Being dependable in carrying out obligations and duties.
Feeling for another person’s sorrow or hardship.
Carrying out the duties and responsibilities to one’s country.
Good citizenship, displaying high regard for laws, government and the heritage of one’s country.
Establish rituals and traditions. For example, I have been in several high schools where the seniors are assigned to mentor and support in-coming freshman. I have also noted that in assemblies all rise for the seniors who enter as a group and who sit down front. Seniors are also the first to leave. Underclassmen have told me that they do not mind standing because one day, “Everyone will stand for me.”
Establish consistent rules and procedures for the school. Enforce consequences for tardies and other unacceptable behaviors. This helps build a sense of responsibility in students and provides a more positive environment.
Involve student government in formulating plans on how to promote character development and civility in a high school. One high school’s efforts is highlighted in the book Rules and Procedures: The First Step in School Civility.
The importance of character should be promoted throughout the school. This can be through posters and bulletin boards in classrooms as well as hallways. Monday announcements should address those students who have participated in service projects during the weekend. Ask the faith communities and service clubs to fax participants of service activities to the school.
Much in character education is caught and not taught. Teachers must model what they want their students to do. Greet students at the door. Have homework and class-work posted in the same places every day. Take time to help students before and after school. Arrive at school on time every day. If students have to be at school on time so should all teachers. Remember, be the moral compass for the students.
Consider writing a “Chicken Soup” type book within your school. Hixon High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee did just this. The students wrote about parents, teachers and others in the community who have made a difference in their lives.
Encourage employers to request that a prospective employee provide not only the academic record but also his/her attendance, and any listings of suspensions or expulsions. The student can deny this request, but the employer is sending a message that your attendance and civility in school matters. Share with students that employers are requesting this information.
Celebrate academics, athletics and character. One high school in Indiana has three entrances. One entrance celebrates the academic efforts over the history of the school. Another celebrates the athletic. The third entrance celebrates the good citizens of the school.
Infuse character into the curriculum. This is not an “add-on.” It must reflect the “ethos” or life of the school. Each discipline should be responsible for a presentation on how character is being developed within its curriculum.
The faculty must treat their peers with respect. Faculty meetings are not for grading papers. Educators must develop the habit of treating those who are presenting ideas with respect and dignity. In addition, each faculty meeting should involve some discussion on the character-building efforts of the school.
Maintain and enforce a consistent dress code. This does not necessarily mean uniforms, but it does mean appropriate dress for school. Communicate this with parents as well as students.
Have staff trained in strategies such as seminar teaching and cooperative learning. These strategies have been shown to increase civility between students and also between teacher and students.
Recognize that character is as important as academics. If students are more civil to each other, then the teacher has more time to teach, and the student has more time to learn. Academic standards rise in civil environments. As educators, we must be the compass for this to occur.