This post originally appeared on the blog Teaching with Haley O’Connor.
Hi friends! I wanted to stop by today and share all about Character Education. I believe that our students NEED us to model kindness and respect, and they also need explicit instruction on anything we ask of them. In this post, I’ll have tons of ideas for you on character education! I hope you take away several ideas you can implement in your classroom tomorrow!
Why Teach It?
I believe that every year, teachers are expected to teach even more to our kiddos each day. Our days fill up so fast, and there is barely enough time to cover the required curriculum. BUT I have seen in my own classroom that time spent discussing being a great friend, handling conflicts respectfully, and being confident in ourselves leads to my students being more successful in almost all area of their lives. This article has some great research about the power of Character Education, and I definitely recommend it!
Over the past few years, I have seen such a need for engaging curriculum that went beyond classroom rules. I didn’t want my students to just FOLLOW the rules, I wanted them to understand WHY. It’s easy to have “Be Kind” as a classroom rule, and I have always said it like a broken record. But I realized for many of my students, they didn’t completely understand. They learned when they said something hurtful, they would get a consequence. But it didn’t go much deeper than that for many of my students. When you ask them what being kind looks like, they might say something like “don’t bully” or “don’t hit your friends” because those have always been the expectations. But that’s not enough to change the world…and we have the power to change the world in our classroom! Our students can learn to be leaders, stand up for others, and show empathy…we just have to help them a bit!
From my time in the classroom, it’s obvious that some kiddos are more sensitive than others. For some, their personalities are more emotional, for others, they’ve had fabulous parents who modeled strength, courage, and compassion for them. But…we can teach all of our students and something will stick with each of them. Even our “hardest” kiddos that seem impossible to reach can grow in this way just as they grow as readers and mathematicians!
When do I Teach It?
Of course, there are SO many amazing ideas for teaching character education on Pinterest, in books and in your classrooms! I’m just sharing what has worked for me over the past few years! 🙂 I chose to teach Character Education during our morning meetings and during weekly R-Time lessons. R-Time was a district requirement, but I tried to take our lessons deeper and spend more time than was required. Each week, we spent at least 30-45 minutes talking about great character. BUT…I also tried to find teachable moments throughout our year when these conversations happened naturally. Sometimes, if I noticed several students were having a hard time playing a game fairly, we would stop for a bit and talk about fairness. If multiple issues happened on the playground, we would take some time to discuss it and share ideas for solving conflicts. I’ve finally taken the time to write these ideas down in an easy to read format and you can find those in my Character Curriculum pack on TPT. You can buy the full year, or choose specific units that would help your class! 🙂
How Do I Teach It?
Just like with academics, when we learn a new concept, we keep visuals in our room to help remind us! Each year, my classroom walls start out blank, and we add anchor charts and work to them! In the same way that we model problem solving in math, we can model problem solving in friendships! Having the language displayed for our kiddos makes its easier for them to use! Here are some anchor charts that model the language we might use, or the steps.
We went through this chart together. It’s super important to do it WITH them, so make sure you discuss each picture before you add it! 🙂
Apologizing is SO tricky! I think many grown ups could use this structure! The structure helps the kiddos process what they are apologizing for, and reminds them that an apology isn’t just words…it’s a promise not to do it again!
When we talk about handling emotions with control, it’s so important we teach our kiddos how to label their emotion. It’s much easier to solve problems when they can say “I feel JEALOUS when he gets to play the iPad.”
This chart helps our students know exactly how to share their feelings. For some of our students, they don’t need this! They have grown up being able to express themselves, and probably handle most conflicts well. 🙂 But for those students who aren’t able to express themselves, sentence stems help so much, just like in class discussions or writing.
Discuss It and Model It
After we TEACH a strategy, it’s important we take time to discuss and model with our students!
After talking about conflict resolution, you can have your class help you come up with solutions! Using post-its makes students feel like THEIR words are on the chart, and perfect for students who aren’t writing yet. For fluent writers, they could write their own post-its!
Using sorts are a great opportunity for discussion! After reading each scenario, have your students share their opinion with a shoulder partner!
Encourage It Every Day
Just like we say “I love how you used that reading strategy today!” we can encourage students using the strategies we are teaching!
For kindness, students (or the teacher) can write down kind things they see! You could share them in a class meeting, or send them home for parents to see!
I love to give students reflecting time on HOW they will integrate these skills in their life.
These are just a few activities to integrate Character Education into your day! I hope they were helpful to you! I’m so excited to continue to share ideas with you! All of these ideas are included in my Character Education lessons. You can click each picture to take you there! There’s even a freebie in the preview of my Kindness packet!
I also wanted to offer you some FREE Binder Covers and Dividers for organizing your curriculum! You can create one big binder and use them as dividers, or use them as covers for individual binders! 🙂 I also included spine labels and a black/white version! 🙂 Just click the picture to grab your copy!
For a special discount, be sure to check out the growing bundle! Purchasing it before it’s finished means you get it for a steal! 🙂 Each time I add a new unit, the price increases, so the earlier you buy it, the better!
Find more resources to help support and strengthen Classroom Community on TpT.
Haley O’Connor is a passionate and caring educator that believes in modeling kindness and respect to her students. She seeks to make lessons engaging, developmentally-appropriate, and challenging for her learners. Her favorite thing about the classroom is building relationships with students, and watching them reach out to others. You can find her products in her TPT store, Haley O’Connor. She is the author of the blog, Teaching With Haley O’Connor. Haley loves to share ideas and collaborate with other teachers on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.