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Posts: 122
Reply with quote  #1 
A few questions for you...

-What is your definition of "character?"
-Do you agree with any of the characteristics listed on page 59? If yes, which ones?
-How do you teach the characteristics you agree with in your classroom?

Have a great weekend!

Maggie Susong
ATPE Member Engagement Coordinator

Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #2 
My definition of character corresponds greatly to the the Golden Rule: treating others the way we want to be treated. In the context of a classroom, this would look like a give-and-take between the students and the teacher: I, student, will complete this task right now in exchange for a few moments of texting time. And I, teacher, will answer questions after you have talked with your partner about it. Mutual respect and consideration.

I agree with Peterson's definition of character as "a set of abilities or strengths that are very much changeable." For example, the traditional traits of citizenship, fairness, and "social intelligence" are learned and shared among a majority of people. These are practical skills that contribute to civilized interactions.

As I teach, I make an effort to establish a classroom in which everyone has an opportunity to feel safe to learn. This means insisting that profanity isn't respectful, personal space is to be honored, the give and take of conversation applies to discussions, and that the success of making progress and improvement are to be shared by everyone.

Tamra M.
M/S H/S Math Teacher

Posts: 63
Reply with quote  #3 

My definition of character is in line with tamram’s: Treat others how you want to be treated.  I have used this quote many times when talking with some of my students. I’ve even written it up on the white board. 

I agree with the good portion of the characteristics, especially bravery, appreciation of beauty, and social intelligence. 

As a substitute teacher I never know what I’m walking into so I carry my quote of what it means to be a character with me and use it whenever I need it. I want students to respect me and their fellow peers: This means paying attention (eyes and ears), no cussing, no other types of mean words flying around (and that includes in writing), keep inside your personal bubble and not invade others, and do your work to the best of your ability.



Posts: 42
Reply with quote  #4 
A few questions for you...

-What is your definition of "character?"

the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

-Do you agree with any of the characteristics listed on page 59? If yes, which ones?
I agree with most of the 24 characteristics listed on pg. 59.  Bravery, citizenship, fairness, wisdom, and integrity, love (although that's hard to measure), humor, zest, appreciation of beauty, kindness, and gratitude.

The only one I question- especially working at a behavioral school is social intelligence.  (the ability to recognize interpersonal dynamics and adapt quickly to different social situations).  I'm afraid this is skill that is beginning to lack in our culture, so it's not being taught at home as it once was.  Also, certain organizations that are big in teaching it - like church and the scouts are not gaining the attendance they once were.

-How do you teach the characteristics you agree with in your classroom?  I try to model these characteristics by applying "the Golden Rule" that many mentioned above. 

Jennifer Goedken

Posts: 26
Reply with quote  #5 
My definition of character is more than the golden rule. It is how you behave when no one is watching you. Kids learn early to do what is expected of them by their teachers, but when you see them demonstration good character on the playground, at lunch, or where there is little adult supervision as compared to the supervision in the classrooom, then they are taking owenership of their character. Is this teachable? I believe to a certain extent it is teachable and kids have choices on how to shape their character through role models, enviorment, and their peers. Kids also watch to make sure the adults in their lives live what they "preach" and will mimick that same behavior, good or bad.

I think fairness and integrity are the ones that are easily recognizable in kids and are ones they will either latch on to or not do depending on their enviroment. One thing I will ask my kids is "how would you want me to treat you in this same situation". That gives them time to think what type of consequence they would be acceptable with receiving. This opens up a conversation and gets them thinking more with an empathic ear instead hurt feelings of being treated unfair. Now, that doesn't excuse the unfairness, just helps to understand it. Once there is a clear understanding of the situation a consequence is given and understood. This conversation usually takes place walking around the playground, which is sometimes enough consequence.

In my classroom we have about 30 minutes each day to discuss character either through our Leader in Me program or in class meetings. We come up with a mission statement for our room and review it, a lot, in the first few weeks of school and when we have a new studnet, to make sure there is a clear understanding. It usually takes us a week to come up with a mission statement that we can understand and live with for the whole school year. It is about 3-4 sentences that is created by everyone in the room. Each group comes up with what they think is important for a fair classroom.


Posts: 13
Reply with quote  #6 
Character is defined, in my opinion, as an individual's personality that show's itself through action or inaction.  I believe we are born with certain personality traits that are affected by our surrounding environment.  These traits and the environment shape our character for good or evil, for kindness or hurt, for honesty or lies.  I believe that our character is malleable due to our changing environments (such as school, adults in our lives, situations that occur and induce introspective thoughts), and our changing level of maturity (brought on by the simple process of growing up, aging, and experiences).

The character trait I most agree with is FAIRNESS because this trait encompasses many of the other traits listed on pg. 59.  In order to be fair, one must be able to have kindness, wisdom, integrity, love, gratitude, and one not listed:  honesty.  Fairness keeps a person thinking of all the people and aspects involved in a situation.  It is conducive to empathy.

