Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Supporting the Development of Character

Character, defined broadly as a person’s integrity and intent, has a place in the after-school program. Too often we work on specific skill development in school and leave character education for someone else to do. Recently, more and more schools have realized that simply helping young people develop intellectual capacity is not enough. As we move into the 21st Century, workplace skills include (but are not limited) to the ability to communicate effectively. Effective communication is the ability to communicate with both individuals and groups in a positive manner, articulating the message in such a way that the listener can receive an accurate understanding of the content and intent of the message. Each member of the workforce will need to be able to work well on a team and be willing to collaborate and cooperate to ensure that goals are accomplished. Needless to say this means that individuals will need strong interpersonal skills to ensure that each can manage his/her own behavior, emotions, and motivations, as well as accepting personal responsibility for legal and ethical issues that the individual and team faces. Workers will be expected to demonstrate social and civic responsibility, and the ability to disseminate information accurately. The root of these skills is character as defined above.

Many schools have started to include character education as a key thread that runs through the school’s culture. There are a variety of programs that schools might access, but one of the most popular seems to be Character Counts! This program is based on six pillars of character:


Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country


Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant and accepting of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements


Do what you are supposed to do • Plan ahead • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act — consider the consequences • Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes • Set a good example for others
Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly • Treat all people fairly


Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Express gratitude • Forgive others • Help people in need


Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment • Volunteer”
If the school you are at does not have a character education strand, check out this Character Counts program by going on line and seeing how it might fit with your program.

How to demonstrate character can be found in a variety of Online Instruction minis and modules. Understanding Accountability, the Ownership Model, Agreement Setting, and more will help others see you as a person of character. Check out our resources at

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