What's Happening in Character?

The Classroom as a Caring Community

Posted by Hal Urban on Tue, Feb 6, 2018 @ 12:02 PM

by Hal Urban

    I was a social studies teacher in a public high school for 36 years. I loved every minute of it! Well, at least almost every minute. In all honesty, my teaching career started out wonderfully, and got better each year.  I’m convinced that the key was good relationships. I was taught on my first day of graduate school in education that, “If you can reach ‘em, you can teach ‘em.” Starting with my student teaching, I put a lot energy into reaching my students, of making that all-important personal connection with them. 

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Topics: character education, teachers

Encouraging Good Character on the First Day: 3 ways to prepare your classroom for excellence

Posted by Calvary Diggs on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 @ 09:08 AM

Character education rests on a simple principle: actions matter. In our day-to-day lives, acts of good character can ben
efit the self and others. Agreeing on that should be easy. What’s next is more difficult. How can we, as education professionals, help schools improve as environments that nurture character development?

If you haven’t recently read How Children Succeed, perused any stellar Promising Practices or reflected on your own experiences as a student, here’s a succinct summary: there are many ways to teach good character. And there’s no specific formula to doing it – at least not yet (fingers crossed and wishing on a star here, folks).

Lucky for those of you starting on that old agrarian calendar system, the staff at Character.org and I figured we could give you some useful tips. If you’re familiar with research in classroom management, that’s where the bulk of this originates. Classroom management (i.e., class structure, time allocation, and instructional practices) is an area where teachers often report wanting additional training. Improvements in classroom management practices are associated with positive impacts for student prosocial behavior (character in action) and academic outcomes. So, let’s get started!

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Topics: Back to School, promising practices, character education

Professional Development at The National Forum on Character Education

Posted by Jess Gawrych on Thu, May 26, 2016 @ 09:05 AM

How do we build caring and productive communities?

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Topics: character education, Professional Development, community

Maintaining the Connection Between Moral and Performance Character

Posted by David Wangaard on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 @ 14:12 PM

by David B. Wangaard, Ed.D., The School for Ethical Education

Character.org has many resources that provide a clear definition of character education and effective practices. It is not unusual, however, to find varying interpretations by educators. Specifically, the distinction between moral and performance character has created a division within the field of character education. Some educators have chosen to focus singularly on performance character such as perseverance, creativity and positive attitude with the goal to market to parents these attributes as uniquely supporting student success. While those values may be well received by parents and the public, it is important to consider why we should include moral values and sustain the connection between moral and performance character.

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Topics: character education, moral character, core values

Using Advisory Effectively: A Case Study

Posted by Sarah Novick on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 @ 08:08 AM

By Sarah Novick

Advisory can be a great vehicle to implement character education. 

I recently had the privilege of getting to know students, teachers, teacher-advisors, and administrators involved with revamping an advisory program at San Francisco University High School (SFUHS).

For about 20 years SFUHS had an advisory period in its schedule. When I got to know the school a few years ago, students described advisory “a chill out time,” “a time to eat really good snack,” and a place where they could “hang out with friends.” While this non-academic break during a busy Friday after a stressful week is useful, especially for high achieving, stressed-out students at a rigorous high school, administrators wanted to create the infrastructure to better support students’ character, social, and emotional development. In this post I want to take this opportunity to share some of my insights into their successes as they revised their program. 

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Topics: character education, Relationship Building, Caring Community, Advisory

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

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

Not Divergent: Easily Measuring Students’ Character

Posted by Mark Liston on Tue, May 26, 2015 @ 12:05 PM

“So what makes you such a big deal?” asked Garen, the blunt 8th grader. I’m not exactly a rock star. I was speaking at his school about my tool that measures character strengths: the Character Growth Index (CGI).  I found Garen’s question entertaining.  “I developed CGI to see if you are ‘DIVERGENT’!”  His eyes bugged as he replied, “Scary but cool!”

Divergent is a best-selling book series among teens and now a movie with a sequel.  In a post-apocalyptic world (what else?), teens are tested for their greatest talent and must choose one of five groups to be in for the rest of their lives.  If they don’t qualify in the group they choose, they are either cast out or killed. Yes, kind of scary but a cool movie.

Character Growth Index isn’t really like the aptitude test in the movie.  What makes it attractive to educators is that, according to Drs. Marvin Berkowitz and Tom Lickona, CGI is, “…to our knowledge, the only valid, reliable test of character virtues for middle and high school students.”

Educators know that talent enables achievement but character sustains success, defines an individual’s reputation, and is a primary indicator of happiness and flourishing. Knowing our students’ character strength levels will provide a reliable indicator of their future success and well-being (Lippman, Moore, & McIntosh, 2011).  Better yet, if our students’ character strengths can be identified and measured over time, we have data to prove our character instruction is working… as we do in our academic instruction.

The character education movement is over 20 years old yet has never developed a character test.  Seems strange, doesn’t it? If you have ever tried to measure character, you will learn quickly WHY this is true:  Measuring character is really tricky!

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Topics: character education, assessment and character education

Connecting Character and Content

Posted by Gary Smit on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 @ 11:04 AM

by Gary Smit

Finding time for building character in schools and in students within the context of the academic curriculum can be a challenge. Since school is the first social structure the child encounters, the setting provides an excellent opportunity for character building. However, this must be more than a poster on the wall, a favorite maxim to share or selection of a monthly student of character.

Richard Jones has said, “It is primarily the teacher’s responsibility to engage the students, as opposed to the teacher expecting students to come to class naturally and automatically engaged.”  With this understanding, character building requires a proactive approach through planned learning experiences and activities within the classroom. By being part of a school-wide initiative, we realize that character and values should be weaved through every aspect of school life, including the academic curriculum, co-curricular activities, staff modeling, and all human relationships.

How then can character traits and values be taught within the context of the school curriculum? I have come to understand that there are four ways for the classroom teacher to directly instill values in students, regardless of the students' ages.

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, Curriculum Integration

Why We Don't Have the Smartest Kids (or Best Schools) in the World

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Thu, Apr 23, 2015 @ 08:04 AM

by Rebecca Bauer

When I began reading The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley, I had no idea that a book could be so inspiring and depressing at the same time.

After discovering America’s average scores on the international PISA tests, Ripley started to wonder what factors contributed to a country’s success. Why did certain countries outperform others?

She knew examining the data alone would only take her so far, so in search of answers, she followed the stories of 3 American students as they spent a year in countries known for their high quality education systems, South Korea, Finland and Poland. Ripley supplements their stories with research and weaves in connections to previous education reforms in America. What is so empowering and alarming about this book, is Ripley really offers answers to the tough questions and promising solutions.

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Topics: character education, international education, Academics,

Teacher Leadership: Opportunities for your own Moral Action

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 @ 15:03 PM

As teachers think about the 11 Principles, it can be easy to focus solely on the students. Helping students to become smart and good citizens is the ultimate goal of character education, but helping teachers become smart and good citizens is an essential part of the process.

