Kindness is one of our core values at One World International School. We have several initiatives to instil this trait in our students. One of these is our Kindness Council, consisting of representatives from our secondary classes. For our younger students in Primary school, we provide them an opportunity to serve as a Kindness Leader. Students in Grade 5 are encouraged to apply for the role of a Kindness Leader. Kindness Leaders set a positive example for younger students by modelling respect for themselves and others.
Becoming a Kindness Leader at OWIS
We select Kindness Leaders at the beginning of the school year. Interested students write a letter to our Primary School Senior Coordinator explaining why they want to serve. If their applications are successful, their next step is to complete an interview to make sure they’re a good fit for the role. For the interviews, students meet in small groups and answer questions such as, “What does kindness mean to you?” and “What are some kind actions you would do to create a positive environment at school?”
Once they’re selected, our Kindness Leaders undergo training focusing on conflict resolution, relationship building and ways to promote kindness, positivity and collaboration in the playground. During an Early Childhood and Primary School Assembly, our new Kindness Leaders are officially “sworn in.” They take a kindness pledge and explain their philosophy of kindness and how they plan to put it into action within our school community.
This year, because of COVID-19 protocols, the assembly looked a little different, but the same vibrant spirit prevailed. Students wore masks and had to be presented individually with their distinctive Kindness Leader hats so we could maintain safe social distancing.
Cultivating Kindness in Our School Community
Our Kindness Leaders (KLs) start showing responsibility early by taking charge of an EC/Primary Assembly on kindness. Their responsibilities include assisting teachers in the playground once a week for 30 minutes and they are tasked with remembering their assigned shifts. Working with our Early Childhood and younger primary students, KLs ensure that children are playing responsibly and that everyone is included in playground games. They initiate playground activities and look for ways to help fellow students at school. Additionally, they put their conflict resolution skills to work, solving small problems before they need to be brought to a teacher’s attention.
Our older primary students are highly enthusiastic about serving as Kindness Leaders. As soon as they are promoted to Grade 5, they want to know how they can become a Kindness Leader and what’s involved in the selection process. Serving as a Kindness Leader not only promotes kindness but also encourages students to be more responsible, principled and caring. After all, kindness truly becomes a habit when students can regularly put it into practice.
Impacting the Whole School Community
Fostering kindness and caring has a ripple effect throughout our school community. When KLs model caring behaviour, it inspires our younger students to do the same — in some cases, by becoming Kindness Leaders themselves when they’re old enough. Parents, too, are highly supportive of our kindness initiatives. Parents of our Kindness Leaders permit their children to be excused from class for thirty minutes per week to go on playground duty. They also report that they see positive changes in their children when they take on this important role.
At OWIS, the Kindness Leadership programme allows students to take proactive steps to promote kindness as early as primary school. We hope that our emphasis on caring is something our students will carry with them for the rest of their lives, empowering them to become compassionate leaders who spread kindness to create a more tolerant world.
We welcome your feedback and would like to invite you to reach out to us if you have any comments on this post. You can also connect with us on social media. To learn more about how we promote kindness at OWIS, visit us for a school tour.
Please note: All the images in this blog were taken in pre-Covid times.
(This blog was originally written in collaboration with Ms Andrea Tsoi, former Primary School Teacher, OWIS Nanyang.)