When I was a teacher, at the start of each school year I couldn’t wait to try out all the classroom management tips I’d picked up over the summer, convinced that now I had in my pocket the latest techniques that would make my classroom a warm and safe place to learn.
I knew that one of the keys to a caring classroom was encouraging students to demonstrate kind, helpful—or “prosocial”—behavior toward each other. Researchers have found that students who show this kind of behavior: 1) achieve greater academic success, 2) have more friends, and 3) develop better relationships with teachers.
Sometimes my new techniques succeeded; lots of times they didn’t. But as I’ve learned more about the science of prosocial behavior, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it might be a lot easier to encourage kindness among students than I thought.