September 2017 Blog


Edward DeRoche, Director

Character Education Resource Center


                                                           Photo Credit: Huffington Post

The Promises

As you start this new school year, here are 10 “promises” that you should internalize into your teaching, the management of your classroom, and most importantly, in your relationships with students. What is modeled is imitated!


  1. Behavior rewarded is behavior repeated—good and bad!
  2. There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.
  3. What we allow, we teach; what we accept, they will do. (M. Borba)
  4. The classroom is as much a social setting as it is an academic one.
  5. Character is about second chances but only if you learn from your mistakes.
  6. If it is not right, do not do it; if it is not true, do not say it. (M. Aurelius)
  7. Take the Pottery Barn oath: You break it , you own it.
  8. Negative attitudes drain, positive attitudes fuel. (M. Marshall)
  9. Relationships are to learning as location is to real estate. (J .Comer)
  10. The world is run by “C” students! (A. Maguire)

Make it 15 by adding your won 5 promises!

The Practices

The question: What can we learn from the practices of effective, competent, and experienced teachers? Let’s take a look at a couple of reports.

Eric Jensen interviewed over 100 principals and asked them to list skills they look for when hiring a new teacher.

In no particular order, the following were listed:


  1. Good attitude – optimistic
  2. Resourceful – able to take care of their own problems
  3. Love of learning – projecting this to students
  4. Handle stress – being a resilient learner
  5. Ability to read emotions – detecting when students are apathetic
  6. Responsible – showing up every day, not blaming others
  7. A willingness to try something new or different
  8. Likes kids
  9. Willing to be a role model
  10. Loves learning and making a difference

Other considerations included: being a team member, enthusiasm, good sense of humor, flexibility, creativity, self-confidence, and a passion about teaching.

From Marvin Marshall’s Monthly Newsletter- Volume 10 Number 12,
December 2010 — http://www.MarvinMarshall.com

In an article in Principal, (May/June 2013, p. 56.) titled, “Four Steps to Close the Gap,” Gail Connelly, the NAESP Executive Director writes:

“Effective teachers do all three of the following. They are extremely good classroom managers. They know how to teach lessons that engage students, spark their eagerness to continue learning, and then lead them to the mastery of the subject matter. They have positive expectations for student success.”             www.naesp.org

Annette Breaux is an internationally renowned author and speaker. She authored the national best seller 101 Answers for New Teachers and Their Mentors. Several years ago she wrote an article addressing the questions: Can anyone be a great teacher? What are the qualities great teachers have?


  • In summary, she says that they truly love children; are masters at classroom management; possess a thorough understanding of their subject matter; understand that they are actors on a stage …capable of entertaining, capturing and enrapturing their audiences every day; are positive, kind, compassionate, patient people; don’t impose their moods on their students; have a sense of humor and share it daily with their students.


  • She adds that great teachers recognize the importance of establishing positive relationships with their students, have high expectations of all students, and that they are not perfect teachers and when they make mistakes, they act as good role models do, admitting their mistakes, learning from these mistakes and offering apologies if necessary.

SmartBlogs on EducationCan anyone be a great teacher?

Annette Breaux, February 15, 2013

The Pledge

Now, as each of you begin a new school year take The Positive Teacher Pledge! Repeat after me!


  • I pledge to be a positive teacher and positive influence on my fellow educators, students and school.


  • I promise to be positively contagious and share more smiles, laughter, encouragement and joy with those around me.


  • I vow to stay positive in the face of negativity.


  • When I am surrounded by pessimism, I will choose optimism.


  • When I feel fear, I will choose faith.


  • When I want to hate, I will choose love.


  • When I want to be bitter, I will choose to get better.


  • When I experience a challenge, I will look for opportunity to learn and grow, and help others grow.


  • When faced with adversity, I will find strength.


  • When I experience a setback, I will be resilient.


  • When I meet failure, I will move forward and create a future success.


  • With vision, hope, and faith, I will never give up and will always find ways to make a difference.


  • I believe my best days are ahead of me, not behind me.


  • I believe I’m here for a reason and my purpose is greater than my challenges.


  • I believe that being positive not only makes me better, it makes my students better.


  • So today and every day I will be positive and strive to make a positive impact on my students, school and the world!

One of my Friday pleasures is to read Neville Billimoria’s email column call Soul Food Friday. Neville is Senior Vice President for Membership/Marketing and Chief Advocacy Officer at Mission Federal Credit Union. This “Pledge” is taken from the July 26, 2013 post of Soul Food Friday.







A “skills” quote:

“Expressing care for another is not an innate ability present more naturally in some people than others, but rather a skill that can be taught and nurtured through a supportive educational environment.”