In my 8th grade classroom, I teach fairness by modeling it to my students with my day-to-day interactions with them, their parents, my co-workers, my duties.  Students are quick to point out if they feel something is not fair.  I am always prepared to stop, have a discussion with them, and explain the situation at hand.  The students are usually very satisfied with this approach and the French lesson moves along.  Sometimes, the student is correct in the unfairness of a situation.  Then, we discuss, determine, and implement a fairer solution.  I have found that this approach creates mutual respect within my classroom.  Students know I care about fairness and respect.  In turn, they are willing to work hard, to cooperate, to behave, and to learn in my classroom.  

Posts: 37
Reply with quote  #7 
-What is your definition of character?
I guess I define character like Stephanie, as the way you behave when no one is looking.

-Do you agree with any of the characteristics listed on pg 59? If so, which ones?
The characteristics I most agree with are integrity, fairness, kindness, and gratitude. I think integrity really shows a person's true character because, like Stephanie mentioned above, integrity is how one behaves when no one is watching.

-How do you teach characteristics you agree with in your classroom?
When I taught middle school, we did have character education to teach school-wide. I did what was expected of me, but I never really felt like anyone took it seriously. I believe that the way I actually teach character is by modeling the characteristics I want them to learn and display themselves. Individual discussions with students who are struggling both academically and nonacademically offer great teaching moments, as do talking students through conflict resolution. Getting to know students and having talks with them about life and encouraging perseverance, kindness, empathy, integrity, and many other of the characteristics listed in the book.

Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #8 
I guess I just erased mine.  RATS!  If there are 2, I apologize.

Character=Golden Rule Plus.  I totally agree with Stephanie.

I also agree with all characteristics presented by the author.  It is morals & virtues, & it USED to be taught by families.  Unfortunately, those "skills, etc."  do not seem to be taught there anymore, or my special needs HS kids let their anger issues override them.

I remind mine as often as needed to treat others the way they want to be treated; that way I can't be accused to mixing Church & State.  Kids learn by example, & teachers are an integral part of their environment.

Sue Sutphin

Posts: 94
Reply with quote  #9 

Question #2


My definition of character:  I believe the moral behavior of a person shows what their character is for better or worse.  This would be a well-rounded person who has a good sense of right and wrong (and tends to do the right thing even when no one is watching.)  Stick-to-it-ness (resiliency) in most circumstances, strong work ethic and exercises self-control.  Other character traits are respect for self and others, reflective, kind, loves self/others, and spiritual (God or other higher power).  

And from the Merriam Webster on line dictionary:  he way someone thinks, feels, and behaves: someone's personality: a set of qualities that are shared by many people in a group, country, etc.

Character Traits that can be nurtured / taught at school:                                       (And those that I agree with from page 59.)

Citizenship:  Student and whole group participation.  This can be taught by whole group work and small group work.  Also, classroom jobs.

Fairness:  Students are very good at spotting what they deem to be fair.  Classroom procedures encourage / teach fairness.  Waiting for others to finish speaking, taking turns, learning to be a good winner/loser, and hard work to earn good grades to name a few.  In regards to hard work a student learns that it is fair because if you study you’ll learn more and if you don’t you grade will reflect that too. 

Integrity:  I encourage students to tell the truth and do right even when no one is looking over their shoulder.  For example:  This can be modeled/learned during the Daily Five ELA portion of the day.  Read to self, time on computer, going to the library to check out new books, working on word works, etc.  These are all self-monitored activities learning activities with group rotations.  A time for learning and not to slack off.

Optimism:  One way to teach this is through goal setting.  Being realistic yet also setting a goal to reach for.  Breaking the steps down to reach the goal. I believe optimism is part goal setting and part belief in oneself.

Curiosity for example can be fostered during a social studies lesson.  Students may group up in pairs and do research.  Choices can be listed on the board.  For a rain forest study each pair of students will pick a rain forest animal and research on some of the listed websites, library books, and illustrate the animal, write about the habitat, food source, predators, etc.  Pairs will then get up and share their work. 

Kindness:  Whole group learning about this during Social Studies.  Discussion about what they believe kindness is and how to show it.  A poster board can then be made and posted in a conspicuous place in the classroom.  Have students act out kindness in groups of 2 to 4.  How to comfort a friend, etc.  This would be part of classroom procedure treat yourself and others with respect.

Bravery:  Stepping outside of comfort zone.  Participating in whole group whether or not it feels comfortable.  I have tongue suppressor sticks with each student name on it and pull these at random.  This way no one feels singled out and can be comfortable that everyone has a chance to speak/share.  

Zest:   Some ways are:  A math lesson using a small package of M & Ms to teach about fractions.  This hands on activity is a favorite for the students and creates excitement for learning.  Or students can write about an exciting time in their writing journal.  Teachers can model their zest too! 

Dictionary definition:  lively excitement: a feeling of enjoyment and enthusiasm: a lively quality that increases enjoyment, excitement, or energy

These are some of the character traits I teach in the classroom.


Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #10 

I have been reflecting on the meaning of character and find it difficult to define. It seems to me that character is the very essence of who we are. I agree with the post defining character as "mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual."

I agree with the characteristics listed on page 59 but the way they manifest themselves in individuals differs tremendously.

My classroom is the library. I teach character education by my actions and hope students will learn from example.

Posts: 83
Reply with quote  #11 
I define character as choosing to do the right thing, even if it is unpopular, unrewarded, or unseen.
I agree with the list of traits on page 59, especially the "noble traits".
In my classroom, we focus the most on teaching kindness, although this trait can overlap several others in the list (love, fairness, social intelligence, gratitude). Our curriculum has built in lessons that develop emotional awareness in ourselves and others. We then use that awareness to promote kind interactions between students.

Posts: 32
Reply with quote  #12 
My definition of character begins with integrity.  This covers a lot of bases, including honesty, willingness to carry one's load, honor, forthrightness and concern for others.  Any student possessing these basic traits will succeed as a student.

 I agree with the 'traditional noble traits" listed on page 59; however am less inclined to agree that each individual student must attain the "emotional traits".  There are many successful people who are not necessarily socially inclined.  I believe that is a matter of personality, and not every successful person has a socially adept personality, nor do they need to.  In sales careers yes, not so much in engineering, math or science.   

I do believe these important character traits can be taught through practice, rewards for exhibiting these traits, and most of all through praise for those who model them in the classroom.  These behaviors must be modeled by the teacher at all times, and unfortunately that teacher may be the only adult in the students life modeling integrity.  If integrity is insisted on in the classroom, even though not at home, there will be a change in many students that could last into adulthood.  Change occurrs one child at a time.

Rita Wilcox

Posts: 27
Reply with quote  #13 
I define "character" as someone who demonstrates strong morals and values that include those listed on page 59 depending on the situation. But, those morals and values are what you exhibit, others see, and determines whether or not you will be successful or not in life. Of course, how one defines a successful life then comes up for discussion. 

We have begun to utilize "WHIM" which is an acronym that stands for "work ethic", "humility", "integrity", and "maturity" and we discuss with the students from the beginning of the year reiterating examples and reviewing each all throughout the year. This was taken from a book pertaining to the traits one should look for when hiring a potential employee. 

Besides utilizing WHIM, I have a lunch group of special education students that I teach and we talk about how to behave in various circumstances even with situations that arise throughout the year since I teach middle school. But, at any chance I get, be it picking up a piece of trash on the floor that they were about to step over, to talking when someone else is talking, etc...I try as much as possible to teach character traits discussed so far within this book be it academic or behavioral. 

Sherry Ayres

Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #14 
-What is your definition of "character?"
Character is the foundation of who you are as a person. Positive or negative. A person who has good character does the right thing, even if no one is watching.

-Do you agree with any of the characteristics listed on page 59? If yes, which ones?
I'm not sure what exactly page 59 says because my pages numbers don't correspond, so I'll use some listed by other responders. I think integrity, kindness, and fairness are very important characteristics we need to teach.

-How do you teach the characteristics you agree with in your classroom?
I find that most character in my classroom is taught during or after group activities. When I monitor during the activity I help students show/grow character by showing kindness to one another. It may be that they need help with solving the math problem. I also find I have to help with kind and fair communication. "You may want to try wording it like this." Or "He's upset now. Really think about how you just said that. Did you say what you meant?"
I also have a picture I like to show of three boys. All 3 boys are different heights. They are all trying to see over the same wall. However, the stool each one needs is a different size. I think it does a great job of illustrating the concept what being fair really means. It is based on our needs.

Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #15 

#2  I’ve seen a sign that says “character is what you do when nobody is looking,” which I tend to agree with, and I believe this means that character is your core values.  On page 58 Tough states that character can mean very different things to different people and that the definition will change over time, which I also agree with. 

Of the traits listed on page 59, I agree with most of them including bravery, fairness, integrity, love, humor, kindness and gratitude.  I’m surprised not all 24 character traits are listed, and not all of the ones listed are easily taught in school.  They can be modeled by teachers and staff, but as page 60 points out a study of seven popular character-education elementary-school programs …found no significant impact. 

Fairness is shown by having classroom rules that apply to all and are created by each class.  Integrity and honesty are closely related, and I often talk one on one with students who are being dishonest, and may have them write a reflection on the situation.   I tell my students that I just love this class and love teaching in hopes that they know I value them.  Humor helps engage students, so I try to use it often while keeping my sarcasm in check.  When I’m in a co-teach class, I show respect to the other teacher and defer to her as needed.  I try to model the character traits that I value and show a zest for learning and teaching.  I readily admit my mistakes because I believe students need to value and learn from their mistakes.

I’m in a middle school where one day a week we had about 40 minutes to use a curriculum for character ed.  The curriculum involved videos and questions, but my students were not very involved in this, and I found that modeling character traits during class was more natural.  My school also had a philanthropy program which my students responded to, and I modeled by giving generously.

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