Consider how you believe performance character is (or is not) advocated for in your educational or professional setting.

This week’s readings in the text (Seider, 2012) reflect on the experiences of students and teachers at Roxbury Prep as they work to develop aspects of performance character in their students. Roxbury Prep has several different performance-based elements to their curriculum, including aspects such as the advisory and the various performance “assemblies” that provide opportunities for students to lead through performance.

Based on these readings, develop a response that addresses the following:

  • Consider how you believe performance character is (or is not) advocated for in your educational or professional setting.
  • Share what your school/classroom/ workplace does to learn and demonstrate performance aspects of character.
  • Share one new idea you have gleaned from your reading that you would like to implement to encourage quality performance character in your context.

Support your statements with evidence from the required studies and your research. Cite and reference your sources in APA style.

Peer Responses (Due Wednesday)

Read your classmates’ responses. Reflect and substantively comment on two or more of their posts to extend the difference between character education and behavior management. If behavior management is a program that is required in your school, how can you weave in the character education philosophy? Support your statements with evidence from the required studies, other research, and experiences. You are required to respond to comments or questions about your posts.

References

Seider, S. (2012). Character compass: How powerful school culture can point students towards success. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

>>Classmate’s Initial Posts

Post 1:

At Dutchman Creek Middle School, students begin each year by learning the Gator Ways.  The Gator Ways are also known as “The Five Rules” – Be Kind, Be In Control, Be Prepared, Be Respectful, and Be Here. These rules govern the manner in which we expect our students to show the character expected of a “Gator Citizen”.  At the end of every quarter, students are rewarded “Gator Cards” based on the grades they received for that quarter.  Students can receive a “gold” Gator Card for getting straight A’s, which rewards them with three dress down days and free admission to six athletic events.  A “silver” Gator Card is awarded for making the A/B honor roll (two dress down days and free admission to four athletic events) and finally a “green” Gator Card, which rewards making the B honor roll (one dress down day and free admission to two athletic events).  A local restaurant, The Shrimp Boat, has partnered with our school and provides us with weekly certificates for a free dinner to be handed out to one student in each homeroom that best displayed the Gator Way that was the focus for that particular week.  Teachers are also encouraged to submit the names of students who strongly exhibit the traits of a great Gator Citizen so that these students can receive a “shout out” on the daily morning news broadcast.  This segment, titled “Who You Shoutin’ Out!” is one of the more popular segments on the morning news due to the manner in which the assistant principal “shouts out” each students’ name.

I believe that the elements of character education we have in place in my educational setting vaguely advocate performance character.  Although there are quite a bit of programs in place that advocate character development, these programs aren’t consistent in truly teaching performance character as defined by Lickona and Davidson (Seider, 2012).  Moral development is the primary focus of our character education program.  The Gator Cards are an attempt to motivate students to do well in the classroom, however, this does not truly instill lasting character traits indicative of performance character.  The use of rewards in our school to promote good character is not effective, especially since the rewards given are not of particular value or interest to students.

Roxbury Prep has done a masterful job in using recognition to build intrinsic motivation and encourage performance character.  I would like to implement community meetings similar to those at Roxbury Prep in our school that allow students to exhibit their achievements.  I believe that this method of recognition encourages other students to perform well by witnessing the work of their peers.  I also feel that it is important for these meetings to be hosted and planned by students in order to allow them to find greater value in the work.  Allowing student autonomy in the planning of the community affords the opportunity for the meetings to not be viewed as just another “task” that students must complete.

Seider, S. (2012).  Character compass: How powerful school culture can point students towards success.            Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Post 2

At my school, Schick Elementary, we have a set of expectations called the Lancer Code based on our school mascot. The Lancer Code is based on the values of respect, responsibility, safety (self-control), and doing the best you can do. Every morning to start off our announcements we say a pledge: “Today is a brand-new day, I am a Lancer. I will be respectful, be responsible, be safe, and always be my best.” The Lancer Code is then enforced throughout the day by Schick Heroes. Every adult in the building has small slips of paper that can be handed out to a student that is demonstrating the values of the Lancer Code. The student would then take that slip of paper and give it to their teacher that stamps their Schick Hero tracker. Their tracker holds eight stamps. Once completed, the student turns their tracker into the office to get a signed certificate stating they are a Schick Hero. Each month, two students (one girl and one boy) from each grade level are chosen as the Schick Heroes of the month. They earn special privileges such as eating lunch in a special spot, saying the morning announcements, getting extra tech time, getting free admission to a sporting event, etc. At the end of the year, all the Schick Hero trackers are thrown into a bin, and area businesses donate gift cards, prizes, etc. to be awarded to the student(s) whose name(s) are drawn.

At the beginning of the year, this really motivates students but by the end of the year, students tend to lose their sense of value in the Schick Hero system and don’t work as hard to earn them. We, as a building, have found that this system is biased and some adults were misusing/overusing the Schick Hero system, some were over rewarding everything a student did (not just the Lancer Code) or the complete opposite and was not rewarding students at all.  We also found that students were only getting rewarded within the classroom, so students who were high achievers/hard workers were getting rewarded repeatedly.  As a result, it has motivated our school to think of and develop a new system, which unfortunately was stalled with the pandemic shut down last school year. Conversations and planning just recently restarted and I’m so excited to be a part of it.

In my own classroom, we are constantly praising and sharing out our work. We do this around a blow-up campfire, since my classroom is camping themed, and we call it our camp meeting. When we do this, we talk about the process it takes in order to create quality work (asking for help if needed, studying, never giving up, etc.). I have an area in the back of my room designated for quality (not perfect) work to be displayed that shows they worked hard, persevered, and used skills we have talked about. Having these conversations has really improved the overall, work ethic of my students. On Fridays, we pick a camper of the week, which is voted on by myself and the students. The camper of the week must have exemplified our classroom expectations as well as the Lancer Code expectations.

Overall, I think our school does a good job of exposing students to performance character but could improve on promoting and demonstrating it. Performance character is defined as “the qualities such as effort, diligence, perseverance, a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, ingenuity, and self-discipline needed to realize one’s potential…”(Seider, 2012, p. 110). I have found at our school, the teachers do a fantastic job of building character and motivating students to perform at their best, but as an entire school, we don’t celebrate and demonstrate performance character enough.

Roxbury Prep’s use of the community meetings and various performance “assemblies” to showcase student’s performance character, in my opinion, is a game-changer. It allows students to demonstrate the performance character promoted by the school while building the school community. I also found the way they advise their students on the character performance traits to be very valuable. Roxbury Prep makes it fun for the students which, in my opinion, is why it is a successful model. My favorite example is when “students designed comic strips depicting their superheroes fighting off these enemies of improved performance, and then posted them throughout the Roxbury Prep classroom and hallways”, they then could earn superhero badges for fighting off the enemies of improved performance. (Seider, 2012, p. 139). I could totally see myself doing something similar in my own classroom because it not only enforces the performance characteristics, we are striving for, but allows the student to apply it in a fun and engaging way. I also found a lot of value in the use of a spirit stick by Roxbury Prep. The spirit stick is given to a deserving student each week, however, it “is typically presented to a student who is not necessarily a top student academically, but who demonstrated extraordinary levels of perseverance and self-discipline”. (Seider, 2012, p. 154). I feel like this is another aspect from Roxbury Prep that I would like to implement in my classroom and would find it very beneficial if our school would adopt it as well.

References:

Seider, S. (2012). Character compass: How powerful school culture can point students towards success. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.