When we hear about things that happen at schools such as bullying, behavioral difficulties, and lack of respect, it makes us wonder about the character of students. Education has changed immensely and we are now entering an era where focus points have shifted, children take on their own responsibilities, and subjects are valued differently. Among the shift, phrases such as ‘life skills,’ ‘character,’ and ‘social emotional education’ are demanding more attention and they have all the rights to do so. The teaching and building of students’ character is essential, and can be done in educational institutions.
Why is that?
Traditional teaching is often content-based and teacher-centered, but reformations have replaced this model with a more student-centered approach, opening the doors for an important part of education called social-emotional learning (SEL). As any reformation, it takes time for schools and nations to implement the new ideas. However, a growing body of research indicates its necessity and also identifies the benefits of the inclusion of character education.
What is character?
It is not something that is innate, therefore we are not born with it. Moreover, we develop over time and it is impacted by external factors like family, school, social life, and surroundings. Children spend a great amount of their time in the school environment highlighting the opportunity to implement teaching those life skills in the regular classroom. Traits such as truthfulness, wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, moderation, and tolerance are all examples of character.
What is SEL?
Character is mental and ethical and is learned over time. It is learned through context, and five core SEL competencies can be learned in schools. They include self awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. All of them can be subdivided and taught in a number of ways and across subjects. It is up to creativity and careful evaluation to find the appropriate way and time to implement the elements in your teaching.
Teaching Character and Preparing Students for Life
Success in life does not solely rely on academics; it’s about social skills that help the individual to deal with failure, create character, learn how to fit into society and how to face challenges and solve problems. In other words, school ought to teach children how to prepare for life. Research shows that the implementation of SEL has increased students’ achievement by 11% compared to those not implementing SEL. Furthermore, it benefits students not only academically but also improves their attitudes towards school and limits the danger of substance abuse. Facilitating classroom management and setting expectations opens the gap for a more positive and productive learning environment. Instead of stealing time from your teaching, SEL decreases behavioral difficulties and gives you more time.
Are there tools for me to use?
Many resources are out there that provide tools to work on this character strength, specifically storytelling. Using storytelling as an aid, you can work together with your students to identify life skills and evaluate them in the classroom. Creating videos with mysimpleshow to connect characters and skills, identify, observe, and discuss it is a great way to tell stories. Video creation tools serve as a helpful aid in a modern classroom, integrating the social emotional learning aspect with technology. Why not try it out and create a video that follows a character and their strengths or weaknesses, and allows the children to develop essential skills for their future?