05 January 2008

Character education - am I reaching it?

It's Sunday evening after a long two week break for the holidays - ahhh, surely this is the golden reward for leaving that corporate job - real holidays with real time off. :-)

I have always wanted to do some character education in my lessons, so after I did my prep work this afternoon for this week I began feeling a little disappointed with my work ..... there wasn't any noticeable character education present.

The next step was to look at what I did put in my plan. That lesson material surprised me ... I was extremely focused on getting students to work together in small groups and then doing exercises to link what we are studying, heredity, to their life. How come? I begin pondering that for the next few hours. Walla. The answer/insight came to me why I was eating ....

How will I measure my success as a teacher when my students leave my class? Thinking. I will measure it by IF they improve their ability to think - to analyze data they collect. If they improve their thinking, then I'm doing successful teaching practices.

At the same time I remembered this, I also remembered I want my students to improve their social skills, starting with relating to their peers in class, which is reaching ... remember when you were in high school? I do.

Clearly, group work is the key, I've had that answer handed to me on a platter. At the end of every semester, I ask the students to anonymously tell me what worked in class to help them learn from the activities and exercises we did, along with what didn't help them learn anything in class. They have no issue telling me what's so for them on this.

Resoundingly, they tell me the that working in small groups helps for one reason or another. Bingo. I admit, it'd be easier on me to give them worksheets or book assignments .... it's managing chaos .... with all those groups my room gets loud ... but then I definitely get opportunity to see what everyone is doing and for the most part they are on task.

So this pondering question I had about "why" I was planning my lesson the way I did is solved now ... but at the same time I connected all those dots, I also had a "basement" goal of mine revealed to me. That's a goal I don't show anyone cause it's off the Standards list ... what is it? Have my students be better global citizens.

Have worked through this nagging disappointment I'm breathing easier now. I see that I do have character education covered, ain't that what being a global citizen is all about? I think so.

Fresh and ready here I go into another term of learning and growing with the students...


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