What you do as a teacher matters even more than what you say. Serving as a good role model for moral action and citizenship will inspire your students to do the same. In February, Becky wrote a piece on teachers voicing their opinions on ESEA Reform and the importance of contacting your local representatives, but there are many other ways that you can get involved.

From leading a service learning initiative to coaching a sports team, there are daily opportunities to participate in cultivating moral action in our youth. Sometimes, standing up for a cause or initiative you believe in can be the most meaningful way to take action. I had a teacher who taught an entire lesson silently, in honor of our Gay-Straight Alliance’s participation in the Day of Silence. A number of my high school teachers and college professors were actively engaged in Ferguson protests. Students remember the instances where teachers take a stand. Now Character.org has a cause that we think you might be passionate enough about to take a stand.

Dr. Edwin Powell, a professor at Howard University has created a petition to establish a Character Development and Citizenship Education Council in Washington, D.C. and he needs your help. I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Powell to learn more about this important initiative.

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Topics: character education, Advocacy

Starting Your Character Education Journey

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 @ 12:02 PM

By Becky Sipos

For me, the New Year always brings an attitude of fresh start along with a reflection on accomplishments or disappointments of the past year. Pick up any magazine and you can see the imperatives: Lose 10 pounds in two weeks, plan more nutritious meals, get fit in only 15-minutes a day and so on.  

For schools, the imperatives usually revolve around better classroom management, helping low-achieving students to be more successful, getting all faculty onboard with positive school goals, or meeting state and federal testing requirements.

The trouble with most New Year’s resolutions is that the adopters are often looking for a quick fix. Unfortunately, neither losing weight nor transforming school culture is a quick fix, but both are worthy goals.

For educators looking to change their school culture, Character.org’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education offers guidelines for an effective program. But teachers sometimes think they are designed to be a step-by-step recipe beginning with #1 and progressing through step #11. But really, you can start with any principle. If you are looking to jump start your character education journey this year, here are four suggestions for ways to get started now.

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Topics: character education, 11 Principles

Resource Roundup: Creating Caring & Kind Classrooms

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 @ 15:02 PM

We want every classroom to be a caring and kind one. Unfortunately, with the emphasis on literacy and math, encouraging good character isn’t always seen as a priority. We want to re-energize you in your pursuit to help every child develop empathy and consideration for others. We’ve listed some of the best resources for creating a caring classroom environment. If you have more ideas, please share them with us in the comments.

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Topics: character education, Caring Community, Character Resource Roundup

The Classroom as a Caring Community

Posted by Hal Urban on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 @ 09:02 AM

By Hal Urban

I was a social studies teacher in a public high school for 36 years. I loved every minute of it! Well, at least almost every minute. In all honesty, my teaching career started out wonderfully, and got better each year.  I’m convinced that the key was good relationships. I was taught on my first day of graduate school in education that, “If you can reach ‘em, you can teach ‘em.” Starting with my student teaching, I  put a lot energy into reaching my students, of making that all-important personal connection with them.

My #1 goal at the beginning of each school year was to create a Caring Community in each of my five classes. The reason was simple, and really nothing more than common sense. If the teacher has a relationship of mutual respect with his students, and the students have a relationship of mutual respect with each other, a lot more teaching and learning will go on. And there will be very few behavior disruptions.

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Topics: character education, Caring Community, Urban Hal

Annie Fox Addresses Bullying Issues in "Whose Kids Are These Anyway"

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 @ 14:01 PM

When it comes to bullying prevention, teachers handle concerns from parents, demands from administrators and regulations from their local and federal governments, all while educating a group of 20 or so young students. Rather than simply providing them resources and telling them to solve the problem, it is important to also stress, they are not alone.

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Topics: character education, teachers, bullying, bullying advice, Fox Annie

Proactive Approaches to Bullying Prevention: Two Schools Share Their Success

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 @ 11:01 AM

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bullying Prevention  goes hand in hand with honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who stood up for what he believed in, even when that was a very difficult thing to do. Martin Luther King Jr. serves as an exemplar for students who are striving to become allies to their bullied peers, rather than mere bystanders. In honor of Martin Luther King Day, here are two examples  of schools who have done an amazing job empowering their students to stand up for and care for one another.

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Topics: character education, cyberbullying, bullying, compassion

Starting Your Character Education Journey

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Jan 14, 2015 @ 11:01 AM

 

By Becky Sipos

For me, the New Year always brings an attitude of fresh start along with a reflection on accomplishments or disappointments of the past year. Pick up any magazine and you can see the imperatives: Lose 10 pounds in two weeks, plan more nutritious meals, get fit in only 15-minutes a day and so on.  

For schools, the imperatives usually revolve around better classroom management, helping low-achieving students to be more successful, getting all faculty onboard with positive school goals, or meeting state and federal testing requirements.

The trouble with most New Year’s resolutions is that the adopters are often looking for a quick fix. Unfortunately, neither losing weight nor transforming school culture is a quick fix, but both are worthy goals.

For educators looking to change their school culture, Character.org’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education offers guidelines for an effective program. But teachers sometimes think they are designed to be a step-by-step recipe beginning with #1 and progressing through step #11. But really, you can start with any principle. If you are looking to jump start your character education journey this year, here are four suggestions for ways to get started now.

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Topics: character education, school climate, leadership, what works in education, teacher development

Ferguson—How do you teach when hearts are hurting?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 @ 16:11 PM

While the world is watching Ferguson, disturbed by the violence, disturbed by the grand jury’s ruling, disturbed by the very disparate responses that all seem to be colored by race, I was brought back to my teaching roots and empathized with all of the classroom teachers struggling with how to deal with this issue.

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Topics: character, character education, teachers, Ferguson

Integrating Character Across Subjects

Posted by Maricarmen Esper on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 @ 09:10 AM

“Beyond Accountability, Inspiring Greatness,” the theme of the CEP's 2014 National Forum on Character Education. As human beings, we all have sufferings: some of them are physical; some emotional; some are moral issues; and some are health problems. But no matter what our circumstances are, we can bring out our character and be as great of a person as Mr. Wrights is in this video titled “Inspiring Greatness.” 

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Topics: character, character education, core values, virtues

Can Educators Actually Assess a Student’s Character?

Posted by Peter Greer on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 @ 15:09 PM

 

From my work as a superintendent, a headmaster and as the the U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Education, I found that assessing our students’ character was overlooked much of the time. Yet, there are such strong reasons to assess students’ character in a more formal way, such as establishing consistent standards, students having knowledge of progress, teachers having knowledge of effect. The most important reason, though, is that the formation of good character plays a major role in each student’s destiny.

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Topics: character, character education, Forum Speakers

How Are Social-Emotional Learning and the Common Core Connected?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Jan 17, 2014 @ 10:01 AM

By Maurice Elias, Professor, Rutgers University Psychology Department

In September, 2013, the Education Advisory Council of the Character Education Partnership published a white paper titled, "Integrating Common Core and Character Education: Why It Is Essential and How It Can Be Done." Kristin Fink and Karen Geller, acclaimed educators both, co-chaired the process and I asked them to comment on some of the key points:

Maurice Elias: In your view, what is the major shortcoming of the Common Core standards as they are presently being put forward?

