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Building Strong Student Character (Character Education Program That Works) Aurangzeb Bhatti NovaQuest International School NovaQuest International School; 12 F.C.C. Maratab Ali Road, Lahore, Pakistan. Phone: 042-577-804, 807

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An Old Native American Story Attributed to the Cherokee Nation One evening an Old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said; "My son, the battle is between wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith." The grandson pondered his grandfather's words for a moment, then asked, "Which wolf wins?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

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"Academics is the Cornerstone of Education, but Character is the Building Block of Life." -- Dale Frederick, District Superintendent of Schools, Pittsburgh, PA (USA)

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‘Character Education’ has a direct correlation to the improvement in Student Behavior, Academic Achievement, and the Learning Environment.

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Character Education Impact 

A Case Study: In 1995, Dayton Public School ranked first in the district on standardized test scores; student absenteeism was the lowest in the district; 95 percent of the students regularly submitted homework; and only 1 student was suspended for bad behavior. “Character Education at this School had improved discipline, increased parent participation, enhanced staff morale, and helped students taste success”.

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Ideas for Promoting Character Education by Enhancing the “School Climate”

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Character Education 

For character education to be a meaningful program, it must be in evidence and reflected through the entire climate of the school. The “school climate” should build positive relationships among all the stakeholders in the school community, i.e; Administrators, Teachers, Staff, Students and Parents. Effective character education programs reduce disruptive, violent and self-destructive behaviors in students.

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The School Environment

Salient features of the “School Environment” that directly influence the “School Climate” include:  School structure and policies  Academic expectations  Behavior expectations  Teacher qualifications and attitudes  Administrative support and leadership  Level of parental and community involvement  Level of student involvement in extracurriculum activities  Emphasis on character building NovaQuest International School; 12 F.C.C. Maratab Ali Road, Lahore, Pakistan. 8 Phone: 


The School Environment 

A positive school climate is one that: 

Provides clear and consistent expectations for student behavior. Encourages students to set high, yet attainable, academic goals. Responds to discipline infractions by providing a range of in-school alternatives for students to learn appropriate behavior. Models and imparts sound societal values, beliefs, and attitudes.

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The School Environment 

A positive school climate is one that: 

Offers personalized assessment and support for students who experience academic problems. Offers personalized assessment and support for students who experience behavioral problems. Coordinates support and referral services for students and their families. Expects and provides meaningful opportunities for parental involvement in students’ education.

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Character Building Activities 

This presentation is about a list of activities, initiatives, and resources that can build an inviting ‘school climate’. These ideas focus on proactive efforts to shape behavior in productive ways as opposed to reactive responses to disruptive behaviors.

While both proactive and reactive approaches are necessary for maintaining a safe and secure school environment, schools must expand their efforts to build a school climate that promotes and recognizes positive behaviors.

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Character Trait of the Month 

Character Trait of the Month: Encourage the coordinated emphasis of a common monthly character trait. Focus on the School’s “Core Values” first and then expand to others. 

The school can develop a list of heroes and villains selected for their association with specific traits and character deficiencies. These heroes can be historical or current political, religious, artistic, intellectual, or sports figures. Their names and pictures appear on classroom bulletin boards and teachers refer to them whenever possible in discussion or writing assignments. Have guests address the character trait of the month in a morning “Assembly” each month.

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Character Trait of the Month 

How This Works: Each month, a specific characterrelated theme is highlighted and school and classroom activities are geared toward helping students understand and develop that character trait. Typically, teachers spend 15-20 minutes each week discussing the theme of the week and its implications with students. Lesson plans, provided by the teacher's should include stories that illustrate:      

Real-life implications of the highlighted trait Suggested discussion topics Motivational quotes Recommended conduct assignments Enrichment activities Other relevant literature resources

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Character Trait of the Month ď Ž

Most importantly, teachers, administrators, and other staff members emphasize the theme of the month frequently during the school day, using it to illustrate classroom lessons and reinforce behavior in all areas of the school environment.

