This month I had the opportunity to participate in one of my favorite activities as a school psychologist: working with my fifth grade student leaders to turn-key important school wide messages to our younger students. Specifically, fifth grade students partnered with me to teach “ways to achieve happiness” to fourth grade students.

The three elements we focused on were 1) bucket filling, 2) developing a positive and growth mindset, and 3) engaging in activities that make us happy.

1. Bucket Filling – First, we discussed bucket filling, a concept originated by Carol McCloud. We discussed the importance of being a community of “bucket fillers” and not “bucket dippers.” The fifth graders demonstrated for the fourth graders, how you can use your own lid for your own protection by not overreacting. You can also use your lid to protect others, when someone tries to dip into another person’s bucket.

2. Positive Mindset and Growth Mindset – The fifth graders also led a discussion about how you can’t always change a situation, but you can always change your thinking about it in a positive way. Furthermore, we discussed growth mindset, a concept developed by Dr. Carol Dweck. Specifically, the students learned that their brain can “grow.” They learned that when they work hard and challenge themselves, their brains get stronger and smarter. They learned to see the word F.A.I.L as a “first attempt in learning,” and that mistakes can be their friends.

3. Activities that Lead to True Happiness – Lastly, the fourth graders participated in an activity that spread joy and smiles throughout our building. The students were asked to pick one adult from our school and to let that person know how he/she positively touched their lives. For example, the students wrote notes to their teachers, the lady who makes them sandwiches, bus drivers, and the principal (people who don’t always get to hear positive feedback from students). It was rewarding for me to hand deliver these notes to the recipients and to see the students’ notes hanging proudly in the recipients’ rooms.

Being part of this work made me feel proud of working at Harrison. Even writing this article brought a smile to my face. We should all take a moment to let the people who have touched our lives know how important they are for us. Let’s maintain this chain of good feelings even after Valentine’s Day has passed by filling someone’s bucket today and every day.

Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Best, Caren Baruch-Feldman