Karen Fink: The standards do not explicitly address the quality of the learning environment or the culture of respect, responsibility, and excellence that must be in place for optimal student learning. Every student needs to feel that the school has a deep commitment to preserving his or her safety, worth and dignity. The school community must have as a standard genuine, caring relationships between and among students, teachers, parents, and staff. The standards also lack a specific focus on teaching moral and performance character, and the social-emotional skills that help students develop the stamina and self-discipline to grapple with more rigorous curriculum to truly become college, career, and civic ready.

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Topics: character education, common core standards, social-emotional learning, Elias Maurice

AN HONOR AND A PRIVILEGE

Posted by Mark Hyatt on Fri, Jan 10, 2014 @ 08:01 AM

Dear CEP Friends,

My many thanks to all of you. Yes, it is gratitude that overwhelms me this week as I step down as CEP President and CEO.
 
I accepted this position two years ago with the blessing of CEP founder Sandy McDonnell, who sadly passed away less than 80 days after I took office. Every minute since has been an honor and a privilege for me here to carry on Sandy's torch and to devote myself to advancing his defining life mission for this organization: to provide the vision, leadership and resources for schools, families and communities to develop ethical citizens committed to building a more just and caring world.
 

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Topics: character education, president's post, Hyatt Mark

What is Character Education?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 @ 12:12 PM

Fourth in a series by student teacher Rebecca Bauer who graduated from a National School of Character and wants to make sure that as a teacher she includes character education.

After completing my student teaching, I find myself asking the question that I probably should have started with. What is Character Education and what does it mean to have a Character Education program? Some of the confusion about character education seems to be due to the presence of many different names for the same practices. I have encountered many professors who have never heard of character education but strongly encourage teaching with “a culture of care,” without understanding the enormous overlap. I have met teachers who implement the Responsive Classroom approach, without knowing that in the process, they, too, are incorporating some of the elements of character education. Schools can always teach more character education and there is always more work to be done, but one way to convince people that character education is worth teaching, is by showing them they are already teaching it.

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Topics: character education, student teaching, Bauer Rebecca

We Truly Are All in this Character Effort Together

Posted by Mark Hyatt on Tue, Dec 17, 2013 @ 15:12 PM

Earlier this month, I was honored to speak, facilitate, and moderate several sessions at the Global Peace Foundation’s third annual International Summit on Character & Creativity in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There, I shared an abbreviated version of our 11 Principles training, put in the context of transforming school social climate and culture, adapted to fit the customs of a given nation.

In attendance were hundreds of teachers, student teachers, administrators, policymakers and scholars from around the world. It was truly a mountaintop experience for me, just rubbing shoulders with such a diverse and accomplished group of people who share our passion for helping young people to become caring, ethical citizens. Why are ethics so important to all of us?

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Topics: character, character education, international education, peace, creativity

Time for Character Education

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Nov 25, 2013 @ 10:11 AM

Third in a series by student teacher Rebecca Bauer. She graduated from a National School of Character and wants to make sure that as a teacher she includes character education, but she is finding it challenging.

Even at an elementary school as great as the one that I was working at, I still felt the need to “sneak in” character education. The classroom environment encouraged respect and responsibility, but another part of the character education equation, critical thought and discussion, was missing.  Despite believing deeply in the importance of character education, I felt uncomfortable making time to devote entire lessons to it, especially in a classroom that I was only borrowing for a couple months. While I have read and will continue to read ways to incorporate character education into the common core standards requirements, as a student teacher trying to get by, my survival strategy turned into simply sprinkling in character education wherever I could.

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, teachable moments, student teaching, Bauer Rebecca

A Call to All Social-Emotional Learning Leaders

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Nov 18, 2013 @ 08:11 AM

By Maurice Elias,Professor, Rutgers University Psychology Department and Edutopia Blogger

It's time for the leaders of the social-emotional learning (SEL) and character education fields to jump in the sandbox together and create a set of common guidelines for implementation in schools.  This is a variation of the "Manhattan Project" called for years ago by Tim Shriver, a founder of CASEL.

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Topics: character education, leadership, social-emotional learning, Elias Maurice

School Safety Summit Recap Part 2

Posted by Rob McManamy on Mon, Nov 11, 2013 @ 14:11 PM

School Safety Summit a weighty, timely success: Impresses importance of crisis management plans
Part 2 of a blog reporting on CEP’s 2013 National School Safety Summit on October 24th. The summit included presentations and discussions which largely fell into two broad categories: preventing violence with improved school climate and engagement, and crisis management responses to active situations of violence. See part 1 on school climate and stakeholder engagement

Meeting in the wake of yet another school shooting—this one in Sparks, NV—speakers and attendees at CEP’s first-ever ‘School Safety Summit’ Oct. 24 in Washington, D.C., rallied around the ideas of  greater student engagement, wider community involvement and more robust support from the federal government.

“We are gathered here today with school violence again in the news,” noted John Barry, former superintendent of Aurora (CO) Public Schools. “From the 12-year-old who shot a teacher in Nevada to the 14-year-old who stabbed a teacher in Massachusetts this week, we are reminded that unfortunately, all of our jobs now must include training in crisis management.”

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Topics: character education, school shooting, school safety, school shootings

School Safety Summit Recap: Part 1

Posted by Rob McManamy on Fri, Nov 8, 2013 @ 07:11 AM

Part 1 of a blog reporting on CEP’s 2013 National School Safety Summit on Oct. 24. The summit included presentations and discussions which largely fell into two broad categories: preventing violence with improved school climate and engagement, and crisis management responses to active situations of violence. Look for the second part on crisis management and active shooter situations in coming days.

School safety promoted by engaging students, parents and promoting dialogue

Meeting in the wake of yet another school shooting—this one in Sparks, NV—speakers and attendees at CEP’s first-ever School Safety Summit Oct. 24 in Washington, D.C., rallied around the ideas of  greater student engagement, wider community involvement and more robust support from the federal government.

Dr. Michele Borba, the first speaker at the summit, said school safety is not only about preparing for a crisis—it’s about creating a safe school climate where bullying is reduced and students trust faculty and staff. Since most school shooters tell someone (usually a peer) before the event, creating trusting relationships with adults and mechanisms for students to anonymously report threats can make huge strides in preventing a tragedy.

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Topics: character education, school climate, school safety, Borba Michele, school shootings

Can Cyber-citizenship Tame the Digital ‘Wild West’?

