There are two times of the year that I would find myself sitting and reflecting on my classroom atmosphere more than any other time–the beginning of the year and the end of the year. Year after year a goal of mine was to do more celebrating of character in my classroom. At the end of the day, I knew that sending my students out as little people who displayed quality character was more important than them mastering 9+4. I wanted our classroom to be celebrating character!
Here are three reasons that celebrating character in the classroom is important.
1.It helps build a tight-knit classroom community.
Anytime I gathered my students and told them that something was great, wonderful and we would celebrate it, instantly we were all on the same team and working toward the same goal. Whether that be mastering our sight words or celebrating because we were respectful to the guest speaker, when they knew that something made my heart go pitter-patter, they were determined to work together and make that happen. When we celebrated we built a more tight-knit community.
2. In a world of Kardashians, quality character is rare.
In our crazy world, experiencing kind, respectful, thoughtful people just isn’t a common thing or praised enough. Teaching our little learners how to be genuine and how important it is not only to the other person, but also to them because it makes them a better person, can never be taught enough. Ever. If we want to have kind people around, we have to teach it and celebrate it!
3. The more we highlight it, the more it will sink in.
As with all things, the more we praise a positive choice or behavior, the more we will see of that particular choice or behavior. I strived really hard on a day-to-day basis to say “I noticed….” and then point out a positive character trait that was displayed that day. I might have said, “I noticed that Ben was helpful today in gathering the balls from the playground as the bell rang.” or “I noticed that Katrina is responsible when I saw her put her folder away in her backpack immediately so that she does not lose it.” or even “I noticed Jake was being honest today when he found a pencil on the floor and turned it into the lost and found.” I highlighted it as much as possible and praised them. Not only would they learn what I would expect of them, but they got a “warm fuzzy” as they were praised for non-academic things in our classroom.
Our Favorite Way to Celebrate
In my classroom, I loved to highlight students and their work with our author’s chair at writing time. The student that I choose for that day would share their writing and then we would say three appreciations for them and their writing. Three things we noticed about their writing that was fabulous. At first this would be “You drew a great picture.” But as the year progressed, we highlighted more than technical attributes of their writing. It turned into, “You worked really hard on writing your long sentences.” or “You didn’t give up when you were sounding out the word you wrote when you were reading your writing.” We celebrated their character!
Positive Character Traits to Celebrate
Here is a short list of positive character traits that you can celebrate in your classroom.
- Accepting No
How do you celebrate character in your classroom? I’d love to hear!