She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded: "Yes." Then he said: "Mark talked about you a lot."

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were also there, wanting to speak with his teacher.

"We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.

"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."

All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."  Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary"

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said.  Without batting an eyelash, she continued, "I think we all saved our lists."

Tears rolled down the eyes of the humble teacher.  We encounter so many people in our lives, and it's a precious joy to see the good in all those journeys.
 
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Readers Comments

tom wrote: This was a very touching story!
samira zeghdar wrote: I'm samira from algeria our supervisor shared the story yesterday really we need to devote all our time in appreciating the best things of surrounded people, friends,collegues,family members. This story whether fictious or real it draws an inspiration to those teachers who want to create a wonderful relation between them and their students ,and we can say here that the teaching process is accomplished
J. Cunningham wrote: My son's fifth grade teacher, patsy simiril, had an interesting project in her classroom. Whenever a student had a birthday, she had all the other students write a letter to the birthday child, telling what they like about them. She then assembled the letters in a bound book, then presented it to the celebrant.


My son is fifteen now, and i still catch sight of him reading it. As i read it now, it is amazing how perceptive these young children were, and how true their assumations are of the person my son truly is today.


I'm so grateful to mrs. Simiril for this book. It's a real heirloom we will have forever.


J . Cunningham
Joyce wrote: It's no longer a fairytale when others have made it real. We did this as adults when our company "merged" and many loved co-workers were displaced. I still carry my list and it reminds me about the others who i was humbled and nonored to work with.
Marcia wrote: I've done this with special needs kiddos. Each got a full sheet of approximately 24 blank name stickers. Positive remarks were written about each student, and then stuck onto the individuals back. When the exercise was completed, each child had the positive comments of his entire grade on his back. The child then selected someone to read them, as each statement was read, the sticker was removed and re-secured onto a poster for that child to take home.
Hannah wrote: I've done this a few times with year 4 children (8/0 yr olds) and laminated it at the end of a year as a moving up pressie. They love it. Don't know if they keep it or not, but i'd like to think they did.
SEL wrote: I am an english teacher (and i also teach leadership and art) and over the years i have used this exercise with 7th and 9th grade english classes. I do hear back often that my students still have their lists and they are important to them. This makes my heart glad.
stacie wrote: Katie. Such cynicism. Teachers do use this in their classrooms and the positive reinforcement it brings can have lasting effects. Even if this started out as a "fairy tale", the author was an inspiration to many.
katie wrote: Did. Not. Happen. - this is a fairy tale.
ed-hardy wrote: Thanks for your sharing.

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