Posted by Mark Hyatt on Tue, Oct 29, 2013 @ 10:10 AM

The sudden emergence of a plethora of cyber issues that literally defines K–12 policy toward technology integration has created a dire need for ethical clarity and behavioral policy. The digital age beckons us to usher in a new era of character education, aimed directly at addressing the opportunities and challenges of living a digital lifestyle.
                                                                                         Jason Ohler, author
                                                                                         Digital Community, Digital Citizen

Amazingly, those timely words were written more than two years ago. But many parents, educators and other stakeholders—including some social networking sites—have been much too slow to dive into the rushing cyber currents already tossing youngsters to and fro online. So now, as another school year chugs toward the holidays and social media from coast to coast gears up for yet another tsunami of teenage emotions, unfiltered comments and inappropriate pictures, I hope more of us are ready to engage in our children’s digital lives.

In other words, even adults who feel woefully behind the e-curve now are coming to the grudging realization that they can’t bury their heads in the sand forever. And they cannot deny that they have an important role to play in guiding young people through what some have called “the Wild West” of the internet. And just as that bygone era of American history was known for its frontier justice before law and order could migrate from the East, today’s digital free-for-all is notoriously short of enough monitors to protect it from its own worst impulses.

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Topics: character education, cyberbullying, president's post, Hyatt Mark

Rules and Incentives

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Oct 28, 2013 @ 08:10 AM

Second in a series by Rebecca Bauer, a graduate of a School of Character, who is now chronicling her student teacher experience.

Like most classrooms, we spent a good deal of time the first week discussing rules. We brainstormed a list together. The lead teacher wrote up a consolidated version and then every student signed it. We asked each student to choose the rule they thought was most important and to write a sentence about why it was important. One student did not finish in time and took his work out with him to complete it during recess. The boy decided that the most important rule was to listen.

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Topics: character education, student teaching, intrinsic motivation, PBIS

Literature as a Path to Good Character and Better Decisions

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 @ 04:10 AM

By Stephen Ellenwood

Good literature can help us understand both a range of nuances regarding key virtues such as kindness, persistence, or honesty and the complexities of how to answer questions that require, for example, both kindness and honesty. This approach is based in part on Jessamyn West’s wise counsel, “Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.”

Good stories with believable characters and situations help students understand the fine points of both language and character. These stories also focus on how students create and become a member of a caring community. 

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Topics: character education, what works in education, character education in curriculum, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, social responsibility

A Virtues-Based Community: More than just a Dream

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Oct 7, 2013 @ 07:10 AM

By Dr. Raquel Castrodad
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” – William Arthur Ward

The quote from what is a brilliant ad slogan, “Just Do it!,” should be the guiding light and starting point of this voyage towards achieving a virtues-based community. It was for us. We are just a rural school in the middle of a little island, but we had big dreams (and now have even bigger dreams). Stephen Butler Leacock may have said it best when he said, “It may be that those who do most, dream most.”

The attainment of a virtues-based community requires a vision, a plan, the will, and the courage to act. The vision begins. As the possibilities are explored, the vision expands. The journey has begun. It truly is as simple as that! “Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.” said James Allen.

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Topics: character, character education, National School of Character, character education in curriculum, National Forum, community of character, school climate, CEPForum13, virtues

Adventures in Student Teaching: My First Day at School (Take One & Two)

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Oct 3, 2013 @ 08:10 AM

First in a series--how a new student teacher tries to implement character education based on her experience attending a National School of Character before entering college.

With nervous energy and excitement, I arrived at the elementary school where I planned to begin my student teaching. It was superintendent’s conference day, and I was taking the opportunity to get a lay of the land. I walked into the second grade classroom and I could not find it. The heart of an elementary school classroom, it was missing. There wasn’t a carpet or a rug, or even a patch of open floor where the students could congregate around an easel or board. There were only desks. They were laid out in a U shape, with two rows in the center. I couldn’t imagine an effective way to facilitate discussion in this set up. Perhaps I was overly critical, after my professor had assigned us to read McKenna’s “Uncovering the Lessons of Classroom Furniture,” but I couldn’t shake the feeling that building a sense of community in this business-like room would be quite difficult.

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Topics: character, character education, student voice, teachers, school climate, student teaching

The OCHO Project: Read for a Need--Teaching Children to Help Others

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, Sep 29, 2013 @ 19:09 PM

By Marilyn Perlyn

The OCHO Project: Read for a Need(Opportunities for Children to Help Others) exposes children to the joys of reading while teaching them that they can help others less fortunate than themselves. It is an elementary school program in which students embark on a 6-8 week literacy journey that is infused with eighteen character traits and service learning.

Children are asked several months later if they would like to share a book with another child in a different part of the world. Each year, donated books are brought to a different country by Marilyn Perlyn, founder of the OCHO Project. Books have already been donated to kids in need in Tanzania, India, Vietnam, Laos, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, and Namibia. In 2014 we will visit China!

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Topics: character education, key lessons, what works in education, Service learning, character education in curriculum, National Forum, international education, CEPForum13, Perlyn Maryilyn

Taking Your School from Good to Great

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Sep 24, 2013 @ 09:09 AM

Character education is often misunderstood. It is more than a word of the month or an assembly to honor students with good character. It exceeds catching students being good and helping those who are less fortunate. Character education is not a program, but a philosophy about how we ought to treat one another and why. 

The fundamental lessons in relationship building and character development need to begin with the staff, not the students. Once relationships among the staff are nourished, trust evolves and true understanding and implementation of character education can begin. 

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Topics: character, character education, National School of Character, what works in education, teachers, community of character, CEPForum13

Character Is Our Super Power

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, Sep 22, 2013 @ 14:09 PM

 by Barbara Gruener

Is anyone out there as excited about the upcoming CEP National Forum as I am? One of my very favorite things about October is the chance to connect with other character educators from around the US and beyond its borders. It’s been an annual booster shot for me since I first attended when the Conference was held in Houston back in 2004.

Our school, Westwood Elementary, was selected the inaugural Texas State School of Character in 2007 and then honored with the National School of Character distinction in 2009. What an invigorating time that was for our school family. But we didn’t stay atop that mountain for long. Shortly after our celebration, budget cuts meant we’d be merging with the 4th and 5th grade campus next door; we are now navigating a new normal as a preK-5 school family.

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Topics: character, character education, National School of Character, character education in curriculum, National Forum, empathy, social-emotional learning

Powerful Analogies From Nature that Build Character

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 @ 14:09 PM

by Barbara A. Lewis

Do you want to know something so strong that it survived the atomic explosion on Hiroshima? Might you guess a 400-pound gorilla that can hoist up 10 times its body weight?

Or how about Iron Man or the Hulk (not fair—they’re not real)?  Or what about the annoying cockroach?  Well, you would be right about the cockroach (which gives you a clue as to why they’re so hard to expel from your house). 

But you might not have considered bamboo. Surprise! Bamboo has more tensile strength than steel.  Knowing this, you might choose to build your next home with bamboo, because it could withstand 9.0 magnitude earthquake and last for hundreds of years. (You might want a new house before then though.)

