Free Character Development Resources
So how can school administrators and teachers meet the growing need for character coaching and non-cognitive skill development in middle school students at a time when the availability of time and resources to do so is at an all-time low?
A recent article published by Education World entitled, entitled Activities for Building Student Character, School Community outlines a number of helpful ideas that work together to help to build student character and create a sense of community and respect in the school.
We all experience a sense of culture within our homes, our workplace our communities and the schools we attend. In every case, it begins with organizational leadership. This is where the tone is set for what is considered acceptable behavior and what is not, and how everyone interacts with one another.
So how might teachers reinforce "strong character"in the classroom? A good place to start might be simply engaging the students in a conversation about what character is and why it is important. Giving the students a chance to identify and "own"values deemed important such as, fairness, respect, and honesty reinforces their commitment to observe and support expression of these values.
Students can also be encouraged to study character in favorite sports, media and music figures. Attraction to such figures is often based only on what students are seeing or hearing about these individuals, and while some might appear to be successful, a closer look might reveal a much more troubled life. This exercise gives students the opportunity to see that character is not defined in terms of worldly success, and it challenges students to look at their own lives to see how they measure up.
Teachers might also look for ways to integrate non-cognitive skills such as awareness of emotions and emotional regulation into all classes. For example, math class might provide a great opportunity for a teacher to help students develop greater awareness of their own thoughts, feelings and emotions in the presence of a math problem that appears too hard to solve. This classroom experience might then be used to engage the student in a conversation about how the student manages their emotions in response to outside-the-classroom situations where they also feel unable to tackle the problem at hand.
While time and resources might limit the use of formal, non-cognitive skill development programs, the classroom always presents plenty of opportunities to reinforce and develop good character.