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SIS Männedorf-Zürich Sharing Our Gifts with Others: The Language of Virtues Kathryn Götz, Primary Teacher

At SIS Swiss International School we believe that it is important to be explicit in the feedback we give to students. Our aim is to help our students think critically about how their words and actions can be used to affect positive feelings and changes in others. So far, we have focused specifically on two virtues: respectfulness and responsibility. We have also begun to implement a language of virtues into our assemblies, our classrooms and in the schoolyard, in order to acknowledge the many gifts of character in our school community. Often it’s the simple acts that mean the most to our students and in which they feel the most pride. At a recent virtues assembly, each class compiled an impressive list of all the ways they show responsibility, including taking care of pets, catching the train on time and being honest. Similarly, when students handed out medals for qualities they admire in their classmates, it quickly became clear which virtues they most cherish: “I give her a medal because she never loses faith in people.” “I like the way he has good ideas and is good at writing long stories.” “She does partner work well.” “He is fair and takes care that no one feels alone.” It was rewarding to see so many examples of loyalty, friendliness, creativity, and trustworthiness being recognized using the language of virtues. We would like our students to regard virtues as inherent gifts and valuable lessons that can be shared and learned from others. Students at SIS Männedorf-Zürich are beginning to assume responsibility for their actions and respect themselves and others, not because we tell them to, but because they see value in it. Our recent work with virtues is just the beginning of a long conversation that we hope the children will primarily lead in the coming years. Through this process, our students will take pride in their strengths and become accustomed to vocalizing their recognition and appreciation of the virtues that others in their school community have to share.

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SIS World 2016  
SIS World 2016