-Scotty McLennan, Dean for Religious Life, Stanford University (bold is mine)

A “skills” memory:

”I loved playing baseball. Our city had open try-outs for minor league teams. On day four, one of the coaches said to me, ‘Son, we can’t have players on this team without skills in every area.’ I had ‘grit’ but couldn’t hit. I also had ‘perseverance’ so I became a teacher, a principal, a dean.”

(The question of how skillfully is open to debate.)

At our Character Matters Conference (June 2017), sitting with a few teachers over our delicious box lunches, we started talking about “21st Century Skills” and the “new” character education movement – the focus on the social-emotional needs of students. I expressed the opinion that I thought the programmatic/instructional emphasis was on the emotional side of the SEL (follow the money) with some, but not too much, attention helping students develop their “social skills.”

As I noted in my 2013 blog , “The Skills Game” recent employee surveys showed that employers are looking for certain qualities in employees such as listening and communication skills, adaptability, creative thinking skills, problem-solving skills, goal setting skills, and competence in reading, writing, and computation skills. It has been reported that 85% of those who lose jobs do so because of inadequate social skills.

It seems to me that social skill development should be an essential part of schools’ character education initiatives (with character strengths and emotional skills as the other two).

A survey conducted through Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, asked the question: What are the best skills for kids to have these days?

The responses:

90% – Communication

86% – Reading

79% – Math

77% – Teamwork

75% -Writing

74% – Logic

58% -Science

25% – Athletics

24% – Music

23% -Art

Social skills include habits and attributes that some call “Habits of the Heart.” This includes providing instruction and practice in helping students to be respectful, be responsible, be honest, be trustworthy, be caring, be courageous, be courtesy, be compassionate, and be fair.

These learned skills are coupled with “Habits of the Mind” – being a critical thinker, appreciating the importance of knowledge and learning, learning how to learn, practicing self-discipline, making ethical decisions, learning to problem solve, controlling anger and emotions, resisting peer pressure, and thinking before acting.

The third skill set is often labeled, “Habits of the Hands,” which includes knowing and practicing the Golden Rule, being of service to others, and becoming an active, participating citizen.

In my research for this blog, I found a program developed by Stephen Elliott (Vanderbilt Peabody education and psychology researcher) and co-authored with Frank Gresham, of the newly published The Social Skills Improvement System Classwide Intervention Program (SSIS-CIP).

They identified the top 10 skills that students need to succeed based on surveys of over 8,000 teachers and over 20 years of research in classrooms across the country. The skills are:

  • Listen to others.
  • Follow the steps.
  • Follow the rules.
  • Ignore distractions.
  • Ask for help.
  • Take turns when you talk.
  • Get along with others.
  • Stay calm with others.
  • Be responsible for your behavior.
  • Do nice things for others.

They report: “In our research, we found that elementary kids and teachers value cooperation and self-control. When we teach and increase those behaviors, we reduce problem behaviors and maximize learning time…. “

“If we increase social skills, we see commensurate increases in academic learning. That doesn’t mean that social skills make you smarter; it means that these skills make you more amenable to learning.”

More information about the SSIS Program can be found at: http://www.PearsonAssessments.com.

Another discovery – a web site, called SKILLSYOUNEED (https://skillsyouneed.com), which provides information and resources for each of the following category of skills: Personal, Interpersonal, Leadership, Learning, Presentation, Writing, Numeracy, and Parenting skills.

As a reminder, I published two blogs on this topic that may be worth your review:

  1. The Skills Game: Who’s on First? What’s on Second? How’s on Third!” [Published by SmartBrief-Education, 11/12/2013]

2.  “The Skills of Question-Asking,” [February 2015 Blog]

And finally, think about this each month during the new school year:

Children who scored high on social skills were four times as likely to graduate from college than those who scored low.”

Teaching Social Skills to Improve Grade and Lives, David Bornstein, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/24

Question/Comments: deroche@sandiego.edu


                             WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED “LEADERSHIP?”

                                          Edward DeRoche, Director

                                   Character Education Resource Center


Character is the center pole, the core of leadership effectiveness.                                                                 —–Zenger and Folkman (The Extraordinary Leader)

In May, I read an article that asked the question, “Is Your School Better Because You Lead It? (ASCD, V 74, N8 May 2017).

Good question. But what’s the answer?

The answer is captured, I believe, in these additional questions: What is leadership? One has to know what it is before deciding its value.

What is leadership in a school setting? Does the culture of an organization (business, non-profit educational) determine or influence the style or behaviors of its leaders?

Are there differences (traits/habits/behaviors/styles) between male and female leaders in and out of schools settings??

