When I was preparing to become a teacher I envisioned my classroom of the future to be a caring learning community built from consideration and respect. One which applauded responsibility and perseverance; where friendships grew through cooperation and sharing. Unfortunately, I found the reality to not always be so picture perfect. Oh I had some amazing kids who were hard working, kind, and generous, but I also had children who seemed unfamiliar with words like respect and honesty. It never occurred to me at the time to intentionally teach these things. After all, they weren’t in our curriculum, so I only addressed character traits as situations warranted.
Fast forward a couple of years. Behavior problems in school seemed to be on the rise maybe because more and more kids were going to before and after school programs which meant less time with families…less time to teach those important traits that would build the foundation for how they would choose to treat others and what effort they would put forth in school. It became obvious that we as a school family had to do something. Our counselor put together a set of traits that the entire school would work to develop. There was a specific trait we were all to focus on each week and one child from our class was to be recognized for demonstrating that trait. It was a great start but without any character building resources, planning lessons became a time consuming chore and as time went on, it was the thing first eliminated from the lesson plan when teachers ran short on time.