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Topics: key lessons, character, character education, character education in curriculum, National Forum, CEPForum13, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, empathy

Using Assessment for Sustainability and Impact in Character Education

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 6, 2013 @ 12:09 PM

By Matt Davidson


I have been an advocate for and practitioner of assessment in the field of character education for nearly 20 years. Much has changed in education over that time period. In particular, the importance of using data to guide practice has grown significantly. In the field of character education much of the early practice in the field was primarily driven by intuition and conviction—that is, by a general belief in the importance of positive character values, strong school culture, and a safe and engaging climate. Intuition and conviction aren’t in and of themselves wrong or misguided. However, the science of character and culture has evolved considerably and best practice in the field is now guided by both the art and science education.

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, assessment, assessment and character education

Creating Safe Spaces that Nurture Learning

Posted by Mark Hyatt on Sat, Aug 31, 2013 @ 12:08 PM

When it comes to flourishing in school nowadays, scientific evidence is mounting that confirms what many of us have suspected all along—that if we want children to truly learn, and to perform better in life as both students and citizens, then we have to educate them in an environment that they see as safe, caring and nurturing. In short, school social climate matters, so social and emotional learning (SEL), combined with character education, just may be the magical combination that makes academic growth possible.

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Topics: character, CEPLeaders, character education, Character Education News, school safety, Hyatt Mark, social-emotional learning, Elias Maurice

The Content of Our Character

Posted by Mark Hyatt on Mon, Aug 12, 2013 @ 21:08 PM

By Mark Hyatt
President & CEO

This Aug. 28 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech—or as we like to refer to it at CEP, his “Content of Character” speech.
From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, addressing more than 250,000 civil rights supporters who had gathered in 1963 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Dr. King reportedly had not intended to list examples of his “dream.”

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Topics: character, character education, Character Education News, leadership, role models, teachable moments, president's post

How to Wean Kids from TV and Video Games and Back into L.I.F.E.

Posted by Michele Borba on Sat, Aug 3, 2013 @ 10:08 AM

Noted psychologist and parenting expert Michele Borba serves on CEP's Board of Directors and shares  her blogs with us. To read more check out her home page. Follow her on Twitter @micheleborba.

The majority of parents admit their kids are in front of that TV more than they’d like, but with summer here that could pose a special problem: How to get the kiddos off the couch so they experience something other than TV these next months.

Beware: it’s easy for kids (and us) to fall into the additive habit of spending too much time in front of the boob tube. But there are dangers to our children’s emotional, physical, cognitive, and social development that we should consider. The fact is the more kids watch TV, the more time is lost
for nurturing creativity, learning sports or hobbies, reading and expanding their knowledge, playing in the great outdoors, practicing social skills, or just finding ways to entertain and enjoy themselves. Those key “Family connecting moments” are lost, as are other crucial life lessons and just experiencing those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer.

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Topics: character, character education, parent involvement, family, technology, Borba Michele

Happy Campers Building Character

Posted by Mark Hyatt on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 @ 20:07 PM

By Mark Hyatt, President & CEO

Before the summer slips away from us all, I would be remiss if I did not take a moment here to talk about the wonderful experience that occurred June 16-21 at CEP’s  second Leaders of Character Camp (LoCC), hosted once again by my alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Many thanks to our individual sponsors and the SD Bechtel Foundation for making this camp possible.

Despite another unsettling Colorado summer clouded by the threat of continuing wildfires, 19 high school juniors and seniors from across the state were able to put their worries aside for a week and concentrate solely on improving themselves and each other. Led by five AFA cadets and four students from other colleges, the group took part in a range of classroom discussions and competitive outdoor activities designed to promote teamwork, trust, creativity,accountability and other core values. 

“It’s a way to equip youth with habits of honorable character,” explained Maj. Dale Sanders, LoCC director and deputy director of the AFA Center for Character and Leadership Development. This year’s challenging group exercises included hiking, biking, rafting, geocashing and paintballing.

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Topics: character, CEPLeaders, character education, leadership, core values, president's post

Character Education Data and the New Character Map

Posted by Sora Wondra on Fri, Jul 26, 2013 @ 12:07 PM


By Sora Wondra, Advancement Officer

CEP often receives inquiries from researchers asking about state-level character education legislation or from teachers and parents who are interested in finding a local National School of Character. In order to share this valuable information with a larger audience, Character.org has developed a new at-a-glance tool—the Character Map.

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Topics: character education, Character Education News, National School of Character, NSOC, patriotism

Character & Class: Why We Love #42

Posted by Dave Keller on Wed, Jul 17, 2013 @ 20:07 PM

By Dave Keller, Director of Transformation & Strategic Initiatives

The moment last night was powerful and uplifting --- and well deserved.

In the history of Major League Baseball, no one has done what New
York Yankees’ relief pitcher Mariano Rivera has done.  Simply put:  He is the greatest closing relief pitcher ever.

But that’s not why I’m writing about him in a character blog. 

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Topics: character, character education, core values, role models, sports

The 8 C’s of Character

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Jun 21, 2013 @ 12:06 PM

 

By Ed DeRoche

There are only two C’s in “character,” but one can find many words that begin with C in describing good, positive character traits and behaviors. I’ve compiled a few C words that show the attributes of character.

1. Caring: Two important synonyms are “compassion” and “empathy.” Robert Krzaric wrote in The Greater Good’s e-newsletter that caring-empathy is one’s “ability to step into another person’s shoes, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions.” Most importantly, he notes that new research suggests that caring-empathy is “a habit we can cultivate.”

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Topics: character, character education, integrity, moral character

How Can Schools and Districts of Character Create Safe and Civil Schools?

Posted by Sora Wondra on Tue, May 21, 2013 @ 10:05 AM

Can character education be implemented in a huge, diverse school district where students speak over 100 languages? Fort Bend says “yes!” and is advocating for comprehensive character education because they are so happy with the results.

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Topics: character education, NSOC

What's the Character Lesson in the Rutgers Coaching Incident?

Posted by Joe Mazzola on Mon, Apr 8, 2013 @ 11:04 AM

What does it take for leaders to make really tough decisions?

I’ve been following with great interest what happened at Rutgers University after the video clip of their basketball coach received so much attention.  The whole thing is pretty sad on several different fronts.  However, it is also rich with “teachable moments,” for coaches and others who are in positions of trust and leadership. 

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Topics: character education, teachable moments

Save the Date for CEP's 2013 Forum

Posted by Sweta Haldar on Fri, Apr 5, 2013 @ 11:04 AM

No one better understands the social challenges today's students face than educators. Last year, passionate character educators from around the world gathered to discuss pressing issues within education. CEP formally invites you to our 20th annual 2013 National Forum on Character Education, the ideal place to gain concrete ideas to improve your school. 

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Topics: character education, National Forum

Promising Practices Spotlight: Clifton-Clyde High School

Posted by Jesse Marble on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 @ 10:03 AM

Clifton-Clyde High School – Clyde, KS

Program: Mock Interviews

At Clifton-Clyde High School in Clyde, Kansas, students participate in mock interviews to prepare them for life after high school and/or college. This Promising Practice implements two principles from CEP’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education: using a comprehensive approach, and offering a meaningful and challenging academic curriculum.