Because of space, I want to focus on what leadership is because it helps lay the groundwork for examining the other questions.

What do we mean when we talk about “leadership?” Depends on who you ask and what you read.

I have had a long-term interest in presidential leadership, so let’s start there. It is common for historians and others to rank presidents based on the effectiveness of their leadership. Rankings are based on a variety of leadership factors. Two examples.

Fred Greenstein (“The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Clinton”) offers six qualities related to the leadership styles and performances of presidents — public communication, organizational capacity, political skill, vision, cognitive style, and emotional intelligence.

Historian Robert Dallek (“Lessons from the Lives and Times of Presidents”) describes seven factors that distinguish effective and ineffective presidential leaders — vision, pragmatism, charisma, consensus, trust, judgment, and luck.

In 2000, I published an article in the Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education, and Development (September 2000, Vol. 39, Issue 1) titled, “Leadership for Character Education Programs.” My list for school or programs leaders suggested that school and program leaders should be visionaries, missionaries, consensus builders, knowledge sources, standard bearers, architects, role models, communicators, collaborators, resource providers, and evaluators.

The Turknett Leadership Group offers a “Leadership Character Model” stating that “Leadership is about character – who you are not what you do.” The model includes three core qualities as the keys of “leadership character:”

(1) Integrity — honesty, credibility, trustworthy. “Without integrity, no leader can be successful.”

(2) Respect — empathy, lack of blame, motivational mastery, humility. “Respect helps create a culture of partnership and teamwork.”

(3) Responsibility — self-confidence, accountability, focus on the whole, courage. “Great leaders accept full responsibility for personal success and for the success of projects, teams, and the entire organization.”

Recently, P.B Stark (https://www.pertstark.com) wrote about the “10 C’s of Great Leadership.” His ten included: character, communication, care, compassion, connectedness, commitment, conviction, competence, courage, and confidence.

Daniel Goleman, a psychologist at Rutgers University and author of Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence, adds the ability to identify and monitor emotions — “your own and others” and “to manage relationships. He writes that the qualities (competencies) associated with “emotional intelligence” distinguish the best leaders and include:

(1) Self-Awareness –Realistic self-confidence: You understand your own strengths and limitations; you operate from competence and know when to rely on someone else on the team. Emotional Insight-You understand your feelings. Being aware of what makes you angry, for instance, can help you manage that anger.

(2) Self-managementResilience: You stay calm under pressure and recover quickly from upsets. You don’t brood or panic. In a crisis, people look to the leader for reassurance; if the leader is calm, they can be, too. Emotional balance: You keep any distressful feelings in check — instead of blowing up at people, you let them know what’s wrong and what the solution is. Self-motivation: You keep moving toward distant goals despite setbacks.

(3) Empathy–Cognitive and emotional empathy: Because you understand other perspectives, you can put things in ways colleagues comprehend. And you welcome their questions, just to be sure. Cognitive empathy, along with reading another person’s feelings accurately, makes for effective communication. Good listening: You pay full attention to the other person and take time to understand what they are saying, without talking over them or hijacking the agenda.

(4) Relationship Skills–Compelling communication: You put your points in persuasive, clear ways so that people are motivated as well as clear about expectations. Team playing: People feel relaxed working with you. One sign: They laugh easily around you.

So what is leadership? James MacGregor Burns says” When you deal with human beings in leadership situations, you deal with what is essential to the study of leadership, namely, moral and ethical issues. Through the study of lives, one finds out how individuals have confronted specific actions and decisions relating to leaderships positions.

Note carefully what Burns says in his quote—leadership is about moral and ethical issues-thus about the character of the leader.

Graduation Speech— “Four Keys to Success”

Graduation Speech— “Four Keys to Success”

June Blog-deroche@sandiego.edu

GraduationsI’ve been to over fifty and gave a few high school speeches. Many years ago, I gave the “Four Keys” speech. Here is the scene, as I remember it.

A small rural high school. It took longer to drive from home to the school and back than the ceremony itself. Not wanting to go that distance by myself, I invited my family to go with me (my wife and four kids).

I sensed little enthusiasm for this trip. So using one of the politicians’ favorite techniquesthe quid pro quo (they call it the “pay-off”), I made the case: “We won’t be there more than two hours and if they pay me, I will take you to dinner and a movie.” They bought it.

We loaded the four kids into our station wagon (pre-SUV) and off we went with snacks and games. By unanimous decision, they decided to remain in the car during my speech. At that time there were no iPads, iPhonesno Internet. They read a book. They talked to one another. They played games. One of our favorite car games is what we called “What is it? Who is it?”one of our strategies to get the kids into the news of the day.

