In a world with so much conflict, I believe students need reassurance from a trusted teacher that character still matters.
In my 6th grade class, we were recently discussing the topic of plagiarism. I gave a (somewhat) famous example of a now Harvard grad that was very publicly "busted" for copying multiple passages from an earlier published novel. The students were quick to judge based on the evidence. We talked about the fact that whatever one puts their name on is a representation of that person. Therefore, it is important that whatever bears one's name reflects back what the person stands for. They all emphatically agreed given my first example.
Then I told them that this relates to them too. How? Well, when they slap any old thing down on paper and then send it my direction which bears their name, what does that tell me about them?
Silence. Contemplative looks.
Now they were judging themselves.
So then I began to think about challenging the students to define what they stand for so we could display it as a constant reminder that character matters.
This is how I did it:
You can do this too with my free resource:
It includes a link to the lyrics, a link to an online "What do you stand for quiz for teens, and mirrors you can copy for your students.
The key in all of this is that students are reminded daily that they
need to reflect what they stand for in their words and actions.
So, when they are tempted to “talk trash”, these serve as
reminders to look for these positive traits in their classmates. I will
often tell my students “Be a treasure hunter, not a trash
collector!” My goal is to create “treasure collecting” as a culture in
I think kindness shouldn't be just an act we perform here and there, it must be a habit. I plan to celebrate it EVERY day by encouraging my students to live the kindness they want to see in others.