To focus on, expect, and exemplify good character at school is a gift to your students that keeps on giving. When individuals embrace and display good character they generally have better lives, lives that attract good people, positive events, and success.
What does good character look like at school? I felt that the list above is a good starting point, and below I've listed some ways we can make good character visible at school.
Availability: To be present for our students means being ready to listen, respond, and ready and willing to help when needed.
Brave: When we witness events, words, or actions that disrespect, negate, or exclude our students, we have to speak up.
Content: We have to continually learn on our own and with others in ways that allow us to update our content so that it's honest, inclusive, and representative of the good knowledge that exists in our world--knowledge that helps students to create a strong foundation for future learning and positive effort.
Dependable: We have to offer what we can give and then follow through with that. We have to be careful that we don't promise what we can't fulfill, and we have to be there for our students when they need us.
Empathetic: Before making any decisions or commentary, we have to listen, observe, and put ourselves in the shoes of the colleagues, students, and families we are working with. We have to ask more questions than making conjecture about people's situations, needs, and interests.
Forgiving: We all err, and typically most of our errors are not intentional. We have to be ready to forgive those around us that make errors and apologize for the errors we make too.
Generous: We don't need a lot to be happy, and we need to give what we can when we can to help others.
Humble: None of us have the monopoly on knowledge, skill, or abilities--we are all works in progress that with good effort and intent generally make promising progress. With humility we know that we typically do better when we work together.
Industrious: Laziness does not develop us or what we can do for our world or others. Hard, smart, focused work does pay off.
Joyful: We have to make time to celebrate all the wonder small and great that is around us. Stop for five minutes in the classroom each day just to look around and notice the beauty in children's actions, creativity, words, and expression each day.
Kindhearted: Make acts of kindness a daily effort beginning with a smile, kind-truthful words, and helpful actions.
Loyal: Be true to your words, support the people and initiatives you work with and for with honesty and care.
Mannerly: Good manners are a sign of respect. Be patient, listen, say please and thank you, wait your turn, and speak with care.
Neighborly: Teamwork matters--work to be a good team member and support a positive team.
Obedient: Follow laws, protocols, and policies, and if you don't believe in those laws, protocols, or policies, transparently work for positive change.
Patient: Don't rush to judgement or push your wait to the front of the line. Take your time, listen, and wait for your turn. Don't rush students also, every child has a just-right speed when it comes to development, task completion, and interest. Be respectful of that variation.
Questioning: When something doesn't make sense, ask questions first rather than rush to judgement.
Responsible: Do the expected work, pay your bills, complete your tasks.
Self-Control: Take a deep breath, count to ten, go hard on the problems not the people.
Thankful: When you wake up in the morning and got to bed at night reflect on a small number of items, people, or events that you're grateful for.
Unwavering: Make the time to think deeply about who you are, what you believe in, and your contributions.
Virtuous: Be good and do good.
Wise: Surround yourself with intelligent, experienced, positive people via real time interactions, the work you do, where you volunteer, what you read and what you listen to or watch--that will put you on the path to wisdom.
Excited: Find the work, activity, and people that excite you, and use that excitement and enthusiasm to fuel your good work and contribution that's possible.
Yielding: Hone your skills to discuss and debate issues of importance with respect, knowledge, and care, and be prepared to yield when you learn more or better. Also be prepared to compromise in positive ways when differences cannot be reconciled.
Zealous: Find that which creates a positive zeal for life, and use that zealous energy to forward the good possible.
Recently when watching John Warner discuss green chemistry, he spoke about the survival of the compatible. To encourage good character in yourself and others is to build a world that is mutually beneficial to each of us--this is a positive direction for people and our world today. I do believe we can all do better, and working for good character is one way to move in that direction.