I gave my twenty-minute speech. In less than two hours, I‘m walking through the parking lot and I hear this loud voice yelling from our car, “Did they pay you?” I smiled, held the envelope overhead and waved it, and off we went to eat and see a movie.

I still have the “Four Keys to Success” speech because I got it published. So, absent of some really relevant stories and a few pithy quotes that I used in the speech, let me outline what I told the students about the “Four Keys to Success”competence, values, teaching, and responsibility.

I defined each starting with competence. I offered them a few examples suggesting that competence in somethingin athletics, in academics, in arts and music, in mechanics, etc.is a good start on the road to being successful.

I pointed out that in the real world competence is not enough. It has to be complimented and underscored by values (today we call these virtues and character strengths). I talk about trust, compassion, and courage. I told the students that a life worth living is built around positive relationships.

I shared this quote with them and recommended that they start off each day with the “I WILL’s.”

I will do the best I can today!

I will treat people as I want to be treated!

I will contribute to the groups that I belong to!

I followed with a description of the remaining two keysteaching and responsibility. I noted that they will find out in the course of their lives that they will be teachers (modeling)what they say, teaches; what they do, teaches; how they interact with others, teaches.

Then I explored the idea of responsibility (respect is implied) noting the three PsPersonal responsibility, Professional responsibility, Public responsibility. I defined each one with a short story or an example. I suggested that successful people carry out their responsibilities by getting involved in thingsby volunteering, by teaching others, by donating their time and talent to help others in their community and among their friends. I offered this quote:

“This is success: to be able to carry money without spending it; to be able to bear an injustice without retaliation; to be able to keep on the job until it is finished; to be able to do one’s duty even when one is not watched; to be able to accept criticism without letting it whip you.”

 I ended the speech by saying: “On the key chain that you will carry around with you after today, remember that there are at least four keys on it that will open up doors or start your engines—they are competence, values, teaching, and responsibility. I wish each of you a great deal of success.”

Now it’s June 2017 and I have been introduced to new ideas about what success is all about by reading Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

She writes about finding one’s potential at school, in the family, and in one’s profession. She said in a recent interview:

A fixed mindset is when people believe their basic qualities, their intelligence, their talents, their abilities, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount, and that’s that. But other people have a growth mindset. They believe that even basic talents and abilities can be developed over time through experience, mentorship, and so on. And these are the people who go for it. They’re not always worried about how smart they are, how they’ll look, what a mistake will mean. They challenge themselves and grow.”

Great stuff to add to each student’s key chain.

 Success can lead to the greatest failure, which is arrogance and pride.

Failure can lead to the greatest success, which is humility and learning.

– David Brooks, NYT Columnist


See my full speech here:





                                                May 2017 Blog  


Many schools and school districts use “VAMP” to frame their character education programs. VAMP is an acronym for the “Virtues- A- Month Program.” VAMP helps all school personnel, students, and parents/guardians focus on a specific virtue. VAMP encourages everyone to be on the same page in the teaching, learning, and practicing of that particular monthly virtue.

The Cobb County Character Education program is an example. Note that the district’s framework is centered on a monthly virtue (RESPECT), then defines elements of the “respect “ (self- respect) and over a 4-week period intending to integrate these “character traits into the total school environment, as well as into the community.”

RESPECT: Showing regard for the worth of someone or something
Week 1 Self-respect* Pride and belief in one’s self and in achievement of one’s potential.
Week 2 Respect for Others* Concern for and motivation to act for the welfare of others.
Week 3 Respect for Authority Respect for those individuals who are in positions of responsibility.
Week 4 Respect for Learning and Punctuality* Appreciation for the importance of and effort involved in acquiring knowledge. Showing high regard for the worth of promptness.


INTEGRITY: Steadfast adherence to a strict code of moral, ethical or artistic values; to consistently be truthful, sincere, and fair. Keeping one’s word.
Week 5 Honesty* Truthfulness and sincerity; free from deception.
Week 6 Trustworthiness Worthy of confidence; reliable; dependable.
Week 7 Self-control The power to direct or regulate your actions and emotions.
Week 8 Justice / Fairness* Correct, proper, and reasonable treatment of behavior and viewpoints of others.


RESPONSIBILITY: Taking care of one’s self and others; to carry out a duty or task carefully and thoroughly
Week 9 Cheerfulness*/
Positive Attitude
Good humored, bright and pleasant. Realistic positive confidence of feeling toward one’s self.
Week 10 Accountability Being responsible for your decisions and actions; dependable.
Week 11 Honor A sense of what is right, just and true; privilege.
Week 12 School Pride / Cleanliness* Care and satisfaction in your school’s environment, achievement and success.


