Hello, Fellow Educators!!!
With only 23 more days of school my mind has quickly shifted from this year to planning for the upcoming year. As I have been thinking about next school year, I’ve spent a lot of time defining my specific intention as a health and physical education teacher. As a result, I’ve come to the decision that a major element of my classroom experience will focus on character education. Character education is a simple, yet profound concept. Basically, it is the deliberate effort to develop virtues that are good for the individual and good for society (Scholastic.com).
It is an undeniable truth that as teachers we play a crucial role in the development of a child’s character. Yet, even though we have an integral role, we are not always mindful of this role. From my personal reflection, I don’t believe I am maximizing my full potential of influence, thus profoundly limiting my students. As I have come to this understanding, I also have come to believe that there are simple, yet powerful, ways to enhance character development in my classroom. So today I am going to share my proposal for how a middle school (or elementary) can intentionally focus on character education. I have developed this program as an initiative headed by the PE department but this could also be led by the school counselor, advisory planning team, or used in an individual classroom (although I think it would be most powerful as a school-wide campaign).
Okay, let’s get started…
What supplies to do you need? The only think you need for this program is Blair Turner’s Character Calendar, which can be bought from TpT. I happened to stumbled upon it during the TPT Teacher Appreciate Sale. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would serve as the framework for our character education program. Best part, it’s only $10!
(Character Calendar preview on TPT)
Why PE? I think there are a number of advantages to the PE department spearheading this campaign. Most importantly, I think PE is an ideal avenue because we are lucky enough to teach every student. Additionally, I think PE is unique as it creates ample opportunities for students to experience life-like situations through game and sport. Finally, I think character development is an integral part of wellness promotion, which is a primary element of our PE curriculum.
What’s it going to look like? Each month we are going to focus on one character trait. It will be introduced in PE and reinforced throughout the school day in advisory, core classrooms, and the hallways and cafeteria. Here’s a look at what I am proposing for next school year:
- In Physical Education – As the hub for character education, a portion of PE instruction time will be used to thoroughly introduce each character trait of the month. After the initial introduction, students will be asked to refer to their copy of the Daily Dose of Character Cut Apart Calendar, which will be printed in their health and physical education workbook. Along with an overview of each trait and regular reference to the daily dose calendar, we will spend a few minutes each day highlight the monthly character focus. We will also put up the Value of the Month, Quote of the Month, and Anchor Chart Posters and have the Shout Out Cards available for kids to share about positive things they observe in class.
(Character Kudos Shout-Out Cards preview on TpT)
- During Advisory – As part of my plan, I am proposing that students use advisory time to complete the Monthly Reflection Worksheet at the end of each month. However, a back-up to this plan is to complete this worksheet during a health period at the end of the month (students will take part in one health day every other week, rather than a three-week unit – more on this in future posts).
- In Core Classrooms – Due to the already jam-packed schedules in the core classrooms, I am not asking core teachers to use instruction time to focus on this initiative (however, if they want to that would be great!). Instead, I simply plan on asking each teacher to post the Value of the Month and Quote of the Month Posters in his/her classroom (I will print off copies at the start of each month). Also, as each student is currently given a monthly calendar to keep track of assignments, due dates, announcements etc. I would love to see teachers using the Character Calendar provided in this packet as the monthly student calendar. It is a subtle way to reinforce the monthly focus. Additionally, in the language arts classroom a possible extension of this program could be the use of Blair’s Daily Character Journal. It looks like something six graders would especially enjoy!
- Throughout the Hallways and Cafeteria – My plan is to create a bulletin board/wall display listing each of the character traits with a place in the middle highlighting the current value of the month (the packet even comes with bulletin board banners!!!). Surrounding the monthly highlight, I will leave space for students’ shout-out cards, so we can display the awesomeness of our students! I will also post flyers in the hallways and cafeteria promoting the character of the month.
- Recognizing Student Success: At the end of each month, the student from each grade (three in total) who most exemplified the character trait of the month will be selected and honored. Students will nominate their peers by sharing a specific examples of the character trait in action (using the Character Kudos Shout-Out Cards). A special prize and certificate (maybe Blair has a template to purchase) will be given to each chosen student and there will be a special recognition ceremony at the end of the school year.
How does character education connect to school wellness? The implications character education has on wellness is truly limitless! By intentionally focusing on the development of each student’s character we are in turn enhancing each dimension of individual well-being. Ultimately, I think this is a fantastic way to begin implementing a social wellness initiative!
My Final Thoughts: I am beyond excited to present this program to my principal and colleagues. My goal for any school-wide wellness initiative (or any initiative for that matter) is to make it as easy as possible to implement across the curriculum. My hope is not to overwhelm my amazing co-workers, rather show how simple measures can create a meaningful impact. Ultimately, I think this program it is going to create a tangible transformation in our school environment.
P.S. If you have introduced a similar campaign or plan on highlighting character education in your classroom/school, please share about your experience in the comments below!