Ideas for Teaching Character
A good book for teaching
character traits can be found on our books
BUILDING EXCITEMENT AT YOUR SCHOOL
An excerpt from:
The Character Education Handbook: Establishing
a Character Program in Your School
By: Anne C. Dotson & Karen D. Wisont
Any character program will be more
successful if it is fun and exciting. Beginning
the year with a bang is a great way to announce
the program to new students and to remind continuing
students that good character is important at their
school. By changing the media you use throughout
the year, you can saturate the environment with
your message without seeming redundant. Students
and staff can become bored if the same approach
is used over and over, so you need new ways to
call attention to good character.
Start with a Kick-Off
Begin the character program each year with
an exciting kick-off. Make it a day of fan and
surprises. You want students to feel like this
is going to be something interesting. Some ideas:
- Hire an entertaining guest speaker or musician
for an assembly.
- Use the public address system to reinforce
the program. Skits written by and starring students
- Award prizes randomly throughout the day.
- Have someone dressed as the school mascot
roaming the halls. Decorate the mascot with
buttons of the character traits you will be
- Sponsor character-related contests.
- Send a letter to parents detailing how character
traits will be taught.
Vary Your Media
When coming up with ways to build excitement
around the character program, leave no stone unturned.
Just as a steady stream of water can wear down the largest
rock, so too steady efforts to incorporate character into
your curriculum will slowly change the learning environment
at your school. As much as possible, vary the media you
use to present the character message so kids are saturated
with it. A dynamic program is key in maintaining the enthusiasm
and interest of staff and students.
- Be seen everywhere. Visual reminders help students
absorb the message of good character. Keep the visual
stimuli shifting so you continue to catch students
- Use print for parents. Printed materials are helpful
in reaching parents. If your school has a weekly parent
bulletin, use it to provide ideas for reinforcing
character traits at home. When you have program successes,
be sure parents hear about them.
- Use audiovisual to your advantage. Todays
kids are accustomed to multimedia, so use your AV
- Keep the special events coming. Special events throughout
the year keep people interested in the program. Initiatives
and events help remind everyone that your school is
committed to character.
Include teachers and staff
As you think about how to build excitement in the school,
dont forget about creating excitement for teachers
and staff as well. For the character program to be a
success, you need their help. As much as possible, make
it easy for them. Teachers need resources for ideas
on how to incorporate character into their subjects.
Similarly, keep non-teaching staff members informed
about upcoming programs and how they can help. Administrative
staff often interact with parents and are likely to
work one-on-one with students. Support staff such as
security guards, cafeteria workers, and maintenance
personnel have many opportunities to reinforce the program.
Be Aware of Burn-Out
Finally, dont forget to take care of yourself.
Youll be spending a lot of energy trying to get
students, parents, and teachers excited about character
education. In the process you may find yourself getting
very tired, even burned out. When this happens, do something
proactive that helps rebuild your enthusiasm.
Dont be discouraged if things dont happen
fast. Keep at it, and elieve that the message of good
character is getting out. Character education is about
changing the culture of a school, and that takes time.
Developing good character in students results from consistent,
creative effort over several years.
Education Handbook is a useful tool for
anyone in charge of a character program. The
handbook contains many tips and strategies
for involving students, teachers, staff members,
the community, businesses, and parents. It
provides practical advice on running productive
meetings, measuring program effectiveness,
and optimizing committee dynamics. It is available
from Character Press: Fax purchase orders
to 360.221.8172. For more information, go
Each month, we post a different
idea page for you to use in your character education
program. Sign up to receive this free idea page each
Encourage a Shared Vision
Your schools character program will be most effective
if committee members (and teachers) have a shared vision
for what it can accomplish. Positive changes in the
school environment will help build excitement and a
sense of possibility . Some ideas for cultivating vision
among committee members:
- Relate another schools experience. There are
many success stories f schools that have been transformed
as a result of character education. Read an article
that inspires vision at each meeting.
- Have a what if session. Ask committee
members to complete the statement What if ...
(For example, What if ... none of our students
swore in the halls? or What if ... parents
thanked us for teaching their children?) This
informal exercise helps cultivate a sense of possibility
among the committee.
- Find new ideas by reading key books on character
education or looking on the Internet. Ask each committee
member to bring in one idea to the next meeting.
- Attend a character education conference. Conferences
are great places to get the big picture
on character education and gather useful ideas from
- Provide information. Pass out copies of pertinent
articles at every meeting so committee members will
know what is going on in the field of character education.
- Give positive reinforcement. Always keep your eyes
open for opportunities to thank your committee members.
We all like to know that our efforts are noticed and
- Celebrate your successes. Whenever possible, find
reasons to celebrate even the smallest of victories.
Try to share with the committee any and all positive
comments you hear from students and parents.
Seeking recognition for your school is another way
to help committee members remain enthusiastic. Many
of our schools are maligned in their communities because
of high-profile problems such as drug use and violence.
Find ways to publicize the good things happening at
your school through the local media and community organizations.