Kids don’t need to be taught to display anger, hurt, frustration. They do that with automaticity. If you spend any amount of time with a baby, you’ll hear the difference between ‘angry cry’, ‘I’m hungry cry’, and ‘pick me up now or you’re in trouble cry’! 🙂 Children have to be TAUGHT character. Kids with good character are no accident. They are that way because the stakeholders in their success contributed to TEACHING them to be that way. Teachers can play a great role in developing character.
I submit to you that EVERY classroom teacher should be capitalizing on the opportunity to instill character in their students. One of the ways that we do that is by recalibrating them. 🙂
Let me explain.
Students come in from different home environments that expose them to all kinds of different value perspectives. As teachers, we play a role in that with students for the year that we have them. They will leave us, knowingly or unknowingly with our traits and manners. They will go to the next grade level with a mix of values that we either encouraged or allowed. We should give considerable thought to the type of child we are helping to raise in our classrooms, and how we can best support their character development. Let’s talk about 10 things that have worked for me over the years, that I think could be replicated in any room.
This one I learned early on was important. I have a quirky, flip sense of humor. I say tons of un-edited things every day. Most of my students would describe me as funny. Because of my personality, over the years, I’ve had to learn how to edit myself a bit. It’s been good for the kids, and for me too! 🙂
Be intentional about your discussions on character. Express that certain people in the story are demonstrating good character and why you feel that way.
Use words like integrity, compassion, and values with your learners. Discuss what those qualities look like to you, and then lead them to talk about where they are seeing examples of that in the lives of other people in their lives.
Kids are not naturally empathetic. Take opportunities to model for them what empathy looks like. You can do this with role playing activities, or even with daily events. Show authentic care and compassion for adults in your presence and your students will start to demonstrate that in the classroom.
When I let students lead in the classroom, I get a true picture of the type of leader I’ve been with them. It’s been a great point of reflection to learn more about my own leadership by watching it play out with my learners. Some years, I was happy with how I was modeling character…and other years, I learned that I had to adjust things because I wasn’t as pleased with what I was seeing when I allowed them to lead.
Give specific verbal praise to students exemplifying good character. Tell them that it made you happy to see them sharing without being told. When you get a good report from the substitute, tell them it makes you so proud that you can leave them in the care of another and trust that they will behave the exact same way!
Telling the truth is HARD. Students need to learn that even though they might get in trouble, it’s better to do what is right. Modeling this behavior early and often in your classroom is key. Celebrate students who make the choice to do right immediately.
Share with the students decisions you made for ‘the greater good’. Model thinking about the reason behind the decisions that you make in the classroom. They will amaze you with their ability to be introspective on their own decisions!
Kids NEVER learn character when they are lectured. Ever. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
Create opportunities to compete against other classes on your grade level so that you can teach your kids the importance of cheering hard for your team, but then being gracious in both victory and defeat. The better YOU handle losing…the better your kids will! 🙂
|Four sets of quality character ed materials.|
If you need some quality character ed lessons to help your kids in this area, you might be interested in some that I have created for my littles. My Good Citizen lessons are great for Back to School…or even right after Christmas break to reset priorities with regard to behavior. The Good friend unit helps kids to work on conflict resolution. There’s TONS of role playing opportunities so kids get a chance to see the correct behavior modeled. My thankfulness lessons were created for the season, but can be used at any time during the year that you need to work developing an attitude of gratitude. I will be teaching my kids about sharing this January. I am excited to work with them on what this quality looks like practically.
Join me on the journey!