METHODS FOR DEVELOPING SCHOOL-WIDE CHARACTER EDUCATION

 

1. Develop the moral culture of the school.

a. Moral leadership from the administrator(s)

        principal's vision
        principal's involvement
        set up steering committee
        give public recognition for moral acts

b. The tone of the school conveys a moral atmosphere of mutual respect, fairness and cooperation which pervades all relationships--those among the adults in the school as well as those between adults and students. It shows in little things like answering of the telephone, "How can I help you?"

c. Peer coaching. Spirit of collaboration: decision-making by consensus. Empowerment from administrators.

d. Roadblocks to developing character: pressure to get through the curriculum, the "tyranny of the clock", stress, pressure to perform well on standardized tests. The more competition, the greater the need to emphasize honesty. (Tanya Harding) "Human decency" scores are more important. Elevate the importance of morality by spending school time on moral concerns.

2. School-wide discipline should promote Character Education. Children need order and discipline. Use rule violation as an occasion for moral growth. The school should take action every time respect and responsibility are violated.

The best places for teaching character are shared spaces:
    playground
    cafeteria
    halls
    bathrooms
    buses
    library

Meet with teachers/students and brainstorm.
Set clear expectations.
All staff need to be invested and consistent in teaching these expectations.
Teach children how to supervise themselves.

Use Glasser's approach of Reality Therapy:

a. What happened to bring you here?
b. Is that behavior helping you?
c. Do you want to do something about it?
d. What do you do well to gain recognition?
e. What do you plan to do in the future?
f. Make the plan into a contract.
g. Review it after implementation.

3. School projects to develop a sense of community:

a. Keep playground clean. Pick up litter.
b. Wash off graffiti.
c. Wash their own desks.
d. Each class has a School Job. They can bid or choose the job they want. A list of possibilities is provided by the principal. For example: bathroom pick up, cafeteria cleaning, helping the secretary, writing a school newspaper, running a school store, hall clean up and duty.
e. Assemblies: student participation
f. Class buddies, cross age tutoring, Big Brother/Sister, handicapped pairing
g. Community service: weave into curriculum
senior citizens, day care, VA hospital
h. recycling
i. conservation project
j. maintenance of school or outdoor area
k. have a Values Fair where projects by each class are shared
l. teach Justice and Mercy: interest in public affairs and service, caring and public spirit. Take on international, national or community projects like homelessness, disease, world hunger, Amnesty International. See Kids Count.

4. Student government: There is a need for increased decision-making by students, and schools which are more responsive to students. Democratic self-government. Taking responsibility. Rule making, enforcing, evaluating and changing.

        a. Student Council:

            Little Student Advisory Council (grades 1-3)
            Big Student Advisory Council (grades 4-6)

            two representatives from each class
            issues must be discussed in class meeting and reps bring input from class
            meet with principal over lunch

Student Council inspects classrooms for cleanliness.

b. Town meeting style meeting. Moderator. Warrants, etc.

c. Problem solving lunch with principal. Bring a certain population together: Fourth grade boys, etc.

d. Student Judicial Board. Elected students preside. A student advocate serves as the defense.

e. Have a Constitutional Convention where representatives from each classroom get together to decide on school governance.

5. Parent involvement:

a. Send a survey to parents
b. Parent workshops
c. Grandparent Day: share values
d. Family Science Fair: work together, cooperation
e. Family Homework: send home literature to read together or discussion topic. Discuss family chores.
f. Start a TV Turn Off program.


6. Have a Value of the Month.

7. Have a School Pride Assembly where awards are given for citizenship. Be specific about what was done to earn the award.

8. Have students earn points toward a school letter through service. (Secondary and Middle School)

9. Set up a "bus buddies" system where older children help younger.

10. Find ways to make new students feel welcome. Banner: "Welcome, John Doe." etc.

11. Instead of "extra-curricular", have a philosophy of "co-curricular". Getting involved in co-curricular activities affects self-esteem, feeling of community, and academics.

12. Encourage good sportsmanship. Expect it from coaches, fans and players. Have students write their own sportsmanship code, which includes how they treat the referee/umpire. At the end of each game have the officials rate each team on sportsmanship:

    Sportsmanship Rating

    Satisfactory Unsatisfactory

    Adults

    Students

    Players

    Coach

13. Principal delivers a "homily" on public address system in the morning. "Its nice to be important but its more important to be nice."

14. Have a Suggestion Box. Students write ideas for improving the school. If their name is on it and the idea is used, they get a free hot lunch pass or basketball game ticket, etc.

15. News Bulletin Board or Principal's Board. On it are names of students who showed good character, and what they did.

16. All members of the school community are encouraged to send Character Grams to people who did something showing character.

17. Study great documents of government (Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, Bill of Rights, Constitution). Students write their own.

13. Have a co-curricular Character Club where students take on community service projects.

14. Put mottos on the walls.

15. Have a Character Chronicle: a newspaper with items addressing character. Students contribute poems, comic strips, mottos, news items.

16. Arrange "Idea Exchanges" between classes or schools. Students decide on the topic and invite another group to come discuss it with them.


 

School-wide Character Education: How to do it

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