What's Happening in Character Education?

Every School…Safe, Supportive, Engaging, Inspiring: Peer mentoring promotes positive school climate and appreciation of diversity

Posted by Margo Ross on Thu, Mar 2, 2017 @ 10:03 AM

"The 2016 election has been long and fraught with strong emotions. As a nation, we have much to do to heal the divisiveness that has resulted. As parents, caregivers, and educators, we have a critical responsibility to help children and youth feel safe and secure and learn how to engage with others of differing viewpoints in a peaceful, tolerant, and respectful manner.

As always, schools play a critical role in this process by creating a positive learning environment for all students. It is imperative that educators facilitate respectful discussions among students and safeguard the well-being of those who may feel at risk."

-National Association of School Psychologists, November 9, 2016


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Topics: 11 Principles, Mentoring

Core Values Drive Everything!

Posted by Tamra Nast on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 @ 09:02 AM



Principle 1:  Promotes Core Ethical and Performance Values as the foundation of good character.

“...the core values that underpin sustainable development - interdependence, empathy, equity, personal responsibility and intergenerational justice - are the only foundation upon which any viable vision of a better world can possibly be constructed.” -Jonathon Porritt

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Topics: core values, 11 Principles

Digital Citizenship: Leading Us Into Character Education Version 2.0

Posted by Jason Ohler on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 @ 09:02 AM


Technological innovation moves so quickly that we often don't have time to consider its unintended consequences. A result is that it’s difficult to respond to hot-button character-related issues like cyberbullying and sexting because they seem to appear out of nowhere. Our challenge is to find ways to teach our children how to navigate the ethics of the rapidly moving digital present, consciously, proactively and reflectively. In K-12 parlance, we want them to become wise, skilled and caring digital citizens.


The Evolution of Digital Citizenship

Digital citizenship has evolved over the years. In its original set of K-12 standards for the use of educational technology, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) defined the broad area of ethics and technology as addressing “social, ethical and human issues” – the phrase “digital citizenship” was nowhere to be found. ISTE only became concerned with issues of citizenship when the development of the Internet led to the creation of common virtual space. This led to the formation of communities, which in turn made us want to understand our expectations of each other as community members. Years later, when the ISTE competencies were rewritten, the Internet had become a staple of modern society. At that point, digital citizenship had become one of its primary standards.  

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Topics: 11 Principles, Techology

Five Things You Can Do That Will Make You a Better Educator Right Now

Posted by Phil Brown on Thu, Aug 25, 2016 @ 09:08 AM



By Philip Brown

A recent article (July 20) in the Washington Post by parenting consultant Meghan Leahy entitled Five things you can do that will make you a better parent right now captured my attention because each of her five points are also sound recommendations for educators. I’ve reworked her five points – see if you agree that school culture and teachers lives would be much saner if we kept these in mind and took them to heart:


1. Cultivate a value system in your classroom and school. Of course core ethical and performance values are core aspects of the 11 Principles of Charcter Education, and Character.org has emphasized the importance of including stakeholders in the process of creating core values. Beyond establishing core values as the bedrock for your school culture, the important word here is ‘cultivate.’ As Leahy points out, “Americans don’t have a common parenting culture that has been passed down to us. Our wonderful mix of religions, ethnicities, worldviews and customs means that we are able to create our own parenting and family mores.” This means as well, that, if we are lucky, children bring those diverse values into the school house, and we must send a very clear message in our cultivation that just as families need to have their values to function effectively, so must our classrooms and school. And if there are values conflicts, a discussion with parents early in the school year is important to avoid misunderstandings and support both diversity and the need to adapt to American school culture.

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Topics: school climate, teachers, 11 Principles, Back to School

Infusing Character Into Everyday Teaching & Learning

Posted by Dave Keller on Tue, Jan 19, 2016 @ 08:01 AM

by Dave Keller

Outstanding educators consistently look for ways to infuse character lessons into everyday teaching and learning. When teachers do this consistently, students are far more likely to view character as an integral part of learning and life --- rather than simply another “topic” to learn alongside reading, science, math and many others.

Character.org designed the 11 Principles of Effective Character Education to be a framework and critical reference guide for educators everywhere. No single script exists for effective character education exists, but the 11 Principles serve as guideposts to use to plan and evaluate their programs. 

Within these 11 Principles, Principle 6 represents the glue that connects outstanding classroom learning and fundamental character concepts. Effective character educators model persistence, responsibility, and caring as they differentiate instruction, employ a variety of active teaching and learning strategies, and look for ways that character is potentially developed in and through everyday teaching and learning. 

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Topics: promising practices, 11 Principles, Academics,

6 Key Ingredients for Powerful Service Learning

Posted by Sheril Morgan on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 @ 04:12 AM

 

by Sheril Morgan, Director, Schools of Character

Entitlement.  Webster says the definition of entitlement is the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges). There have been many conversations about younger generations having a sense of entitlement these days. When parents ask their children to do something, it is often attached to a reward for carrying out the task.  Often children are paid for good grades on a report card, and we forget the power of making meaning which is pointed out in Marvin Berkowitz’s latest blog, “My Son is not My Dog.”   

