I was recently at a conference on Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) and was able to hear long-time Educational Consultant Randy Sprick present. Randy Sprick is an educational consultant and trainer in Eugene, Oregon who was the primary author of Safe and Civil Schools. I was inspired by Randy’s wealth of knowledge and ability to give practical and helpful tips for teachers and administrators to implement immediately in their classroom and schools.
One analogy that Randy provided really stuck with me. He mentioned how hospitals each year have to find new and creative ways to remind surgeons to wash their hands. The studies show that if hospitals do not regularly remind doctors to wash their hands, only approximately 50% would do so. We also know that if surgeons don’t wash their hands, the chance for infection and death increase dramatically for that patient. If surgeons have to be reminded to wash their hands, we definitely need to remind ourselves of the importance to intentionally build our character. We need to be reminded more than we need to be taught and so do our students.
“If surgeons have to be reminded to wash their hands, we definitely need to remind ourselves of the importance to intentionally build our character. We need to be reminded more than we need to be taught and so do our students.”
We know from the research of psychologist, Angela Duckworth, that it is actually character traits like grit and self-control that are higher indicators of success than a student’s grade point average, IQ, or SAT score. We need to teach both academics and character to our students. We need to find ways to remind them daily about what good character looks like. At CharacterStrong it is a core belief that students want to do good, they just don’t always know what good looks like.
To do this we need to provide training, ideas, and most importantly a solid example of what strong character looks like. We need to present our students with a consistent and predictable environment that they can count on. We need to grant teachers the training needed to be successful in building positive relationships and managing a classroom in a proactive way, since so much of our time is spent reacting. Many schools measure the climate and culture of a building using questions about a student's feeling of whether there is at least one caring adult in the school that believes in them. What is your school doing to intentionally teach the whole child? What are you doing?
“In order to develop normally, a child requires activity with one or more adults who have an irrational emotional relationship with the child. Somebody’s got to be crazy about that kid. That’s number one, first, last, and always. -Urie Bronfenbrenner Co-founder of Head Start”
To learn more about how to intentionally teach, reinforce and model strong character traits visit www.characterstrong.com/educators to learn more about our CharacterStrong Educator Trainings.
John Norlin is a Co-Founder of CharacterStrong, a Servant Leadership trainer, and motivational speaker. He was Washington Advisor of the Year, taught 5 leadership classes per semester for 10 years at Sumner High School, and was a Program Administrator for the Whole Child for five years.