CITIZENSHIP*: Respectful devotion or allegiance to one’s country and/or school
Week 13 Democracy Individual, responsible participation in decision making; government by the people.
Week 14 Patriotism* Respectful devotion or love to one’s country.
Week 15 Service* to Others Useful, usable, and required duty to others.


COMPASSION*: Showing concern or sympathy for others
Week 16 Gratitude A feeling of thankful appreciation for benefits received.
Week 17 Generosity Unselfish willingness to give and share your time and talents in your community.
Week 18 Kindness* Being gentle, willing to help, friendly, courteous, and considerate.


RESILIENCE: The capacity to successfully manage high levels of change
Week 19 Humility Willingness to admit mistakes and take responsibility; not pretentious.
Week 20 Self-confidence / Empowerment Realistic positive attitude about, and trust in one’s self; sense of security, and self-assurance.
Week 21 Flexibility*/ Creativity Adaptability and versatility; clever, imaginative, and inventive.
Week 22 Initiative / Effort Proactive; thinking and taking action on your own; industry.
Week 23 Self-reliance Relying on one’s own abilities, efforts, or judgments.


TOLERANCE*: Consideration for the individual differences, views and beliefs of other people
Week 24 Acceptance Recognition of the diversity of others, their opinions, practices, and culture.
Week 25 Forgiveness Benefiting yourself and others by ceasing to feel resentment towards others.
Week 26 Cooperation*/ Sportsmanship* Working together for a common purpose. The ability to take winning and losing without gloating or complaining.
Week 27 Courtesy / Civility* Polite, civil, and courteous behavior towards others in words and action.


COMMITMENT: The obligation or pledge to carry out some action or to support some policy or person
Week 28 Dedication / Loyalty Sense of commitment and duty.
Week 29 Respect for the Environment* The conservation and care of your surroundings and planet earth.
Week 30 Motivation The desire to move towards a goal.
Week 31 Leadership The ability to take on every task with a sense of purpose and caring for those around them.


ACCOMPLISHMENT: Pride and appreciation for attaining one’s goals
Week 32 Perseverance*` Working hard without giving up.
Week 34 Courage* To meet a challenge without giving in to fear.
Week 35 Patience* / Moderation The power to wait calmly without complaining; avoiding extremes.
Week 36 Wisdom Good judgment; ability to make reasoned decisions; insight.
Week 37 Character Reflect on your Understanding (Thinking), Caring About (Feeling), and Acting Upon (Behavior) in becoming a good example of positive character this year. A summary.
In every high school in Cobb County the Character Education program is supplemented with positive leadership development class called “Principled Thinking,” that focuses on development of positive student leadership skills created “to establish and promote character driven student leaders for the community and school. “

In schools and school district across the country there are variations to the ”Virtues- a –Month” framework or in this case the Cobb County’s “Virtues-a -Week” pattern. For example, many teachers have lessons and activities that encourage students to study and celebrate that month’s holidays or recognition days. For this month that would probably include Cinco De Mayo, National Teacher’s Day, Mother’s day, and Memorial Day.

Edward DeRoche, Ph.D., Character Education Resource Center, Director, University of San Diego —-deroche@sandiego.edu

QUESTION-ASKING: A Few Experiences


April 2017 Blog

Ed DeRoche, Director, Character Education Resource Center

Department of Learning & Teaching, University of San Diego

                        QUESTION-ASKING: A Few Experiences

People will tell you that you have to know math to be a scientist, or physics or chemistry. They’re wrong….Sure, it helps, but there will be a time for that. What comes first is a question, and you are already there. It’s not nearly as involved as people make it out to be.—Hope Jahren (2006), Lab Girl, New York: Knopf, (p.4).

I am a question-asker. All you have to do is ask family members about my “warm and friendly” ways of asking them questions and my shock, at times, about their answers.
Those I have worked with over the years will tell you somewhat the same thing. Last month lunching with two colleagues, they both recalled my habit of saying, “Look just don’t bring me the problems and questions. Also bring me some answers and solutions.”                                                                                                                                        I have three opinions about question asking. One I call the “ownership” — what you ask, you own. The second is the “knowledge expansion” — the more you know, the better the questions; the better the questions the more you will learn about something (including behavior and emotions). The third is my “partnership opinion” — the more you engage others in asking questions and seeking solutions, the better the results—team questions lead to varying viewpoints and wide –ranging responses.

One of the strategies I have taught is called: “Give It Five.” When you have a problem, an issue, a dilemma, a crisis, and/or a conflict, something that requires analysis—lay your hand on it and GIF


I used this strategy when I was a teacher and principal. When a conflict or some other issue occurred between or among students, I would sit them down (now called a ‘time-out’) and ask them to GIF. I did this either by having the involved students write about it and share what they wrote (improved their thinking and writing skills).

