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Smagorinsky: Teacher stresses value of kindness, mindfulness

Kristen B. Morales

April 23, 2015

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In the most recent Get Schooled blog on AJC.com, language and literacy education professor Peter Smagorinsky explains how third-grade teacher Cameron Brooks understands that third-graders need play, joy and calm in order to learn, especially during test season.

In the essay, which highlights great teachers from around the state, Smagorinsky writes about Cameron Brooks' teaching methods both in and outside the classroom. The Chase Street Elementary School teacher brings a sense of mindfulness to his classroom, encouraging students to calmly reflect on the descriptions of, for example, a raisin — noting how it feels between their fingers,and then again as they chew on it. It's an exercise that evokes meditation practices along with being a stress reliever.

Smagorinsky writes, "As he tells his kids, 'Kindness comes in all shapes and sizes. Helping a turtle across a busy street, sharing a simple "Hello," or giving directions to a new student makes life a little better.' He then builds this value into his instruction: 'I challenge the class to 100 acts of kindness. When you do something kind, compose a personal narrative, then place it in the Box of Kindness. Once revised and edited, post it here for the world to see.' Kindness then is not simply a virtue, but a means through which his students generate materials for narrative writing."

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