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Character Trait of the Month 

AS AN EXAMPLE TAKE ONE TRAIT “HONESTY”: "Honesty" is the focus in March activities as part of the our Schools’ Character Education program. A story about Abraham Lincoln motivates a discussion of the meaning of the word -- and of the expression "honesty is the best policy." Teachers are encouraged to share one of Aesop's fables, "The Boastful Traveler," and other literature titles that address "honesty." The story of a builder who cheated can be used to set up a discussion about "Who did he really cheat?" Another quote, from H. Jackson Brown, Jr., is offered as a discussion starter: "An honest person is one who you could play checkers with over the phone." And the activities go on… Each month a new theme becomes the focus of classroom activities and discussions. For example, -- fairness, loyalty, responsibility, courage, respect, kindness, patience, good judgment etc.. Could each be presented one month at a time…

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Morning Announcements 

Morning Announcements: Share daily message (over intercom, for instance) about good character with the whole school. 

Include a “thought for the day” related to the month’s character trait. Encourage students to create thoughts for the day and select some to be read during morning announcements. Make sure to keep the messages “short” and “to the point”.

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Mottos/Slogans 

Mottos/Slogans: Have students write and display “sound bites” and “catch phrases” based on the character trait for each month. Examples are:      

Never Give In Try, Try & Try Again The truth always prevails Speaking the truth is real ‘bravery’ To win all you have to do is work hard Your three partners for life are Mind, Body & Spirit – so nurture the partnership.

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Quotations of the Week 

Quotations of the Week: Display a character related quote on the school’s marquee. 

Include quotes from famous people, faculty, and students. Have students practice writing and using higher order thinking skills by using character related quotes as writing prompts. Publish lunch menus with character quotes.

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School Newsletter 

School Newsletter: Help students create articles for school newsletters focusing on ethical living and “heroes”. Include in these articles:  Student expressions  Commentary  Photography  Artwork Have a feature or page that focuses on character traits.

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Library Exhibits and Book Lists 

Library Exhibits and Book Lists: Create wall decorations about books which promote good character and develop a list of recommended readings which teach “Good Character”.

Change these Exhibits and Book Lists monthly to reflect specific character traits.

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Posters & Banners 

Posters & Banners: Give the hallway, cafeteria and

other blank walls in the school some character by displaying banners, slogans, and quotes related to character traits. Make a wall in your classroom called “The Great Wall of Character”. Line the wall with paper and have the students cover that wall with character slogans or famous quotes about the character trait. Display character quotes, recognize students, and display other character-related reminders on this wall. Hold a poster contest for posters to be displayed in classrooms.

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Codes of Conduct & Pledges 

Codes and Rules of Conduct: Design rules based on the character traits for teachers and students. Hold theme days (e.g. encourage wearing the national dress on “Pakistan Day”) Pledges: Design and circulate pledges to “practice the character traits.”

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Art/Creative 

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Projects

Art/Creative Projects: Have students write and

produce plays emphasizing the traits for each quarter (these can draw good publicity-even TV coverage!) Have students create a character “quilt” out of paper. Have students create a “Chain of kindness” – a paper chain with acts of kindness written on each link. Sponsor an essay contest on the importance of character traits. Sponsor a contest in which students write and perform songs based on the character traits. Have students design small folded-cards with character related quotes, ethical dilemmas, or other messages. Place these on cafeteria tables and encourage students to discuss them at lunchtime.

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Contests with Awards and Prizes ď Ž

Contests with Awards and Prizes: Submit and recognize essays, art, music, poetry, speeches, plays, etc. related to character traits.

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Contests with Awards and Prizes  

Ceremonies and Rituals: Recognize students

annually who model the desired good character traits. Implement the program “SMORE” or “Students Who Model Outstanding Responsibility and Ethics”. Honor those who honor others with the ‘Kindness and Goodwill award’. Institute a “Random Acts of Kindness” program that gives awards for good acts. Send home cards to parents of praise to recognize students who demonstrate good character. Create a ‘Non-Academic Honor Roll’ and recognize good character - award recipients at end-of year ceremonies. Call a press conference to publicize the award event.

