What's Happening in Character?

Resource Roundup: Getting Started with Core Values!

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Tue, Dec 1, 2015 @ 08:12 AM

While there’s no particular order you need to address each of the 11 Principles, naturally, many schools start with principle 1, “The school promotes core ethical and performance values as the foundations of core values.”

When it comes to principle 1, the most valuable resources you have at your disposal are your stakeholders: administrators, teachers, support staff, students, parents, community leaders…

However, there are some resources that can help you jumpstart the process, as well!

Getting Started

If you want to make the most of your most valuable resource, your stakeholders, first you need them to buy in. Need help convincing your staff, parents and larger community that character education isn’t just nice to have but absolutely necessary?

Show them “A Question of Character,” a short documentary from the Jubilee Center of Character & Virtues that demonstrates the need for character education and the impact it can make.

Looking to brainstorm core values before beginning your selection process? Take a look at the words Core Essential Values has chosen to highlight in their 2015-2016 Values Calendar. The Virtues Project is a great resource as well. Be sure to check out the comprehensive list of values complete with definitions.

There are so many core values to choose from, we couldn’t possibly name them all, but here are a few examples and some resources that can help you approach the topic.

Read More

Topics: integrity, core values, empathy, Kindness,, Resource Roundup, Character Resource Roundup

Resource Roundup: Tools for Motivating Your Students

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Mon, Nov 2, 2015 @ 08:11 AM

When do you feel most motivated?

It’s unlikely your answer is, when I’m studying for an arbitrary standardized test or completing activities that require rote memorization. Perhaps you feel most motivated when you’ve set clear goals for yourself that are meaningful to you or when you’re working on a project that draws on a passion of yours.

This month’s resource roundup focuses on how you can truly engage students in meaningful ways so that students will eager and motivated leaders and learners.

Read More

Topics: intrinsic motivation, Resource Roundup, Character Resource Roundup, student engagement

How to Overcome Common Challenges & Engage Parents

Posted by Calvary Diggs on Thu, Sep 3, 2015 @ 07:09 AM

This month, our Research Roundups are focusing on Parent and Community Engagement, and this is the second part of a two-part RR. The first RR addressed some common methods and ideas to promote family and community involvement in schools. This article is for those of you who are ready to get parents involved or have already made attempts.

You have ideas, and you’re ready to put the pedal to the metal and send your school on the fast track to parent and community involvement. But if you’re like most teachers, when the gears in your brain are whirling, you come up with a few good ideas and some potential challenges too. The last RR hopefully got your brain thinking, and this one will help address some of the roadblocks. Our list isn’t exhaustive by any means, but here are a few things that might come up and ways to problem solve them.

In General

Here is an article on parent involvement. Although, it’s somewhat dated, it does two things really well. First, it shows that getting parents involved has been a problem for a while – it isn’t specific to you and your school – you’re not alone, so don’t get discouraged!

Second, the article lists a number of “solutions,” or points of advice, for getting parents involved. At their core, these points reflect three core themes present in just about any article you’ll find on involvement: Understanding, Communication, and Outreach. Before we move on, let’s unpack what I mean:

  • Understanding: Schools/teachers must learn the needs of parents/community and establish themselves as a friendly part of existing dynamics.

  • Communication: Schools/teachers find effective ways of contacting parents and the community that are comfortable for both. This can be through home visits, utilizing the PTA/PTO, sending out newsletters, and/or contacting through phone/text/email/home visits.

  • Outreach: Schools/teachers work to meet a need in the community while addressing parent involvement. For example, in communities with English Language Learners, schools could start parent literacy classes.

It’s also important to know what parent-involvement looks like for you or your school, so that when you see it, you know.

Getting parents involved will undoubtedly require some problem-solving, and keeping these themes in mind will certainly help.

Read More

Topics: parent involvement, Character Resource Roundup, English Language Learners

Beyond Fundraising: Parent Involvement in Kids' Character Development

Posted by Calvary Diggs on Tue, Sep 1, 2015 @ 08:09 AM

When it comes to education, and character education in particular, there are many important key players: teachers, parents, and the community at large. Educating youth is a cooperative endeavor. And when schools, parents, and communities deliberately encourage similar values and goals, the opportunities for student success and growth become unlimited.

During the month of September, our blog will focus on Parent and Community Engagement through Principle 10, “The school engages families and community members as partners in the character-building effort.” This Resource Roundup provides advice, strategies, and resources for strengthening the solidarity between school and community and teachers and parents. These channels of communication are essential and must be utilized for more than ensuring homework gets done on time. Educators and parents need to communicate about what matters, both in terms of the child’s academic and character growth.

Getting Started

The first step in any successful relationship is starting it and “A Dozen Activities to Promote Parent Involvement” is a great place to begin. The most common ice breakers that teachers use are letters and emails at the beginning of the term, which they continue throughout the year. More than merely keeping parents regularly informed concerning classroom happenings, these letters are a great way to communicate your classroom rules, values and norms to your students’ families

Need help getting started? There are plenty of templates available online, or you can easily make one that fits your own unique style.