Many times I suggested that they talk to one another (no cell phones or texting opportunities in those days.) They had to look at one another-eye to eye – and discuss the incident in a “kind and respectful way”(character development) using the fingers on one of their hands to guide the conversation of a GIF sheet I gave each of them.

            What happened? When did it happen? Where did it happen?

            Who was involved? Why did it happen?

            The palm: How? How are we/you going to solve this problem so that

            it doesn’t happen again?

I think you can see in this and similar strategies that the “exercise” helps students develop their empathic and social skills — active listening, compromise, self-control–as they deal with everyday life in and out of school.

I used GIF many times as a junior high school social studies (civics, current events, citizenship) teacher. To keep my students interested, motivated, and informed my textbook was the daily newspaper. I liked using newspapers so much, I wrote a book about it—Project Update: The Newspaper in the Elementary and Junior High School Classroom.

Generally, we would find articles, editorials, feature stories and “give them five.” After discussion, students would, in their own words, write a summary using the 5 W’s and the H—Who? What? When? Where? Why? & How?

One more strategy using the “hand” for teaching your students the character trait—Caring. Give each student a handout with a copy of a hand on it. Or give them a blank sheet of paper and have them trace their own hand.

Ask them: Think of five ways you could be more helpful to one another. Write out one suggestion on each finger of the hand on your paper using no more than 2-3 words per finger. Next, draw a symbol that is an example of caring on the palm of the hand. Have the students share their work and discuss their symbols. Create a bulletin board labeled CARING HANDS.

I need to make a comment here so that you will understand and appreciate that there is much more to questions asking then I have written about in this blog. You have heard of Bloom’s Taxonomy and his work on levels of questions–

Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation

A.D. Fredericks writes: The six levels of questions are appropriate for all grade levels…. Perhaps most important, students tend to read and think based on the types of questions they anticipate receiving from the teacher. In other words, students will tend to approach any subject as a knowledge-based subject if they are presented with an overabundance of knowledge-level questions throughout a lesson. On the other hand, students will tend to approach a topic at higher levels of thinking if they are presented with an abundance of questions at higher levels of thinking. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Success as a Teacher © 2005 by Anthony D. Fredericks.

https://www.teachervision.com/teaching-methods/new-teacher/48445.html   TeacherVision.com










March 2017 Blog

Edward DeRoche

Three questions: Did you know that there are two types of character- moral character and performance character? Do you know why the two matter? Do you know what schools can do to foster moral and performance character?

I came across the idea of two types of character after reading Lickona and Davidson’s book, Smart & Good High Schools: Integrating Excellence and Ethics for Success in School, Work, and Beyond (www.cortland.edu, 2005). The authors write that performance character is the pathway to excellence and moral character is the pathway to ethical behavior.

Both are captured, according to the authors, in the “8 Strengths of Character: (1) Lifelong learner and critical thinker; (2) Diligent and capable performer; (3) Socially and emotionally skilled person; (4) Ethical thinker; (5) Respectful and responsible moral agent; (6) Self-disciplined person who pursues a healthy lifestyle; (7) Contributing community member and democratic citizen; and (8) Spiritual person engaged in crafting a life of noble purpose.

In 2007, an article appeared in Education Week, November 14, authored by Davidson, Lickona, and Khmelkov. 2007) In which they make the case that “students need performance character (initiative, self-discipline, perseverance, teamwork, and the like) to do their best academic work; (and) … moral character (respect, fairness, kindness, honesty, and so forth) to build the relationships that make for a positive learning environment.”

Several months ago, I came across a “position paper,” published in 2008, by the Character Education Partnership, now called “character. org.” Why I just found it is anyone’s guess.

The paper is found here and titled “Performance Values” Why They Matter and What Schools Can Do to Forster Their Development.” (http://www.character.org) The paper describes the “role of work in a life of character.” The authors explore the answer to the question: Where do we learn to care we learn about the quality of our work and to develop= skills to do it well?” Their answer: “To a large extent in school.”

They discuss the role of work, the idea that we need to expand our views of character; they examine the research and then conclude with ten practices that will “shape a school and peer- group culture.

I like the view that moral and performance character “mutually supportive.

“The moral aspects, besides enabling us to treat each other with fairness, respect and care, ensure that we pursue our performance goals in ethical rather than unethical ways…. The performance aspects of our character…enable us to act on our moral values and make a positive difference in the world.”

