By Terri Wu
A hyperactive second grader is famous at his school. By leaving his seat and talking a lot, he distracted other students and dragged entire lessons into chaos.
Adel Mansilla, his Spanish teacher, remembered often having to take a deep breath before teaching his class.
She had looked for a solution for a while. Little did she expect that kindness was the answer.
She was inspired. “Right away, I thought of shifting my teaching from disciplining bad behaviors to positive reinforcement with kind acts,” she told The Epoch Times.
She found a multilingual lotus fairy tale on the platform and showed it to her students. The story is about staying kind amid temptations while finding one’s own path. Later, she brought each of her classes a big origami lotus flower as a symbol of kindness.
“It’s all about kindness and patience. So if you don’t have enough kindness or patience with your classmates or your teacher, you could get some power from the flower.” She told the students that she would give out listening stars, not to individual students but to the entire class.
Within a week, the boy changed. Even when he occasionally fell back to his old habits, he would run back to his seat upon realizing that his behavior might cost his class a star. Ms. Mansilla was glad to see that all the classes she taught in different grades entered a voluntary competition for stars. She said only the high school students asked what they would get in return, but they, too, gradually focused on the satisfaction of kindness and patience.
Soon, the boy’s changes caught the attention of other teachers, who were curious about what had happened. Ms. Mansilla told them about the kindness campaign. Then, leadership decided to run the campaign schoolwide at the pre-K to 12 private academy in Wellesley, a city about 20 miles west of Boston.
Students wrote articles—short sentences for younger children—about kindness.
Earlier this month, the students’ “Kindness Essays” video won a “Kindness Smile Award.” The school announced the news on its Instagram page: “We are thrilled to announce that our students are among the winners in the prestigious Kindness Is Cool Video Awards! This global event inspired acts of kindness worldwide, drawing in over 10,000 entries from every part of the planet.”
Gan Jing World launches its #KindnessIsCool Video Awards event, starting on Sept. 1 and running through Dec. 31, 2023, spreading the word of kindness to 500 million people. (Courtesy of Gan Jing World)
The “Kindness Is Cool” campaign was one of the ways to use the Gan Jing Campus tool kit offered by the platform. A highlight feature is the unique social media content curator called “hashtag aggregator.” It pulls together all content on the platform—long-form videos, short videos, articles and blogs, posts, and images—and presents it in a grid view, all on one page.
Ms. Mansilla used the feature to collect all kindness-related content for her students. She described the experience as “direct sharing of your knowledge with others.”
To her, conventional platforms such as Google Classroom, often called learning management systems, tend to take learning linearly: one-way lecturing and assigning homework. She was surprised that students needed help locating information in those systems. In addition, parents found the platforms confusing, too; they asked her to email materials to them.
However, she said that Gan Jing Campus takes an approach that’s not much different from how students learn outside classrooms; the social media learning style also helps engage students who find concentrating increasingly difficult.
“It reminds me of the natural exchange before money. People would exchange tomatoes and apples. It’s very honest and very direct. One would do a good job with apples because one wants to get good tomatoes.”
“I feel like Gan Jing Campus is going to when there was this natural exchange of goods. Now people could exchange knowledge and really share it, plus in a clean way,” she added. “Gan Jing is the first platform where I’m not afraid to show my students around; I don’t have to worry about inappropriate content popping up in related videos.”
Ms. Mansilla left the academy in December to homeschool her two children. They named the home school after the children’s initials: “A&D School of Kindness.” She said she would continue sharing with and learning from other teachers on Gan Jing. She has kept her channel and wants to be an influencer.
“The influencer name has gotten a new meaning on Gan Jing. Now you understand influencers are the ones who can influence the world positively. The point is to spread the good things, and Gan Jing ensures the good things get to everyone that is supposed to.”
Gan Jing offers free premium channels to teachers with the hashtag aggregator included. For any donations supporting this free offering to teachers, the company will match it, doubling the impact.