Each student develops a résumé, cover letter, and application form that addresses their chosen field of study (e.g., medicine, education, etc.). Three weeks before the interview, each student’s information is mailed to the “interviewer” for a personal critique. The students participate in four 15-minute interviews on the day of the mock interviews. One week after the mock interview session, each student will mail the interviewers a follow-up thank you letter, thus preparing them for the “real thing” once they enter the work force.

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Topics: character education, leadership, character education in high school

Promising Practices Spotlight: Bayless Intermediate

Posted by Jesse Marble on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 @ 09:03 AM

Bayless Intermediate – St. Louis, MO

Program: Random Acts of Kindness

Once a month, student leaders at Bayless Intermediate in St. Louis, Missouri, meet to plan character-related activities. This particular Promising Practice promoted random acts of kindness. The student leaders planned an assembly that included a video news story, skits, and games that showed examples of random acts of kindness. This activity incorporated two principles from CEP’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education: promoting core values and creating a caring community.

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Topics: character education, promising practices

Promising Practices Spotlight: Bayless Elementary School

Posted by Sweta Haldar on Mon, Mar 11, 2013 @ 09:03 AM

Bayless Elementary School – St. Louis, MO

Program: Character Camp

Bayless Elementary School in St. Louis, Missouri, created a year-end celebration called Character Camp. This Promising Practice empowers students, teachers, and parents to research and create various stations that emphasize the character traits.

Here’s an example of how it worked one year. First, the teachers came up with a theme for the camp, e.g., “Where in the world is Character Carl?” Next, the students and teachers held class meetings to choose a destination for Character Carl to visit. The students had to research the destination so they’d be able to represent the location (through decorations) at the activity site. The decorations were also used at Character Camp, to tie it all together.

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Topics: character, character education, character education in curriculum

Reducing School Violence by Teaching Empathy

Posted by Sweta Haldar on Tue, Feb 26, 2013 @ 11:02 AM


By Ed DeRoche

"If your emotional abilities aren't in hand, if you don't have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can't have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.
" -  Professor Daniel Goleman

Over the past month, we have had informal discussions at the Center about violence from bullying to bullets.  Teachers and parents, given the events of the past few months, seem to be struggling to find ways and resources to help their children be more in touch with their feelings and concerns about what happens to themselves and others.  Thus, I want to say a few words about empathy.

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Topics: character education, school climate, core values, school safety

Should We Require Teaching Digital Citizenship? Yes.

Posted by Jason Ohler on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 @ 11:11 AM

Digital citizenship should not only be required, it should also become the primary lens through which we ask our children and ourselves to view the world. Our prosperity, humanity, and indeed even our survival, may well depend on it.

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, student voice, technology, cyberbullying

Another Sports Hero Turned Fraud? ‘Say It Ain’t So’

Posted by Mark Hyatt on Fri, Nov 16, 2012 @ 10:11 AM

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Topics: cheating, character, character education, moral character, president's post

Why Do These National Schools of Character Do Character Education?

Posted by Adam Williams on Sat, Nov 3, 2012 @ 18:11 PM

 

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Topics: character, character education, Education News, National School of Character, character education in curriculum, CEP2012

How can we create more just and democratic schools?

Posted by Adam Williams on Sat, Nov 3, 2012 @ 17:11 PM

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. 

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Topics: cheating, character, CEPLeaders, character education, key lessons, what works in education, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, student voice, character education in high school, core values, CEPForum10, CEP2012

Character Beyond the Classroom: Cesar Chavez and Fred Korematsu

Posted by Adam Williams on Sat, Nov 3, 2012 @ 11:11 AM

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. 

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Topics: character education, leadership, community of character, CEPForum10, moral character, CEP2012

2012 Promising Practices In Character Education Winners

Posted by Jesse Marble on Sat, Nov 3, 2012 @ 01:11 AM

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:

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Topics: character education, CEP2012, international, promising practices

National School of Character Case Study- Plattin Primary in Missouri

Posted by Jesse Marble on Fri, Nov 2, 2012 @ 16:11 PM

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.

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Topics: character, character education, CEP2012, NSOC

Are You A Cathedral Builder or a Stone Chipper?

Posted by Adam Williams on Fri, Nov 2, 2012 @ 12:11 PM

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!.” 

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Topics: character, character education, Forum Speakers, school climate, CEP2012

CEP's 2012 International Summit on Character Education

Posted by Jesse Marble on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 @ 20:11 PM

"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." 

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Topics: character, character education, international summit, CEP2012, international

On the bus to Mt Vernon: Kansas character education case study

Posted by Jesse Marble on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 @ 14:11 PM

Today, a group of Forum attendees spent the morning at Mt. Vernon, George Washington's historic Virginia home. On the bus ride down, I was able to meet Carrie and Barb-- two teachers from Clifton-Clyde High School in Kansas who teach character education to their entire student body. It was so cool here about what their school is doing and I wanted to pass along a few tidbits.

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Topics: character, character education

When Is It Okay to Reward Children for Doing the Right Thing?

Posted by Lara Maupin on Fri, Oct 19, 2012 @ 09:10 AM

CEP asked the experts when it would be appropriate to reward children in our latest National Schools of Character publication.

Here's what David Hulac, Marvin Berkowitz, and Russ Sojourner had to say:

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Topics: character education, what works in education, core values, moral character

Why Do You Do Character Education?

Posted by Lara Maupin on Fri, Oct 5, 2012 @ 11:10 AM

We asked our 2012 National Schools of Character why they do character education. Some replied:

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Topics: character education, National School of Character, what works in education, teachers

President's Post: Can Character Be Taught? In a Word, "Yes!"

Posted by Mark Hyatt on Fri, Sep 14, 2012 @ 11:09 AM

Intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education.”  - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the Character Education Partnership (CEP), we certainly believe character can and should be taught. So I have been particularly thrilled by all the attention and wide praise that has been garnered by the important new book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character, by Paul Tough. He argues compellingly that teaching reading, writing, arithmetic, and right from wrong is absolutely essential to producing not just good students, but good people.

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Topics: character education, what works in education, leadership, president's post

Character Education with Chess

Posted by Roumen Bezergianov on Tue, Aug 7, 2012 @ 12:08 PM

The following is an excerpt of the book “Character Education with Chess”

The King is the most valuable piece in chess. Its value is absolute because if you lose your King, you lose the game. The other pieces have a relative value which changes depending on the position and situation and are expendable. The King, therefore, symbolizes those crucial things in life that can not be bought and sold.

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Topics: character education, key lessons, Forum Speakers, moral character

Common Core: Building the Moral Infrastructure through Character Ed

Posted by Kristie Fink on Tue, Mar 13, 2012 @ 15:03 PM

The Common Core has now been adopted by all but five states in the U.S., making it the topic of discussion in faculty rooms all across the country. It touts high standards that encapsulate the knowledge and skills students need for college, career and civic readiness in a 21st century global society, but will it really deliver on its promise?

