Special to The Source
Each year in September, the sixth-grade students at Jacksonville Middle School take part in a very special day called “Pay It Forward Day.” This is a wonderful opportunity for the students to practice their social and emotional skills such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making and relationship skills.
The focus of Pay It Forward is on the empathy aspect of social awareness, but this day contains so much more.
Each of the sixth graders have the opportunity to reflect on their own emotions and values during this day. With a positive mindset and putting their great values to use, they are zoning in on their own self-awareness.
Pay It Forward Day is structured differently than a normal school day. Students begin their day in a whole grade activity and divide out for different sessions and a culminating movie activity at the end of the day. This new structure, listening to new people, working together on hands-on activities leads our students to also zoning in on their self-management skills. Having to regulate behavior, control impulses, manage the stress of a different day and persevere through new challenges are key to this amazing day!
Paying it forward, in general, is a way that all people can do kind things for others — what a great opportunity for our sixth graders to focus on their social awareness. Each of the daily activities allows for students to reflect upon feeling and empathizing for others. The camaraderie of this day is apparent whether it is between staff to staff, students to students, or staff to students and vice versa.
Positive relationships, practicing clear communication and cooperating are all fostered through the small group times while the students think of others. Zoning in on these relationship skills is another bonus of this day of kindness. Students and staff having fun together for a positive cause — kindness and support of others.
Every student participating in this day has the opportunity to give — to pay it forward. Students learn to make positive choices in what they do and how they act to support people inside and outside of our school. The values and ethics they show makes this day so lovely. Plus, they can feel the positive consequences of their actions in their hearts. They are zoning in on their responsible decision-making skills that we hope will last a lifetime.
There is no question that the idea of “paying it forward” is all about kindness. The obvious piece of this day is the empathizing pointed out in social awareness. However, as one looks back at all of the details of the day, one can see that other ways of practicing and opportunity for kindness is almost a bit hidden. The highlighted additional forms of kindness in listening, working together, cooperating, relationship skills, support people, are all being practiced on this special day.
Pay it Forward Day
• Speaker on empathy – having social awareness.
• Yoga – Allowing students to learn a new way of being kind to themselves and having self-awareness
• Creating Origami to share with the National Guard soldiers – All skills in this session cover social-emotional learning and kindness.
• Reading Buddies/Kindness Chain – Students buddy up with elementary students to read and create a paper chain with examples of kindness.
• Banner for Nursing Home Residents – Students use their artistic skills and creating a banner to be displayed at a local nursing home.
• Compliment Cards – Students surprise others with kind words as they write messages on cards and slip them in lockers and put them secretly on desks.
• Culminating Movie – A fun way to end the day, students think about and perhaps feel proud of what they have accomplished as they watch characters in the movie show kindness and empathy.