As a staff, we believe in practicing what you preach, and as such we often reflect on our own core values. When we drill down to the root of it, many of us come to find that it was indeed our family who instilled the values we've come to know, love and live by. Below, you'll find stories from some of the Character.org team and how our families influenced our character.Read More
What's Happening in Character?
The 2012 Presidential election coincided with my very first year of teaching. My students often came into my classroom asking if I watched the debates or if I’d seen the latest attack advertisement on President Obama or Governor Romney. Of course they’d always follow up asking which candidate I was voting for and what party I supported. As a new teacher, this all felt so overwhelming. I knew it was critical to teach my students about civics, but how?
If you are a new teacher or a veteran, this election cycle might feel overwhelming. The seemingly 24/7 media coverage of the candidates and the issues is not going unnoticed by your students. It is our responsibility as educators to engage our students in thoughtful civic conversation, but without allowing our own opinions to influence our conversations. I’ve collected a list of resources you can use in your classroom to teach about civics and the democratic process in an educational, bipartisan and thought-provoking way.
Back in college I never had the opportunity to study abroad. My strict soccer schedule paired with a strategically planned academic course load never lent itself to the novelty of traveling and living in another country for a semester, let alone a year. As my friends shipped off for England and Spain, I envied their photographs, travels and adventures. My friends were riding camels through the deserts of Morocco as I was writing my papers in the January permafrost of Kansas. I thought studying abroad was just to provide the student with opportunities to explore and adventure, but I learned this summer that it offers so much more than that.
Last March I was accepted to a program through George Washington University to travel to Germany. The International Education Program offered me the chance to conduct authentic research in education through an intensive 12-day case study. I was able to interview college professors, teachers, members of government and private/public sector employees. Everyone we met was filled with knowledge on higher education, educational opportunities in Germany, and much more.
In this class, I was one of the only students who had not studied abroad during undergrad and who had never been to Europe. I sat back and listened to my classmates as they questioned German officials on their study abroad program and involvement in Erasmus+. I quickly realized that Germany views study abroad differently than I previously did. They don’t see study abroad as just a chance for the individual to explore and adventure. To them, it is a much richer opportunity than that.
I now understand why Germany chooses to invest and send a large percentage of students abroad to study. Germany uses the study abroad platform to encourage students to continue to build relationships. In return, they bring in students from all over the world to attend German institutions for free. If these students don’t stay and work in Germany after graduation, their economy actually loses money.Read More
By Maggie Taylor
A little over a year ago I left my role as educator and started the grueling and rewarding process of graduate studies. As a student earning a Masters in Education Policy in the heart of Washington, D.C., I shouldn’t have been surprised to be engrossed in K-12 policies and politics in almost every lecture. I was not prepared to take courses entitled “Congressional Budget Making” or “Lobbying for Funding”—but here I am, a year in, and I have learned more than I imagined. As I reflect on my first year as a scholar, I can’t help but think how this knowledge would have changed the way I viewed things as a teacher.
As a former classroom teacher, it was easy for me to bury my head in the sand and ride out every new policy that came down the pipe at the start of each school year. My local, state or national government would create policies or programs that would inevitably trickle down to my classroom. As these things trickled down, I often heard educators say, “This too will pass,” and heard myself echoing these sentiments as I learned this process firsthand. I passively allowed decisions to be made at the local, state and national level and didn’t think my opinion was worth sharing.
What I didn’t realize, however, was how much I could have done to change these policies, and how my voice should have been raised a little louder to be heard. This blog comes to you—educators, administrators, parents, concerned community members—to read into what is happening in Congress now and how we can all work together to make changes that suit the needs of our students.Read More