The caveat! Dr. Thomas Lickona, Professor of Education, Emeritus and Director, Center for the 4th and 5th Rs at SUNY- Cortland is a developmental psychologist and educator who has spent more than four decades helping parents and schools foster good character in youth.

Dr. Lickona will be present on this topic at CERC’s summer conference on June 22, 2017 (charactermatters2017.eventbrite.com)

The title of his presentation is “Moral Character, Performance Character, and Social-Emotional Skills:

Why Kids Need All Three—and How to Foster Their Development.”


                         Can’t wait—I have questions!



Qualities of Character and Leadership

Qualities of Character and Leadership

February 2017 Blog

Edward DeRoche

In this blog, I want to look at the qualities of presidential character and leadership as noted by scholars in the field and relate them to my experiences with character educators.

There are four presidential birthdays this month – George Washington, William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan. We celebrate Presidents’ Day on Monday the 20th (another three-day weekend of sales and bargains!).

Several years ago, I wrote an article, published in the San Diego Union–Tribune (February 20, 2006), celebrating Presidents’ Day. The article focused on the character strengths and leadership styles of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, both of whom exemplified most or all of the qualities that follow.

Historian Robert Dallek (Frontline, PBS.org) suggests five qualities of successful presidents:

  • vision –a clear idea of where he will lead the nation;
  • realist or pragmatist with a sense of optimism;
  • a national consensus;
  • a personal connection with the people;
  • credibility – earned trust.

Implied in Dalleks’s five qualities is what Zenger and Folkman (The Extraordinary Leader) call “character”…”the core of leadership effectiveness.”

Princeton University professor Fred Greenstein (The Presidential Difference) offers six qualities related to the leadership styles and performances of presidents. Note the additional qualities of “cognitive style” and “emotional intelligence.”

  • public communication
  • organizational capacity
  • political skill
  • vision
  • cognitive style
  • emotional intelligence

 Daniel Goleman, (Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence), calls for leaders to identify and monitor their emotions — “your own and others. ’’ He highlights self-awareness, self-management, empathy (cognitive and emotional), and relationship skills as the keys factors to emotional intelligence.

If historians studied the work of character educators, what qualities might they discover about these leaders?

 The first, I think, is that they would use the word missionaries in the most positive sense of the word. Go back five or six decades – track the character education thrust in this nation and those leading it. You will see why I suggest the word missionary. I fought the temptation to name names and efforts. I may save that for a future blog.

 Another quality that I have witness is that past and current character educators are a knowledge source and provider.

 They know and understand the history, the stories, the successes and failures of efforts to implement character education in schools and address the moral and ethical development of the young. They know about best practices. They are tuned-in to the commercialism that has developed around character education. They have access to and willingly share information about programs, curricular, and instructional materials. They clearly understand and provide the major resources needed for the character education program development, including teacher training, curriculum, special projects, student needs, parent initiatives, and evaluation efforts.

A third quality, as I see it, is that character educators are communicators, collaborators, and consensus- builders.

Character educators are the voices for their programs. They keep parents, the public, the press, and their colleagues informed of the efforts to achieve the goals of the program. They understand that effective internal and external communication helps build confidence, engender support, and encourage participation.

My experience with character educators is that they value collaboration – helping stakeholders clarify roles and responsibilities, encouraging them to build trusting relationships, enabling them to celebrate achievements and willingly correct mistakes.

As consensus-builders, character educators bring state mandates, education codes, virtues that emanate from our founding documents, and values identified by other schools and school districts to inform the discussion.

Historians would discover that character educators are stand-bearers. They bear witness to the proposition that there is more to educating children and youth than learning subject matter and increasing test scores. They value standard-driven character education programs that are comprehensive and well organized, that promote standards for the character education curriculum, and they favor partnership standards that will offer parents and others with full-service opportunities to help meet students’ physical, social, and emotional needs.

Another quality – character educators are researchers and evaluators. I have yet to meet a character educator who is not interested in the effectiveness of their efforts. They want to know what’s working and not working and why? They value, understand, and use research. Their questions: How does this research inform our practices? What is the best way to share the research with others?

What strikes me about their interest in evaluating character education programs and personnel is their thrust to create a culture of data-driven improvement. One recent example – several inquiries about using student survey data to better understand students’ in and out of the classroom experiences and behaviors.

Like most effective leaders, character educators have a vision about the future, about possibilities, about what might be for educating children and youth, about the balance between testing and teaching, about being smart and good. They ask themselves: who are we (character and values), how do we perform (skills and talents), and how shall we lead (sharing, partnerships, team-building).

As one writer put it: “One of the secrets of leadership is to see where the parade is headed and rush in front of it before it gets there. “

Effective presidents and character educators do this.






