Director’s Corner – Focusing on Character at all Levels
If you are familiar with this newsletter, you know we are big fans of the idea that every element of a program’s success starts at the top. Building a robust character education program is no exception. Members of leadership set the tone for the entire program community. Just as teachers must model important character traits and values for children, leaders must embody the character traits that are important to the program at all times.
Consider how the program recognizes and appreciates its team members. For example, there is a difference between:
Shouting “Thanks for turning in your lesson plan” to a teacher as they are walking out the door
Asking them to stop in the office and sharing heartfelt acknowledgment of their efforts.
Leaders should think about ways that they demonstrate character to their staff, families, and children; this includes in person, in written communication, and as part of their online presence. Which character traits are important to the program and how is this information conveyed to others?
- Are these traits woven into the program’s mission statement? The website? Social media posts?
- How does the program prioritize the purchase of materials related to character education in the budget?
- How does the program align new staff members to these character traits during orientation?
- Are the valued character traits evident in performance evaluations and other program documentation?
Highlighting character education activities and opportunities for families helps create consistency between home and school. Taking that a step further, programs could send a survey to families, asking them to identify or rank the character traits that are most important to them. The program can then use that information to make decisions about the traits to prioritize. The same survey can be completed by teachers as a way to gather their feedback on the topic.
Members of leadership can pick a character trait each week (or month) to focus on as they interact with families and staff members. This can either be announced ahead of time or creatively turned into a game, where at the end of the week/month families and staff can try to guess which trait was the focus of the period. Prizes can be awarded.
Contests can also be organized to recognize families and teachers for demonstrating excellent character. Nominations can be submitted for selection to be recognized on a display in the lobby. Leaders could also collect reports of positive character traits being used, then pick winners at random. Reports can be submitted by families, children, and other team members. Prizes don’t have to be big, and in many cases, acknowledgment is all that is necessary.
Using this top-down approach can lead to a unified team that understands the behaviors and actions that are valued at every level of interaction, which is an admirable accomplishment for any early learning program.
For the main article Strengthening Character Traits, CLICK HERE
For the Exploring Character Traits, CLICK HERE
For the article Recognizing Character Traits, CLICK HERE
For the article Practicing Character Traits, CLICK HERE