There is much to like about the new Core. Governors and state superintendents all across the country collaborated to create it, reflecting our national ideals of state and local control of education. This collaboration has also resulted in developing high standards rooted in performance that meet our national goals of preparing every young person to be college-, career- and civically ready by high school graduation. The standards also draw heavily from best practices and research on what high-performing countries do.

The new standards could elegantly inform our journey a decade into this new century with a vision of what it means to be educated and prepared for the challenges of a new global society. The new Core proposes to make rigorous academic content accessible to all students so that all students can be successful. They represent a paradigm shift in that they move teachers away from an emphasis on preparing students for low level, multiple-choice tests to more real-world, performance-based assessments. The level of rigor has been increased, with daily reading and writing across the curriculum in a wide range of texts, including literary and informational, and increasing text complexity across disciplines.

So what’s missing that might help students grapple successfully with the increased rigor and expectation of performance in this new Core?

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Topics: character education, Education News, what works in education, common core standards

Resistance to Character Education

Posted by Sarah Twardock on Tue, Feb 7, 2012 @ 16:02 PM

The mere mention of the words “character education” inevitably sparks resistance among certain populations.

If my students don’t get certain test scores, my job is in jeopardy, asserts the overworked teacher. I don’t have time to teach math AND character.

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Topics: character education, what works in education, school climate

Character Education Isn't a Quick Fix, but Well Worth the Effort.

Posted by Katie Hood on Fri, Jan 6, 2012 @ 16:01 PM

I recently listened to a radio show that discusses issues in American education. This day's particular show focused on character education and featured Crestwood Elementary School (MO) principal Scott Taylor.

The most striking thing I realized while listening to the show was that the most common issues in education: bullying, poor academic performance, pressure for students to reach test scores rather than truly learn just aren't issues at NSOCs.

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Topics: character education, key lessons, National School of Character, what works in education

Creating "a culture of integrity" in Atlanta Public Schools

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Jul 8, 2011 @ 17:07 PM

It’s comforting to see something good come out of something bad.  There’s not much more scorn that can be heaped upon the Atlanta Public Schools after the cheating debacle that surfaced this week in the news, shedding light on a scandal involving educators, administrators, standardized test scores, shocking lapses in morals, and examples set for our nations’ students that will take years of effort to undo.  But yesterday’s revelations are a huge step in the right direction. 

According to Interim Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr., Atlanta Public Schools will work toward achieving “a culture of integrity” as well as a “more open and transparent culture” among its schools, administrators, and teachers.  Too little, too late?  Certainly not. It’s a monumental step in the right direction, and CEP would like to offer information and resources

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, community of character

Ways to Celebrate Our Teachers

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, May 3, 2011 @ 17:05 PM

Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day. What is your school doing to honor the hard work of its teachers? While some schools stretch out their celebrations throughout the full length of Teacher Appreciation Week with breakfasts and other recognition activities, other schools seem to let the day pass without any acknowledgment of any kind. Just take a look at some of the comments here (May 1st post) and here (May 1st post).

If you could come up with your own way to acknowledge the hard work of all of our teachers, school leaders, and the faculty and staff as a whole, what would you do?

Here's one idea that was recognized as a 2010 Promising Practice.

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Topics: character education, leadership, teachers, community of character, school climate, core values

Funding Ideas for Attending the National Forum

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Apr 29, 2011 @ 17:04 PM

It's that time of year again! Our first official invitation emails went out yesterday , signaling that registration for the 18th National Forum on Character Education is now open! (If you haven't received yours yet, let us know and we'll make sure you're in our system.)

We've already begun to hear about excited attendees and speakers who are low on funds for the conference. It certainly is a great expense, when you add up the registration fees, hotel costs, flights, and any other expenses that come to mind. We know what it's like, being a nonprofit ourselves in these challenging time. Know that we are constantly working to find funding opportunities for you. Our Director of Resource Development is as we speak trying to secure funds we can reserve for scholarship money for our wonderful attendees out there, and we will be sure to let you know as soon as funds do become available throughout this registration cycle.

In the meantime, what options are out there for finding funding on your own? Many schools have pulled travel and conference funding as budgets are being slashed across the nation. One of our breakout session speakers initially applied after confirming that funds were available to travel, but has since heard that none of those funds will actually be available. So it becomes vitally important to explore all possible options to find other sources.

Here are some ideas that can help get that process started, many of which have been successful endeavors by previous conference attendees.

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Topics: character education, National Forum

Bowls for Hunger

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 @ 18:03 PM

CEP's March focus is Principle 5: Providing Opportunities for Moral Action. The following service learning idea was submitted by Tina Sohn, Art Teacher & District Character Leader, Sullivan Primary School a 2010 Nationa School of Character, Sullivan, Missouri . We'd love to hear what your school is doing.

Sullivan Primary School (pre-K through first grade) weaves character into every facet of their day. At such an early age, students are given many opportunities to apply values in everyday discussions and play.

One project that started as a small building service project grew to a district-wide project that now includes every campus in the school district, community businesses, citizens, parents, children, and school staff. The “Bowls for Hunger “soup supper night brings all stakeholders together for an exciting night with donations of goods and services as well as building relationships.

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Topics: character education, Character Education News, National School of Character, Service learning, character education in curriculum, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, student voice

Building a Caring Community

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, Feb 13, 2011 @ 18:02 PM

This post was written by Jessica Skinner, School Counselor at Lake Carolina Elementary School in Blythewood, South Carolina

Building a caring learning community goes beyond the four walls of a classroom.  At Lake Carolina Elementary, the faculty and staff have been deliberate in their approach to developing a caring community since the school opened in 2002.  We have worked to foster authentic relationships among students, faculty, families, and other members of our surrounding neighborhoods. We acknowledge that each of these stakeholders is an essential part.

As a team of educators, we realize that in order to build a strong school community, it is imperative to invest in each other as colleagues.  Teachers participate in professional workshops and outside-of-school activities to cultivate genuine relationships with each other and develop the faculty into a cohesive team. What we learn as professionals is then transferred into individual classroom communities by incorporating strategies such as daily morning meetings and end of day closure gatherings that give students the opportunity to connect with one another.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, character education, Character Education News, National School of Character, character education in curriculum, community of character

Bullying in Schools: A Strategic Solution

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Jan 24, 2011 @ 18:01 PM

Written by Joseph W. Mazzola President & CEO Character Education Partnership

Bullying in our nation’s schools is rampant.

Consider the following data points from the 2010 Federal Bullying Prevention Summit: every day, 160,000 students stay home out of fear of getting bullied at school; 1 in 3 students will be bullied this year (about 18M young people); 75-80% of all students observe bullying; and, depending on definition, 15-35% of students are victims of cyber-bullying.

Fortunately, our elected officials and others are now taking bold action. To their credit, for example, 43 states have passed anti-bullying legislation. 

