The Character Education Program is the foundation of the education program at Constellation Schools. Character education, or the teaching of community and societal values, is integrated throughout all curriculum areas and is specially designed to ensure students learn appropriate behavior in addition to developing good character. Helping children develop values such as honesty, courage, respect, cooperation, and dependability is as important as teaching them to read or how to cross the street safely. Each school’s character education component is constantly monitored, evaluated, and upgraded to ensure students are exposed to the most comprehensive program possible.
Character education is the development of knowledge, skills, and abilities that encourage the learners to make informed and responsible choices. The values we teach children are their best protection from the influences of peer pressure, the violence that permeates our society, and the temptations of a consumer culture. Character education enables students to come face to face with the realities of life and it teaches them to think critically and act responsibly. With their own values clearly defined, children can make their own decisions and they are equipped to make better decisions.
The focus of the character education program is on developing positive behaviors, which reflect widely accepted community values. By concentrating on specific areas of character development, children are provided with ample opportunities to learn, understand, and practice each trait, both in school and at home. The character traits are broader than their titles and contain many facets. These character traits are not hierarchical or bound by sequence; each is equally important. Often when examining one value, others come into play. The important concept is that students obtain a clearer understanding of each value, and thus obtain a clearer understanding of right and wrong, acceptable behavior, and good citizenship.
To be effective, character education cannot be an “add on” to a curriculum – it must be integrated throughout the curriculum, extra-curricular activities, and social interactions that occur among all members of the school community. This method makes character education more meaningful and provides children with opportunities to see the importance of good character traits in many settings and circumstances. Character education centers around the development of the whole child in an educational climate that nurtures academic success through teaching respect and self-esteem. Students engage in a variety of experiential learning activities that include cooperative learning, role playing, creative thinking, problem-solving, and conflict resolution strategies. The “good” character traits, or “values,” are reinforced at each grade level through materials that relate to lessons learned in prior years, but which go more in depth each year.
Goals of Character Education. The expectations and goals for the Character Education Program are quite simple:
- Develop a caring school community that promotes and models the core values
- Create a staff with an understanding of its role as character educators and the skills necessary to foster character development in students
- Develop students that learn about, understand, practice, and model core values and positive character traits
Character Education Slogan
Constellation Schools has adopted the following Character Education slogan. This slogan is displayed prominently in each school and each classroom.
We All Have Choices,
Choices Have Consequences,
Be Smart and Make the Right Choice!
Visual Representations of Positive Character Traits
Each school will continuously display multiple representations of the character traits and values that are important in the school community. Each month teachers will display:
- Banners with the character trait/value of the month
- Banners with messages relating to the character trait/value of the month
- Bulletin boards focusing on the values
- Newsletters with stories relating to the appropriate character trait
The following character traits are presented and developed:
Be sympathetic, empathetic, and understanding toward the needs and feelings of others. Show you care about others through kindness and sharing.
- COOPERATION/GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP
Work together for a common purpose; the ability to take winning or losing without gloating or complaining. Be disciplined and exercise self-control.
The willingness to face obstacles and challenges with determination.
Work hard without giving up in a careful, consistent manner. Always do your best. Keep trying, don’t quit or give up easily.
Be truthful and just. Listen to others and try to understand what they are saying and feeling. Be sincere, don’t deceive, mislead or be devious or tricky. Don’t betray a trust, steal or cheat.
Be faithful to a person, a team, your country or an idea. Don’t talk behind someone’s back, spread rumors or engage in gossip. Don’t violate other ethical principles to keep or win a friendship or gain approval. Don’t ask a friend to do something wrong.
Demonstrate your rights and privileges as a citizen of the United States as well as the school and community. Obey laws, respect authority, and play by the rules. Be charitable and altruistic.
For Others: Judge all people on their merits. Demonstrate tolerance and patience for the individual differences, views, and beliefs of others. Don’t abuse, demean, or mistreat, manipulate, exploit or take advantage of others. For Self: Proper satisfaction in your accomplishments and achievements. Demonstrate a positive opinion of oneself. Working to ones best ability.
Demonstrate polite, well-mannered behavior towards others.
Carry out a duty or task carefully and thoroughly. Be a person others can count on, depend on or trust. Consider possible consequences before you act. Don’t make excuses or blame others. Set a good example for others.
Role of Principal
The principal is the primary driving force of the Character Education Program. Just as the principal ensures the academic curriculum is being followed, the principal provides overall leadership for the faculty, staff and students. The principal creates and chairs the character education planning committee for the school. The principal uses the first staff meeting of each month as a “kick-off” for the character trait of the month, and provides opportunities for staff to share character education ideas and successes.
Role of Teachers
Teachers, like parents, provide role models for children. To be effective, teachers must provide impeccable examples for their students and help create a caring classroom community. Teachers treat students with respect, encouraging good behavior, and correcting improper behavior. They act as facilitators ensuring that discussions run smoothly. Teachers:
- Introduce the lesson/topic
- Avoid indicating personal bias concerning the topic
- Attempt to include all students in the discussion
- Prevent any one member of the class from dominating the discussion
- Ask questions to stimulate group members to explore other points of view
- At the conclusion of the discussion, review the various points of view
- Assist students in understanding more clearly the benefits of making informed and responsible choices
- Encourage students to explore a variety of problem-solving techniques as alternatives to antisocial behavior
In addition, teachers discuss character issues in class as they relate to the various subjects being taught, and integrate character lessons into the existing curriculum, as opportunities arise, using cooperative learning, class meetings, personal reflection journals, role playing, cooperative projects, debate and discussion, and Character Education Curriculum.
Focusing on one character trait each month allows teachers to intertwine character development through all phases of the daily routine. The character traits must be emphasized in each classroom in order to reach every child. Specific classroom activities should include, but not be limited to:
- Conscious implementation of strategies designed to develop character
- Modeling of appropriate behavior
- Exhortations on the traits and behaviors related to the traits
- Use of literature that has themes related to the traits
- Democratic classroom practices
Role of Parents
Parents are an essential part of every child’s character development. Parents provide the first opportunity for children to learn “right and wrong” and “good and bad.” It is important for parents to continue to play this role throughout the development of their children. Parents are an integral part of the Character Education Program at Constellation Schools and should expect to fully participate in the education of their children. Parents attend Parent Education events so that they may develop a full understanding of the program and policies of the school, and how they can reinforce the curriculum.