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The Home Environment 

Character Education activities should also be reinforced by parents at home.

Get parents involved in the program by speaking to them individually about the school’s approach to “character building”.

Invite all parents to selected programs coordinated by students and teachers of the school.

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PARENTS AS PARTNERS 

PARENTS AS PARTNERS: The character education

lessons don't stop at the end of the school day. Parent support and participation are key components of any School’s Environment improvement program. In order to encourage parental involvement and strengthen mutual commitment to character education, we should conduct training programs designed to help parents reinforce and expand the character lessons learned at school. Each family can be provided with a NovaQuest StudentParent Activity Book containing the theme of the month, their definitions, and stories, activities, and suggested family discussion topics. In addition, students can take home other material related to the Character Building program to display and discuss with their families.

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Parents / Staff Training and Discussion 

Incorporate the character traits discussion into Parent / Teacher meetings. Hold parent meetings/workshops and designate a group of teachers, and/or other student ‘Leaders’ to administer Character Education. Send home an informational packet on the premises and expectations of the character program. At the beginning of the year, have both parents and students sign a pledge to build character Discuss character as well as academics in parent-teacher conferences. Send parents school newsletters informing them character education programs to keep them involved.

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Other Activities / Ideas 

Student/Faculty Task Force: Have students work in coordination with

teachers to design, administer and carry out Character Education activities. A range of service learning activities and projects can positively contribute to enhancing opportunities for students to model good character. Examples of such activities are:

Peer Helping/Mentoring: Train students with leadership skills to serve as peer helpers and mentors. Incorporate Character Education into their training.  Cross-age Tutoring/Mentoring: Arrange for preteens and teenagers to support and tutor younger children.  Public Area Beautification: Have students organize and carry out a cleanup of a playground, park or other neglected area.  Landscaping and Gardening Project: Emphasize taking responsibility for one’s own school or youth facility by having students plant and maintain a garden. Cultivating a community vegetable or flower garden is a great way to teach many of the Character Traits.  Clothing and Food Drives: Collect items of clothing and food and donate them to an appropriate agency.  Meals on Wheels: Bring food to people who are homeless. Organize groups of students to serve food at a homeless shelter.  Charity Service: Participate as a group in a charitable cause (such as a walk-athon) or hold a fundraiser (such as an auction, bake sale, or car wash) and donate the money to a charitable organization.  Hungry Child Sponsorship: Hold a fundraiser to sponsor food for poor children in villages in Pakistan. NovaQuest International School; 12 F.C.C. Maratab Ali Road, Lahore, Pakistan. 30 Phone: 


Other Activities / Ideas   

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Book/Magazine Drive: Collect reading materials to donate to a hospital or nursing home. Student-designed T-Shirts: Hold a contest for the design of a local Character Education mascot. School or Youth Organization Mural: Organize students to paint the character traits logo in a prominent location on school grounds or on a banner to place in front of the school. Authorized “Character Education Wall”: Solicit the participation of all students to design and paint a mural of good character on a wall. Have them maintain the condition of the wall by repainting periodically. “Chain of Character”: Have various youth groups or schools sell paper “character links” as a fundraiser. Designate a color for each group if you want them to compete to sell the most. Then display the chain at a large gathering. (In Roswell, New Mexico, a “Chain of Character” circled a field twice at a football game between rival high schools.) Caring for Animals Club: The Humane Society will send free pamphlets to help students organize their own “Caring for Animals” Club. Youth Participation: Participate in Campaigns such as ‘The Day of Caring’ with other schools of handicapped and special children.

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"Academics is the Cornerstone of Education, but Character is the Building Block of Life." -- Dale Frederick, District Superintendent of Schools, Pittsburgh, PA (USA)

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Thank You Aurangzeb Bhatti NovaQuest International School

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Building Strong Student Character1