Read More

Topics: parent involvement, Character Resource Roundup, Community Involvement

Are you a Teacher Leader?

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Wed, Aug 5, 2015 @ 09:08 AM

Teacher leadership has become a buzzword recently. All teachers lead activities and lessons in their classrooms. Many teachers also lead after school activities and clubs. Some teachers even serve as administrators, too. These days it’s more normal for teachers to have multiple roles in a school than just one.

So what exactly does teacher leadership mean, and more importantly, why should you care?

The NEA defines teacher leadership using 7 domains. This Character Resource Roundup focuses on three of those domains:

  • “Fostering a collaborative culture to support educator development and student learning”

  • “Promoting professional learning for continuous improvement”

  • “Advocating for student learning and the profession”

Fostering a Collaborative Culture

Often the topic of fostering a collaborative culture, especially when it comes to staff culture, is a discussion that is left for the principals and administrative teams. Teacher leaders can and should play an essential role in these efforts. Ask yourself what you are doing to foster a collaborative culture.

  • How do you welcome new staff?

  • How do you support your coworkers?

  • How do you collaborate amongst your grade level team and professional learning communities?

Read The Power of Teacher Networks, a book in which author, Ellen Meyers, “describes teacher networks as a force that breaks teachers out of isolation, improves their practice, advocates for students and schools, and keeps our best teachers teaching.”

Looking for something a little shorter? For a quick introduction read “Fostering Leadership Through Teacher Networks” by Sarah Burns. By strengthening your “Teacher Network” you will improve your teaching practice and hopefully make some new friends too!

Read More

Topics: Advocacy, Character Resource Roundup, Teacher Leadership, Shared Leadership

Fostering Student Leadership - A Character Resource Roundup

Posted by Micah Kenney on Sat, Aug 1, 2015 @ 08:08 AM

During the month of August, the Character.org blog will focus on Principle 9, “The school fosters shared leadership and long-range support of the character education initiative.” One aspect of this principle is the encouragement and inspiration of students to become leaders in their schools and communities.

There are a variety of resources for students and staff to improve leadership and inspire those around them. Many of the resources shown here are versatile resources that can be used by students to learn and practice student leadership or used by faculty to encourage it.

Videos, Articles & Other Helpful Resources

Read More

Topics: Character Resource Roundup

Character Resource Roundup: How Do I Assess School Climate?

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Fri, May 1, 2015 @ 09:05 AM

Principle 11 is a very important part of the 11 Principles of Effective Education, but it is often seen as a daunting aspect of the process.

Let's take a closer look at Principle 11: “the school regularly assesses its culture and climate, the functioning of its staff as character educators, and the extent to which its students assess good character.”

As I’ve been reading Schools of Character applications and making site visits, I’ve found that Principle 11 is one that schools often struggle with and I completely understand why. In an era of standardized testing, the idea of adding climate surveys on top of that can be overwhelming, but it is important to remember, they really are worth the effortl.

Schools that excel at principle 11, do not simple give out these surveys, they collect the data and study its implications. The staff works as a team to discover innovative ways to address the concerns that arise. This thoughtful and intentional approach begins with choosing a survey that is a good match for your school. Below you'll find some helpful reads for getting started and tools you can use to make the assessment process more manageable.

Read More

Topics: school climate, Character Resource Roundup

Resources for a Meaningful & Challenging Curriculum

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Wed, Apr 1, 2015 @ 06:04 AM


During the month of April, the Character.org blog will focus on Principle 6, creating a meaningful and challenging academic curriculum that respects all learners. The 11 Principles framework provides a variety of indicators that demonstrate a school has excelled at this task. Our Character Resource Roundup focuses in on three important indicators:

Read More

Topics: Character Resource Roundup, learning needs, critical thinking, student engagement

Character Resource Roundup: Tools to Help Teach Service Learning

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Sun, Mar 1, 2015 @ 09:03 AM


In March, our blog will be focusing on opportunities for moral action, Principle 5 of our 11 Principles. Want your students to make that leap from moral thinking and feeling to moral action? Engage them in service learning projects.

Need Inspiration?

Service learning projects are most valuable and most fun when they are student-led initiatives. Help your students discover an issue that they’re passionate about and see what creative solutions they can dream up.

If you need a powerful story to show your students how much they can do when they put their minds to it, introduce them to Zachary Bonner. An accomplished philanthropist, Zach created the Little Red Wagon Foundation, an organization founded to provide aid to those affected by Hurricane Charley, when he was only 8 years old. Now the organization runs many successful community service projects including regularly distributing “zach packs” of food and supplies to homeless youth.

Are your students ready to follow Zach Bonner’s lead? Here are some of our favorite service learning resources.

Read More

Topics: Service learning, Character Resource Roundup

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.

Read More

Topics: character education, Caring Community, Character Resource Roundup