Back to School Character Education
The most essential element of your back to school routine is teaching a positive classroom culture. Character education is a great way to accomplish this and with the events this summer, why not add a fun Olympic theme?
Use these vocabulary words, team, share, understand, learn, share, kind, citizen, manners, quiet, responsible and quality.
Teach your students what these words mean and how members of an Olympic team show these character education traits. You can bet they will be motivated to be like their favorite olympic stars!
When people are on olympic teams, they have to learn to work as a team. I told my students how important it is to work together, to try to get along, respect each other, just like the olympians do. We also discussed the importance of communication and problem solving as a team. My students were so quick to show me examples of teamwork. One of my small groups created a lego construction, and proudly said, “Mrs. Beckner, look what we built as a team!” Another group of kids said they worked as a team to create a picture with the pattern blocks. I reminded them it was amazing what can be accomplished as a team!
I talked about how the members of a team have to share equipment and places to practice. We also discussed how we share classroom supplies and how we take turns using items like the pencil sharpener and playground equipment. Another thing they share are ideas on how to practice their skills just like when we share our journals or discuss project ideas.
Sometimes the Olympians need to be quiet to listen to their coaches or to other members of the team. I told my students that I also need them to be quiet when I am trying to teach them something like how to do a science experiment. They also need to listen to their classmates when they are talking because those classmates might add some valuable insight to what we are doing. Just think of what would happen to olympians who didn’t listen to their coaches! They could get hurt because they were talking instead of listening, and perform a dangerous move the incorrect way.
Team members are always trying their best to learn more about their events or how to do things better in the Olympics, just like I tell my students that I want them to try their best to learn, even when it is difficult. We also discuss that these teams learn from their mistakes, so it is okay to fail, as long as you are trying your best to learn. I talk about how important it is to have a good attitude toward learning, and how I do not want to hear “I can’t do it!” They can say that something is difficult or challenging for them. This student was having a hard time learning how to count money, and I reminded him that I knew counting money was difficult. I told him I was proud of how hard he was trying to learn something new, just like the Olympians do when they have to learn a new skill.
Olympians are kind to their team members. They encourage one another. My students are taught how important it is to be kind to each other, think about how they want to be treated, and treat their friends the same. I love it when I hear a conversation between my students where they are pencouraging each other. For example, I heard a little girl telling her friend that she knew her friend could read the difficult page in the book. I also witnessed a child helping another child up after they fell and giving them a hug. It just warms my heart to see these wonderful examples of kindness!
Team members show good manners. They are respectful to each other and to their coaches. They also show good manners to their competitors. My students are taught to show good manners at school. They are told to say please and thank you when someone does something for them. We talk about how we must always show respect to each other even though we may not agree.
Athletes on the Olympic teams have to be responsible people. They have an obligation to work hard and do their best to win. They are also responsible to care for and motivate the members of their teams. I discuss how my students are responsible members in our classroom. I expect them to care for one another. I tell them we are like a family. They also have to be responsible for the items we use in our classroom such as these Community Helpers props that we used during a lesson. They have to be responsible for their learning as well as for their friends.
Olympians have to understand when their teammates may be having a hard day. They need to try to help them feel better. We talk about how we need to try to understand how our friends are feeling, especially when they are upset. We need to understand when our friends may not choose to do what we want them to do, such as play the game we want to play.
A member of an Olympic team is a good citizen. They have to follow the rules or they can lose their place on the team. I tell students that they have to try to follow our class rules. Students are taught how a good citizen will obey the procedures that are set up in all the different areas of the room because it creates a positive learning environment for everyone.
Olympians have to work hard and try their best to be quality athletes. We always spend the first few weeks of school focusing on what a quality student means, and how a quality student shows all the character education traits like working as a team, trying to share, being kind, quiet, working to learn, showing manners, being a good citizen, and trying to understand. We built a culture of a quality classroom.
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Have a great back to school season!