                           CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

        Relationships, Efficiency, Communication

                      January 2017 Blog

                    Edward DeRoche

         National data show that one in five new teachers will leave the classroom within five years; in urban districts, that number jumps to nearly 50%. 

 Last semester CERC co-sponsored a monthly seminar with the Department of Learning and Teaching faculty that we called “Teacher-Teaching Connections.” The series was offered to all students in the teacher education program, those doing student teaching, cooperating teachers, and staff members.

About seventy people attended each of the three programs .

The 2-hour program included a short reception, a half-hour presentation by the CERC staff, and a one-hour presentation offered by a veteran teacher in the public schools.

Listening carefully to the students’ questions, it was clear to me that many, if not most, were concerned about the many aspects of classroom management.

So, this month’s blog is for you—training to be a teacher, doing student teaching, entering the second half of your first year as a teacher, and those of you in your early years of teaching looking for practical, helpful, relevant classroom management tips.

Classroom Management: The Intervention Two-Step

All of us have had major classroom disruptions that try our patience and push our limits….. Couple these feelings with the possibility of taking the disruption personally, and we have a recipe for disaster. It’s important that we divide our response into two parts: (1) Immediate stabilization and (2) Intervention to resolve these issues.   …Minor inappropriate behavior does not require the two-step, but  when it is required, let’s see how to do it:

  • Understand that stabilizing is not excusing, letting the student get away with anything or ignoring. It is deferring the actual  intervention to a more favorable time.
  • Show the student that you’re willing to hear his or her side of the story.
  • Guess the motive for the misbehavior, and acknowledge it without agreeing to the student’s choice of a solution.
  • Deflect attempts to argue.
  • Use humor.

                                                       Dr. Richard Curwin’s Blog, February 4, 2014


Three Things New Teachers Need To Know About Classroom Management

  1. Teach Time-Saving Routines and Procedure Veteran teachers spend the first two weeks of the year  teaching routines and procedures, so the rest of the year runs   They teach routines like any other lesson, with  modeling, guided practice,  and independent application.
  2. Balance Rules with Relationships …Some teachers struggled because they hadn’t balanced           clear rules with showing they cared for students.. I helped them realize they could hold students accountable for doing      work, but also reach out to them when they were having a  bad day. When they gave a kid a consequence, I made sure they greeted them the next day with a smile and a “glad to have you back.”
  3. Plan to Maximize Student Thinking Time Double Plan: Make a lesson plan in two columns — one for what you would do and one for what the students would do.  Substitute the time you spend explaining what a text means, with them reading it and debating the meaning. Don’t “turn     it over” to students without making clear expectations for voice level, who they are working with, and the assignment.Behavior actually improved because they were no longer expected to sit passively, they were actively learning.                     Ryan McCarty, October, 2, 2014,        http://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2014/10/02/classroom-management-3-things/


5 -Keys to Creating Independent Learners         

1. MotivationOne’s motivation to attempt a task is based on  a calculation of meaning, relevance, and perceived chance for success.                                                                                                                    

2. EngagementA school culture focused on engagement will  attempt to change student behavior by designing learning experiences that are better attuned to students’ need to engage in             meaningful work and solve problems that are relevant to their lives. .

3. Self-EfficacyA school culture that values self-efficacy will teach students that patience, persistence, and strategy are more important than innate intelligence.

4. Ownership – … A culture that values ownership will provide  students with choices about what they will learn, give students the  opportunity to determine evidence of their learning, and take the       time to teach students how to accurately assess—and revise—their own work.

5. IndependenceThe journey from dependence to independence  requires students to be the active agents in curriculum, instruction, and assessment.                                                                                                                  Tony Frontier is a member of the ASCD Professional Learning         Services and coauthor of Five Levers to Improve Learning: How   to Prioritize for Powerful Results in Your School (ASCD, 2014).

The Dos and Don’ts of Classroom Management: Your 25 Best Tips                   

“I am a soon to be new teacher and really appreciated this collection  of do’s and don’ts of classroom management. For me classroom  management does not intimidate me as it does for most new             teachers. I have been an after-school counselor for 6 years so have  learned some of these techniques along the way. I believe that there is one big thing to make sure you are able to manage your class and   that is creating that relationship with your students.”                                                                                                               —– A teacher from Texas                        https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/dos-and-donts-classroom-           management-your-25-best-tips?

 NOTE: CERC offers two ONLINE ONLY elective courses for undergraduate and graduate students:

Spring 2017: Educ 354/554 Character-based Classroom   Management: Principles, Practices, and Policies (3)

Summer 2017:Educ 379/579 Social-Emotional Learning & Teaching: Home, School, Work (3) — Monday , June 5   through Friday, August 25