The truth is, we all are inherently selfish, and yet we have an incredible capacity to give of ourselves. The holiday season tends to highlight both sides of humanity, our selfish and selfless tendencies.  Thankfully, what we become is often what is nurtured and this presents an amazing opportunity to educators.  This is the perfect opportunity to empower young people to serve their community!

Many educators cringe at the thought of service learning because there is so much misunderstanding of the term in educational circles. However, it doesn’t have to be a daunting experience, and with creativity and shared leadership, it can have a life of its own.

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Topics: Service learning, 11 Principles

How Principle 1 Changed My High School Experience

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Thu, Dec 3, 2015 @ 09:12 AM

by Rebecca Bauer

During my freshman year of high school, my favorite teacher pulled me aside. She explained that she was assembling a committee to rewrite the school’s character expectations and she was hoping I would help. Having attended the Montclair Kimberley Academy since age 6, I’d been hearing about these expectations for nearly a decade.

Respectful. Responsible. Confident. Friendly. Informed. Temperate. Fair. Honest.

There were a lot of them. And still, I knew them well.

I remember attending that first meeting. There was one representative from each grade, which meant I was only freshman in the room. It was intimidating but exciting. We began by discussing what purpose the character expectations served. Why were we revising them? What were our goals?

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Topics: core values, 11 Principles, Shared Leadership

Character Education—Comprehensive, Intentional and Proactive

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 @ 08:08 AM

By Becky Sipos 

At Liberty Corner Elementary School (NJ), students know the focus is not only on academics, but also on how they are going to leave the school as a person. That focus apparently is working. Comments from the middle school say that “the Liberty Corner School kids are the most well-rounded, best kids in the building.” Eric Rauschenberger, Liberty Corner guidance counselor, said, “The greatest compliment we get year after year is about the kind of kids we are sending. It makes us feel validated that what we’re doing is sticking.” Kindergarten teacher, Trisha Bubnowski, said, “We’ve gelled as a school community so that when you go out in public and see Liberty Corner School kids, you hear people say character education is what sets us apart.”

How does Liberty Corner achieve these results? A big part of their success is due to principle 3 (of Character.org’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education): “The school uses a comprehensive, intentional, and proactive approach to character development.” They really work to include character development in everything they do.

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Topics: character education, 11 Principles

Character Education Goes to Camp

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 @ 12:06 PM

by Rebecca Bauer

As an educational non-profit, we spend most of our time talking about schools, but as summer begins, I want to acknowledge that crucial character development often happens not only outside of the classroom but also outside of the school year.

In my household, camp was always spoken about as a Matt Smith spoke to in his recent blog post, a magical place. My parents met at camp. They returned there to be counselors a few years after. They sent my older brother to that same camp, where he later became a counselor too. When I turned 10, it was my turn.

While some parents might be horrified at the thought of sending their child away for 7 weeks, my parents trusted in the camp and knew it was a safe and caring community. Thinking about this, I realized that the 11 Principles of Character Education seamlessly apply to camp settings. Any principle can be adapted for the camp setting, but for me Principles 2, 4, and 7 stick out when it comes to character growth in my own camp experiences.

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Topics: 11 Principles

The Magic of Camp

Posted by Matthew Smith on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 @ 09:06 AM

by Matthew Smith

“Notes on Camp” is one of my favorites episodes of the NPR show This American Life. That’s probably not surprising since I run a leadership camp for teens. Host Ira Glass explains the purpose of the program:

Today on our program, we try to bridge the gap between camp people and non-camp people. We try to understand: What is the cult-like, mystical connection some people feel with their summer camps?

He asks David, a popular camp counselor, a sophomore in college, and a former camper to explain:

“Camp … it’s just … it’s #1 with everything I do I guess. That’s like … camp is just … it’s … it’s kind of ridiculous but it’s, like, everything. It … it changes people’s lives. Like …  people base their life around camp. Like … I would not be who I am if it wasn’t for camp.”

Apparently, camp can be tough to explain.  Sometimes, people compare it to magic. But Scott Brody, veteran camp owner thinks “It is time to retire ‘the magic of camp.’”

Scott has been traveling the country for the past few years, driving home this message. “Calling it ‘magic’ devalues the importance of creating an intentional experience for children, and alienates parents who have never experienced camp.”

Ok; but then what is it? While there are all sorts of camps focusing on various fun activities and skills, what makes them special are the relationships and skills that campers acquire. They learn social emotional skills and character development.

Camp is social and emotional learning (SEL) and character development.

Put simply, SEL means developing interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. Character adds performance and ethical values to the mix. Things like perseverance and integrity.

This. Is. Camp.

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Topics: character education, 11 Principles, Camp