Tag Archives: schools

May I Ask You Some Questions?

This blog, as you will note, begins with two quotes that will frame the questions that are constantly raised when we talk about character and character education with educators and others.

“Students who can effectively manage their emotions and behavior tend to do better in their coursework and on assessments.  In fact, students who report high self-management are 75 percent less likely to face failing grades than students who report low self-management.           
Panorama Research Team 

Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character (2012), suggests that what matters to children and youth is adults’ (home, school, community) abilities to “nurture the development of a very different set of qualities, a list that includes persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit, and self-confidence.  Economists refer to these qualities as non-cognitive skills, psychologists call them personality traits, and the rest of us think of these traits as character.”  

What do we know about character?

There are no character genes—character is taught to the young by social media, the Internet, the environment they live in, their peers and role models, and hopefully by parents, teachers, schools, youth agencies, and religious institutions.

  • Character is about strengths and virtues that guide an individual “to act in an ethical, pro-social manner.”
  • Character is about choices—the ones we make daily (good or bad, ethical or unethical).  It is about decision-making—the circumstances, the risks, the chances, the consequences, and the rewards.
  • Character is about relationships and social skills—skills such as sharing, participating, following directions, and listening.  It is learning how to be a friend, how to care for others, how to appreciate others, how to be polite, respectful, courteous, and how to resolve conflicts peacefully.
  • Character is about “emotional” self-discipline. 

To assist administrators, teachers, and others in schools, we offer nine questions about character education that address the WHAT and HOW.

1. What is the environment/climate of the school and what should it be? 

Our answer is that at the very least it should be: Safe – Caring – Civil – Challenging – Empowering.

2. What outcomes do school personnel, parents, and students desire for students who have attended the school for three or four years?

Our answer is this question should be based on at least three categories: character, career, and citizenship.

3. What are the character traits/virtues that should permeate the curricula and co-curricula programs at the school? 

The answer to this question must be a list agreed upon by the school’s stakeholders and incorporated into the mission of the school.

4. What thinking, communication, and social skills should permeate all subjects, programs, and instruction? 

5. What special/intervention programs should be implemented to promote the character development of students, to enhance their social and emotional skills, and to foster their leadership and citizenship skills?

6. What must school personnel do to be sure that all school stakeholders are on the same page relative to the answers to the questions above?

7. What are the EXPECTATIONS for students regarding their behaviors?

8. What are the EXPECTATIONS regarding relationships at your school?

  • Students and students / students and parents / adult and students?  
  • Teachers and parents / teachers and parents and administrators? School and community?

9. How will school personnel (all stakeholders) know that their efforts to do the above have paid-off?

  • How will programs and efforts be assessed?
  • How will students’ academic, social, emotional, and character behaviors and actions be assessed and evaluated?

Then we are always asked –Do character education initiatives work?

A national survey and report (Character.org) described three essential life-long skills that must be taught to children and young adults.  

  1. “Social skills and awareness (e.g., communications skills, active listening, relationship skills, assertiveness, social awareness). 
  2. Personal improvement/Self-management and awareness (e.g., self-control, goal setting, relaxation techniques, self-awareness, emotional awareness). 
  3. Problem-solving/Decision-making.” 

The report states: “They found that schools that score higher on implementation of a variety of character education aspects also have higher state achievement scores.  Most notably, such higher scores were most consistently and strongly related to the following four aspects of character education: 

  1. Parent and teacher modeling of character and promotion of character education;.
  2. Quality opportunities for students to engage in service activities;
  3. Promoting a caring community and positive social relationships; and 
  4. Ensuring a clean and safe physical environment.”

“The aim of education is not the knowledge of facts but of values.” —Dean William R. Inge

Ed DeRoche, Director, Character Education Resource Center, University of San Diego 

November, 2019




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.