Encouraging Good Character on the First Day: 3 ways to prepare your classroom for excellence

Character education rests on a simple principle: actions matter. In our day-to-day lives, acts of good character can benefit the self and others. Agreeing on that should be easy. What’s next is more difficult. How can we, as education professionals, help schools improve as environments that nurture character development? If you haven’t recently read How Children Succeed, … Continue reading “Encouraging Good Character on the First Day: 3 ways to prepare your classroom for excellence”

Professional Development at The National Forum on Character Education

How do we build caring and productive communities?

Maintaining the Connection between Moral and Performance Character

by David B. Wangaard, Ed.D., The School for Ethical Education Character.org has many resources that provide a clear definition of character education and effective practices. It is not unusual, however, to find varying interpretations by educators. Specifically, the distinction between moral and performance character has created a division within the field of character education. Some educators … Continue reading “Maintaining the Connection between Moral and Performance Character”

Using Advisory Effectively: A Case Study

By Sarah Novick Advisory can be a great vehicle to implement character education.  I recently had the privilege of getting to know students, teachers, teacher-advisors, and administrators involved with revamping an advisory program at San Francisco University High School (SFUHS). For about 20 years SFUHS had an advisory period in its schedule. When I got … Continue reading “Using Advisory Effectively: A Case Study”

Character Education—Comprehensive, Intentional and Proactive

By Becky Sipos  At Liberty Corner Elementary School (NJ), students know the focus is not only on academics, but also on how they are going to leave the school as a person. That focus apparently is working. Comments from the middle school say that “the Liberty Corner School kids are the most well-rounded, best kids … Continue reading “Character Education—Comprehensive, Intentional and Proactive”

The Magic of Camp

by Matthew Smith “Notes on Camp” is one of my favorites episodes of the NPR show This American Life. That’s probably not surprising since I run a leadership camp for teens. Host Ira Glass explains the purpose of the program: Today on our program, we try to bridge the gap between camp people and non-camp … Continue reading “The Magic of Camp”

Not Divergent: Easily Measuring Students’ Character

“So what makes you such a big deal?” asked Garen, the blunt 8th grader. I’m not exactly a rock star. I was speaking at his school about my tool that measures character strengths: the Character Growth Index (CGI).  I found Garen’s question entertaining.  “I developed CGI to see if you are ‘DIVERGENT’!”  His eyes bugged … Continue reading “Not Divergent: Easily Measuring Students’ Character”

Connecting Character and Content

by Gary Smit Finding time for building character in schools and in students within the context of the academic curriculum can be a challenge. Since school is the first social structure the child encounters, the setting provides an excellent opportunity for character building. However, this must be more than a poster on the wall, a … Continue reading “Connecting Character and Content”

Why We Don’t Have the Smartest Kids (or Best Schools) in the World

by Rebecca Bauer When I began reading The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley, I had no idea that a book could be so inspiring and depressing at the same time. After discovering America’s average scores on the international PISA tests, Ripley started to wonder what factors contributed to a country’s success. Why … Continue reading “Why We Don’t Have the Smartest Kids (or Best Schools) in the World”

Teacher Leadership: Opportunities for your own Moral Action

As teachers think about the 11 Principles, it can be easy to focus solely on the students. Helping students to become smart and good citizens is the ultimate goal of character education, but helping teachers become smart and good citizens is an essential part of the process. What you do as a teacher matters even … Continue reading “Teacher Leadership: Opportunities for your own Moral Action”

Starting Your Character Education Journey

By Becky Sipos, President & CEO For me, the New Year always brings an attitude of fresh start along with a reflection on accomplishments or disappointments of the past year. Pick up any magazine and you can see the imperatives: Lose 10 pounds in two weeks, plan more nutritious meals, get fit in only 15-minutes … Continue reading “Starting Your Character Education Journey”

Resource Roundup: Creating Caring & Kind Classrooms

We want every classroom to be a caring and kind one. Unfortunately, with the emphasis on literacy and math, encouraging good character isn’t always seen as a priority. We want to re-energize you in your pursuit to help every child develop empathy and consideration for others. We’ve listed some of the best resources for creating … Continue reading “Resource Roundup: Creating Caring & Kind Classrooms”

The Classroom as a Caring Community

by Hal Urban     I was a social studies teacher in a public high school for 36 years. I loved every minute of it! Well, at least almost every minute. In all honesty, my teaching career started out wonderfully, and got better each year.  I’m convinced that the key was good relationships. I was taught on my first … Continue reading “The Classroom as a Caring Community”

Annie Fox Addresses Bullying Issues in “Whose Kids Are These Anyway”

When it comes to bullying prevention, teachers handle concerns from parents, demands from administrators and regulations from their local and federal governments, all while educating a group of 20 or so young students. Rather than simply providing them resources and telling them to solve the problem, it is important to also stress, they are not … Continue reading “Annie Fox Addresses Bullying Issues in “Whose Kids Are These Anyway””

Proactive Approaches to Bullying Prevention: Two Schools Share Their Success

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr. Bullying Prevention  goes hand in hand with honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who stood up for what he believed in, even when that was a very difficult thing to do. Martin Luther King Jr. serves as an exemplar for students who … Continue reading “Proactive Approaches to Bullying Prevention: Two Schools Share Their Success”

Ferguson—How do you teach when hearts are hurting?

While the world is watching Ferguson, disturbed by the violence, disturbed by the grand jury’s ruling, disturbed by the very disparate responses that all seem to be colored by race, I was brought back to my teaching roots and empathized with all of the classroom teachers struggling with how to deal with this issue.

Integrating Character Across Subjects

“Beyond Accountability, Inspiring Greatness,” the theme of the CEP’s 2014 National Forum on Character Education. As human beings, we all have sufferings: some of them are physical; some emotional; some are moral issues; and some are health problems. But no matter what our circumstances are, we can bring out our character and be as great of … Continue reading “Integrating Character Across Subjects”

Can Educators Actually Assess a Student’s Character?

  From my work as a superintendent, a headmaster and as the the U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Education, I found that assessing our students’ character was overlooked much of the time. Yet, there are such strong reasons to assess students’ character in a more formal way, such as establishing consistent standards, students having knowledge of … Continue reading “Can Educators Actually Assess a Student’s Character?”

Why Character Matters

“Nearly every parent on earth operates on the assumption that character matters a lot to the life outcomes of their children. Nearly every government antipoverty program operates on the assumption that it doesn’t.” – David Brooks, New York Times columnist and 2013 CEP Forum keynote speaker. David Brooks wrote a recent column about the importance of character … Continue reading “Why Character Matters”

How Are Social-Emotional Learning and the Common Core Connected?

By Maurice Elias, Professor, Rutgers University Psychology Department In September, 2013, the Education Advisory Council of the Character Education Partnership published a white paper titled, “Integrating Common Core and Character Education: Why It Is Essential and How It Can Be Done.” Kristin Fink and Karen Geller, acclaimed educators both, co-chaired the process and I asked … Continue reading “How Are Social-Emotional Learning and the Common Core Connected?”


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