I had the honor of representing CEP at the Summit. The key takeaways were: (1) bullying in schools is widespread; (2) the ramifications are very serious; (3) we need to learn more through research; (4) several government agencies are truly committed to taking this issue on; (5) policies and definitions need attention and clarity; (6) there are 67 programs that claim to combat bullying; (7) none of them has been shown to be effective through research; and (8) there is no simple, silver bullet solution.

As with all complex and chronic problems in our schools, narrowly focused intervention strategies typically fail to make a lasting impact. Zero tolerance policies, hallway posters and such all sound very good in theory. There is no doubt that they are also implemented by well-meaning people who really do want to make things better. However, according to many experts, such measures are shallow in nature and thus fail to achieve their intended purpose, especially over the long haul.

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Topics: bullying advice, character education, National School of Character, character education in curriculum, school climate, discipline

Engage families, communities in character-building

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Oct 6, 2010 @ 18:10 PM

The following post was written by Barbara Gruener, Westwood Elementary Counselor and Lynn Hobratschk, Westwood Elementary Principal. Gruener will be presenting at the 17th National Forum on Character Education.

In a town settled by Quakers, otherwise known as Friends, Principle 10 wasn’t too difficult to sell. A small bedroom community outside of Houston, Friendswood was founded with core values in mind. But knowing about character and putting character into action are two different things, so in 1987 a group of 120 concerned citizens gathered to decide which values would be important to focus on for the students and families in the Friendswood Independent School District. And so our character education initiative began.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, character education, Character Education News, National School of Character, National Forum, community of character, CEPForum10

RAGBRAI and Core Values

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Aug 3, 2010 @ 18:08 PM

Last week my brother and sister completed RAGBRAI—the bicycle ride across Iowa. From the starting point in Sioux City to the end point in Dubuque, they rode 480 miles over the course of the week. They both came home tired but euphoric. They’d had a wonderful time.
My sister couldn’t stop talking about how friendly everyone was. “Iowa has to be the most hospitable state ever,” she said. At every stop, people from all walks of life offered their homes to the bicyclists (and there were a lot of them. One count on the first day reported 20,000). The bikers camped out in their yards, slept in their basements, and shared their family rooms.

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Topics: character education, Character Education News, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, National Forum, core values, CEPForum10, RAGBRAI

Optimizing the High School Experience

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jul 27, 2010 @ 18:07 PM

Since my first blog post generated a response from a high school teacher wondering about what the Forum will offer for educators at the secondary level, I thought I’d feature one of our PreForum workshops today: Optimizing the High School Experience.

Just take a look at the takeaways:

Participants will learn how to help secondary students...

  • Develop skills in perspective taking and empathy that lead to respectful and compassionate behavior.
  • Appreciate diversity and work collaboratively with their peers.
  • Build safe and respectful environments in their classrooms and school.
  • Develop positive relationships with their teachers.
  • Address underlying thoughts and emotions that interfere with learning.
  • Become self-motivated and engaged learners.
  • Identify their strengths, set goals, and prepare for their future.
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Topics: character education, Character Education News, character education in curriculum, character education in high school, discipline, CEPForum10

Assessment and Sustainability

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, May 20, 2010 @ 18:05 PM

Posted by Brian McKenney, Principal, Long School

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, S.R. Covey suggests that when planning a program one should start with the end in mind.  At Long School, before planning new initiatives, the character leadership team analyzes data from the CHARACTERplus® School Report, completed each spring, to get a basic picture of the current state of our school.

The CHARACTERplus® School Report is a survey of staff, students, and parents designed to assess individuals’ opinions, feelings, and beliefs about the school.  That data provides useful information, from which the character education team identifies specific areas of need (e.g. Students’ Feelings of Belonging, School Expectations, etc.) that correlate with principles from Character Education Partnership’s Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education.  At Long School, assessment plays the role of bridge between what has been and what should be.  It is the end and the beginning of an endless cycle of school improvement.

The likelihood that character initiatives will survive and thrive over the years, regardless of changes in student population, personnel, and community is also carefully considered when planning new initiatives.

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Topics: testing, character education, Character Education News, character education in curriculum

"Character By Design" - Systematic Character Education Curriculum Development

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Apr 12, 2010 @ 18:04 PM

Submitted by Donna Dunar, principal, Alta Leary Elementary School

What’s that old adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention”? In 2009, we earned National Schools of Character (NSOC) winner status; in 2008, we earned standing as “finalist.” As a finalist in the NSOC process, our site visitors rightly recommended that we work on the integration of character education so as to make it more systematic. We took this feedback to heart as we grappled with what this actually meant.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, character education, Character Education News, leadership, character education in curriculum, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum

PBIS and Character Education: An Evolution towards Best Practice

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Sep 17, 2009 @ 18:09 PM

From Merle Schwartz, CEP director of education and research

Before I came to CEP in August of 2002, I was a school psychologist in Maine, a learning & behavior specialist, and wrote the first graduate course at that time on PBIS for the University of Southern Maine. Before that, I was a special education teacher for many years. I mention this because, at that time, I had the connection on how PBIS could been done well—and how character education was a foundational missing piece in most schools. Understanding character education allowed me to evolve beyond PBIS.

Although the intent of PBIS (remember it is part of IDEA), was to be proactive and prosocial, it  seems to have morphed back into standard behavior modification techniques. When I work with educators on this topic, and the need for the school to move beyond common “rule” to basic core ethical values, they quickly realize that PBIS does not help develop integrity. In many cases, when the reinforcers stop, the prosocial behavior stops as well.

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Topics: character education, Character Education News, what works in education, discipline

Unethical, Illegal, or Just Dumb?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Aug 3, 2009 @ 18:08 PM

By Joe Mazzola, CEP Executive Director

I’ve been following the trial of former Congressman William Jefferson in the Washington Post.  (You probably remember the case. He was found with $90,000 stashed in his freezer.  The money, marked by the FBI, was allegedly to be used to bribe the VP of another country. Jefferson was charged with 16 counts of bribery, racketeering and money laundering. ) Two recent articles really got me riled up. They summarize closing arguments by the defense counsel.

Basically, the attorney said his client was “stupid” and “exercised awful judgment,” but he was not a criminal. The lawyer made a distinction between ethics and the law, saying “prosecutors tried to turn what amounted to ethics violations into crimes. They’re trying to bend the law, stretch the facts to turn what is not a crime into a crime.”

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Topics: CEPLeaders, character education, Character Education News

2009 National Schools of Character Award Winners Announced

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, May 24, 2009 @ 18:05 PM

The Character Education Partnership (CEP) has named seven public schools, one charter school, one private school, and one school district as 2009 National Schools of Character. Read the Press Release.

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Topics: character education, Character Education News

Integrating Character Education Into the Curriculum

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, May 24, 2009 @ 18:05 PM

Read the recent dialogue between Marvin Berkowitz, Professor of Character Education at University of Missouri-St. Louis and Janice Stoodley, Director of the National Schools of Character. We invite your comments. How do you integrate character education into your curriculum?

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Topics: character education