What's Happening in Character?
This afternoon the National Forum on Character Education was celebrated the 20 public schools, 3 private schools, 1 charter school, and 1 school district who became National Schools of Character this year. In a May press release, Lara Maupin stated that “These schools have built strong communities that bring people together around shared goals. Nobody feels alone or unwelcome in these schools. Adults are all on the same page about what’s important and, as a result, kids thrive.”
In Marvin Berkowitz’s Hot Topic discussion this afternoon, he didn’t hesitate to cut right to the point. “We need to make schools less like prisons,” he said. “When you think about it, it’s disconcerting how much the analogy fits. How can we create more enlightened and just schools?” Marvin’s talk focused on utilizing empowerment and democracy to accomplish this.
Topics: CEPLeaders, key lessons, character, character education, CEP2012, cheating, student voice, core values, what works in education, CEPForum10, character education in high school, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum
- Ellisville Elementary School in Ellisville, MO: using character traits in ballroom dancing (CEP VP gave the delegate from Ellisville a quick preview of his ballroom skills)
- Comsewogue High school in Port Jefferson Station, NY: SUSS (Students United for Safe Schools) students focus interventions on bullying to change the social norm. The Comseqogue delegation included seven current students!
- Babler Elementary School in Glencoe, MO : Their "A Leader in Me" program helps students identify one of their strengths that they can encourage in others.
- Cranford High school in Cranford, NJ: Blankets of Love - students band together to make fun, colorful blankets for kids with cancer.
- Green Pines Elementary School in Greenwood, MO: Gators Earn, Learn, and Give Back - Students raised money via a book drive and garage sale to make money for the local food bank.
- Jefferson Elementary Elementary in Greensboro, NC. Delivers character traits via a recurring puppet show program during their daily show.
On Saturday morning, conference attendees participated in a session on the fundamental - though rarely practiced - keys to success using social media. Here are a few takeaways from the session:
Family members of two iconic American civil rights leaders joined the CEP2012 attendees Friday to address the connection between character and taking important public action. Anthony Chavez, the grandson of Cesar Chavez, and Karen Korematsu, the daughter of Fred Korematsu, shared personal stories, inspiring visions, and core values from their experiences with these two leaders.
We love ideas -- new, creative, and powerful ways to effectively integrate character education into the lives of students who need it. This afternoon, we were treated to a peak into the world of this year's amazing crop of Promising Practices recipients! Check out an amazing and passionate group of students from Comsewogue High School in New York involved in a program called Students United for Safe Schools:
When keynote presenter Paul Tough became a dad, he never thought he would be using parenting techniques he learned from rats. Tough delivered a compelling keynote address at the 2012 National Forum during the afternoon session. "Parents and other caregivers who are able to form close, nurturing relationships with their children can foster resilience in them that protects them from many of the worst effects of a harsh early environment." Amazingly, we see strong evidence of this in the behavior of lab rats. The effect of good parenting is not just emotional or physiological. Neuroscientists say it is biochemical.
Internationally recognized expert and author Michele Borba gave attendees a tour-de-force of the critical components of effective bullying prevention. Most people don’t realize what an issue bullying is in the United States, but a few statistics make it clear that we have an epidemic. Today, 1 in 3 US students are bullied. Rates are similarly high and rising internationally, where 1 in 5 students is bullied. The problem is so bad that the US National School Safety Center has stated that bullying is “the most enduring and underrated problem in American schools.”
When Sara leaves her house each day, she know she has loving teachers waiting. Every day that 8-year-old Sara goes to school, educators at Plattin Primary in Festus, Missouri make sure she encounters a culture of character. Plattin students start each day off with a curbside greeting from their principle and PE teacher. Once inside the building, students continue to be welcomed by loving staff as well their teachers who meet each student at the entrance to their classrooms.
Scott Taylor gave an outstanding keynote address this morning, using a mix of humor, entertainment, and experiences to share the importance of building strong relationships and maintaining positivity in schools. Principal Taylor shared stories from his own experience, and it’s clear that Principal Taylor practices what he preaches. Every day, he roams the halls of his school to spread positivity, and goes out of his way to let students know he cares. He checks in to every class, every day. He humorously wears 100 ties on the 100th day of class. And on Fridays, “Mr. T” raps about character. “I tell you what,” he said, after sharing an illustrative rap with this mornings audience, “you can teach a lot about character when you talk fast and rap!.”
We just wrapped up an outstanding first day at the 2012 the National Forum on Character Education - #cep2012. The day was filled with lots of excitement and energy.
Dealing with a difficult child is one of those necessary tasks in education and parenting that we would all choose to forgo if given the opportunity. The fact remains that dealing with these kids provides an excellent opportunity to shape and mold a student’s character.
"Every person wants their kids to be good human beings. Depending on the culture, the details get fuzzy. And how those details fits into the national education system is a big issue as well."