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

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

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

By Philip Brown

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

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

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

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

Posted by Calvary Diggs on Thu, Aug 18, 2016 @ 09:08 AM

Last week, I shared 3 great ways to prepare your classroom for excellence as you head back to school. This week, here are three more ways to improve your room!Tip 4: Developing "eyes in the back of your head"

Tip 4: Developing "eyes in the back of your head"

Have you ever had one of those moments that, with just the sound of your voice, you got a student, on the brink breaking down, back on track? Maybe your back was turned but you felt something or you just knew exactly what to say. For these moments to happen, it takes foresight on your part but also your students must know what they should be doing.

So what does this mean? If we want to encourage good character in our classrooms, everyone has to be on the same page about what that means and looks like.

Set Class Rules: Enlist your class to create rules on the first day of school. It fosters a sense of ownership for those rules. They won’t simply be the teacher’s rules, they become their rules. Some studies suggest that if you give students the proper guidelines for developing class rules, what students come up with is about the same as anything you would have picked, given the same criteria. So what are those guidelines?

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Topics: character, discipline, teachers

Character and Academics--How to Integrate

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 @ 13:08 PM

I’ve been thinking a lot about our focus this month on integrating academics and character education in the classroom. We truly believe they should be intertwined, but sometimes when I go to a school for a site visit evaluation, I observe lessons that seem like were planned just for my visit, as if someone had said, “Be sure to teach a character lesson today.”

I like it best when I get to observe a challenging academic lesson that engages the students and incorporates the natural intersections with character that most content contains. Exploring the ethical issues in science, debating historical decisions, and of course, exploring character traits and ethical dilemmas in literature are obvious choices, but there are ethical considerations in every subject.
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Topics: character, teachers, intrinsic motivation

A Tale of Two Schools: Valuing Development Over Control

Posted by Dr. Philip Vincent on Mon, Aug 8, 2016 @ 09:08 AM

By Dr. Philip Vincent

At least 15 years ago I received a letter (people still wrote those then!) from an educator who had recently heard me in her school district.  She shared with me how she had moved to a new large school district, interviewed at two schools and accepted the job at one of the schools. The letter really impacted me and I was honored that she shared it with me.  Now the actual letter is long gone but I remember it in great detail and will now share it with you in her words. The following is her story.

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Topics: school climate, teachers

Teachers are Learners Too!

Posted by Jennifer Pilarski on Thu, May 12, 2016 @ 08:05 AM

By Jennifer Pilarski, STAT Teacher* at Norwood Elementary

*Baltimore County Public Schools has developed the Students & Teachers Accessing Tomorrow (S.T.A.T.) initiative which has provided each school a teacher who is a professional development resource and instructional coach.

Teacher-centered Learning

If you are a teacher, you've been told to create a student-centered environment, shouldn't those creating PD for teachers have to do the same thing? The traditional forced faculty meetings and lecture style professional development are just as ineffective as lecturing to our students. It is time to provide teachers with customized and personalized learning opportunities and to capitalize on the leadership and expertise within the staff.

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Topics: teachers, Professional Development

President's Column: Teacher Appreciation

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, May 4, 2016 @ 08:05 AM

by Becky Sipos, President & CEO, Character.org

"In a completely rational society the best and brightest of us would aspire to be teachers, and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing on civilization from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have." --Lee Iacocca

Teacher Appreciation Week (May 1-7) is a time to reflect on the importance of teachers and how we can best honor and encourage them. As a former high school teacher, I remember the teacher appreciation breakfasts and lunches, the occasional mug or teacher appreciation planner, but not much more.

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Topics: teachers, Teacher Appreciation

Four Ideas for Boosting Teacher Morale

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Mar 9, 2016 @ 06:03 AM

by Becky Sipos

Teachers matter. Decades of research and studies have found that, what to me, seems obvious--the quality of teachers has a bigger influence on student achievement than school facilities or curriculum. But what the studies have not clearly defined is what we mean by student achievement. Nor have they figured out what to do about ensuring teacher quality. (See the latest issue of Education Next for a range of articles and commentary on this issue as they explore 50 years since the Coleman Report.)

Those who think student achievement is best measured by test scores are among those who wanted to tie teacher evaluation to student outcomes. Taking it a step further, many wanted to use those tests to eliminate the low performing teachers. That led to hotly contested policy debates on teacher evaluations and protests on time spent on testing. Not to mention that the lowest performing teachers were often those at high poverty schools, and there was not a long line highly effective teachers waiting to take those challenging positions. Those debates may have dissipated a bit with the newly passed Every Student Succeeds Act that reduces the role of the federal government in requiring test score accountability in teacher evaluations. How the states will move forward remains to be seen.

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Topics: teachers, Teacher Appreciation, Caring Community

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

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