Week 1 – Character Compass – Moral Character

Initial Post (Due Friday)

The text for this course, Character Compass: How Powerful School Culture Can Point Students toward Success (Seider, 2012), focuses on the approaches to character education taken by three schools in the Boston area. These schools have an explicit, intentional commitment to the character education of their students. However, what makes this intriguing is that each has defined its focus in distinct ways that are having a real impact on what skills their students develop as a result of that prioritization. While it is not surprising to consider that what is taught explicitly is learned better than what is not, this puts more attention on the choices you make as a teacher. Lickona’s (Lyon, 2009) assertion: “Children need to form caring attachments to adults. These caring relationships will foster both the desire to learn and the desire to be a good person” challenges one’s teaching practice.

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Based on your reading of the introduction to the text, as well as the chapters on the moral education at Boston Prep and Character Compass review, develop an essay response by addressing the following:

  • What is one idea you can or would take from Boston Prep’s work to apply to your own classroom, school, or professional context? Why?
  • Share your experience with a teacher who took a moral approach to the character education they embodied in the classroom or in a coaching position.
    • An effective caregiver
    • A moral model; and/or
    • An ethical mentor
  • How has this teacher impacted your own practice as an educator regarding your responsibilities for character education?
  • What is one question you still have about teaching moral character according to the Boston Prep approach and the modeling you had?

Support your statements with evidence from the required studies and your research. Cite and reference your sources in APA style.

Peer Responses (Due Saturday)

Read your classmates’ post. Respond substantively to three of your peers. Ask questions about moral character teaching practices to gain ideas and strategies for the classroom use that will enable you to transform into a moral character role model for your students. Support your statements with evidence from the required studies, other research, and experiences. You are required to respond to comments or questions about your posts.

References

Lyon. (2009). Raising good children – Character education talk in Singapore 2 [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNoWSpYHJf8

Seider, S. (2012). Character compass: How powerful school culture can point students towards success. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

>> 1st Classmate Post

Boston Prep exhibits exemplary work in its devotion to developing moral character.  The variety of methods they implement that constitute the sequential approach (Seider, 2012) to character development has had a significant impact on ensuring that students exhibit the five virtues that serve as the foundation of student success, especially integrity (Seider, 2012).  The community meeting is the method that I am most interested in applying at my school.  What stood out to me most is how the meeting is utilized as a means to model the virtues they want students to exhibit. The sole purpose of the “MCAS Legacy” (Seider, 2012) game show was to model the character traits that would allow students to be successful.  Students are able to witness teachers be a part of character education in a non-traditional yet humorous manner in addition to seeing the upperclassmen working with the teachers to develop lessons that would best engage and teach the virtues. 

I am interested in incorporating the community meeting because I feel that it is a means to ensure that character development is being taught as well as exhibit model behavior to the entire student body to reveal the importance of character education to our school community.  As I am sure it is in most middle schools, character education is addressed once a week during the “Enrichment” block of instruction.  At Dutchmen Creek middle school, the lesson for the week is developed by the school instructional coach and is delivered to teachers to teach on Monday morning via email.  There is no system of ensuring that each teacher actually teaches the lesson.  If asked, I’m sure most teachers would respond that if there is something more important such as an assessment or to prep for end of year tests, they would skip the character education lesson in order to continue to teach their subject. Modeling character is a necessity.  Furthermore, Lickona mentions that students who do not have adults to model moral character tend to struggle with coping mechanisms (2003).

When I was in the 10th grade, I met the wonderful Kathy Kinsey, my 10th grade chorus teacher.  She definitely fit the embodiment of the effective caregiver.  She came into my life during a rough period, but her constant concern and words of wisdoms provided me with attention and the belief that despite your lot in life, your future is determined by you and the empathy you give to others.  She cared for my wellbeing and provided me support to persevere when things got tough. Mrs. Kinsey has impacted by practice regarding character education by forcing me to reinforce to students that your future is set by you and modeling the characteristics I want to instill within them. 

Boston Prep is a charter school that is successful in utilizing moral character traits to impact student achievement.  I would be curious to know if this success is tied to the size of the student body.  How did the push back by the senior class in regards to the Honor Statement impact the integrity of the community meetings?

Lickona, T. (2003). The content of our character. Retrieved from http://character education.info/Articles/TheContentofOurCharacter.pdf

Seider, S. (2012). Character compass: How powerful school culture can point students toward success. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

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