To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom. –Maria Montessori-
Appreciation, confidence, cooperation, empathy, enthusiasm, respect, and curiosity . . . What do these traits have in common? They are all attitudes that demonstrate “character strength,” which is a predictor of success in school—and in life. As early as can be, I believe as teachers we have to pay special attention to character development for it is the basis for personal growth.
Character is a collection of all our traits including all of our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. Our students’ character is build through their choice of action and this will then affect every aspect of their current and future life. Being their substitute parents at school, we contribute to their upbringing, and we play a vital role in helping our students to develop their full potential.
In our class, children practice skills that promote character development every single day. From the very beginning of the school year, we repeatedly explain our class rules in any given chances. These rules are the very basic rules to do our daily class activities. Among those are some important rules such as sharing, helping hands, asking for help and saying thank you, and keeping the communal hygiene. Here are two activities as an example of what we do in our class to promote the character development.
All children in my class know the help me mantra. We tell them every time they need our help or others’ help. They have to say the ‘Help me please’ mantra in order to get help, and closing it with the ‘thank you’ mantra after they get the help done. They also know that they have to say the ‘thank you’ mantra whenever they get things from others.
In our class, we prepared a bed and we use some carpets for communal use by the students. Therefore, they have to learn how to keep the communal hygiene. We kept on reminding them to take off their shoes when they go to the bed or the carpets. Few weeks later, they remind each other to take off their shoes.
Playing is an integral part of learning for this age group. Toys then become the media of teaching about sharing and taking turns. In our class, our students learn how to play together with the same toys. We also teach them how to make a queue. We make them understand that everybody will get the chance to play. Hence, they have to take turns.
I believe that character development is the foundation for lifelong learning. I found that my students enjoy the comfortable learning environment when their peers are also learning about respect, cooperation, and compassion. I also find it easier to teach when my students are exhibiting habits of patience, diligence, and self-control in the classroom. Nobody says it will be easy. These things took time! However, it will be worth every energy and good intention you’re putting in it. Our students are now happier, more caring, more forgiving, and more responsible as they are taught to think about the needs of others.
By: Ms. Melisa Setyawan
Homeroom Teacher Grade Nursery
GMIS – Bali
Nowadays, in a fast changing world, it is not easy to teach students how to be empathetic, how to be sympathetic, how to be kind, to be tolerant, to be optimistic, to be courageous, etc. TV shows, cartoons, computer games and Internet websites and the social media are strongly influencing students’ behavior. But we teachers, as thinkers and caring individuals, strive hard to find the best way how to inculcate moral values so our students make a difference in line with IB PYP goals to prepare students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and have the capacity to participate in the world around them.
Today’s education should not be focusing only on increasing knowledge of students and developing their skills but to prepare them for a fulfilling life in the future. Life demands more than knowledge and skills.
So, what is our school doing to prepare the students to become active, caring and lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and have the capacity to participate in the world around them?
Aside from the transdisciplinary themes with central ideas and lines of inquiries that are wonderfully planned, the teachers also found out one of the best ways to inculcate moral values and that includes the IB learner profile and PYP attitudes through reading books. Books are the best tools to teach the students with moral values. There are scenarios that can help them realize that they need to put everything into perspective – others are not lucky enough – they have nothing to eat, live in a difficult and abusive life, no shelter to live in, no parents to guide them, no friends to play with, no toys to play, no cars to ride on, etc.
Four novels are specially chosen for grade 3 students to read. They are Charlotte’s Web, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Justin Case and Nancy Drew.
These novels are ingrained with fundamental values – for every child to discover and enjoy.
These novels are carefully chosen to help launch meaningful discussions with the students. They work best as subtle discussion starters (rather than direct ‘lecturing’ on the learner profile and PYP attitudes) – to make the value system stick, students need to come up with the conclusion themselves. So, teachers make sure to follow–up a read aloud with some open–ended questions. They include books because they believe that reading books is the best way to encourage the students to make a difference, take action whether small or big, create a positive change in the world they live in, and also for academic success.
My students started reading Charlotte’s Web, and they were able to apply what they have learned in our first two units of inquiry, which focused on rights and responsibilities and animal adaptation – which each child who has a pet should be responsible to give love and care because animals have rights too. All my students said that they are against animal cruelty, that each animal has the right to live – I laughed at this. But others were asking- how about the animals that we eat? Is that also animal cruelty? Students had long discussions and arguments about this issue. They gave out their best reasons and persuaded others that it is animal cruelty or not.
After reading Charlotte’s Web, we watched the movie version. Students came up with the conclusion that the book was a story of friendship between Wilbur and Charlotte – that a true friend is going to risk his/her life for one’s own good. After watching the movie, students were asked who among their classmates was their best friend. They wrote a letter to their best friend and stated why their friendship is true and to be kept. After giving the letter to their best friend, students were asked to reply to each other’s letter. While giving the response letter, they sang a song about friendship.
|You’re My Best friend
Many people say true friends are hard to find
But I know I’m not that kind
They come and go and sometimes leave us behind
Like a wind that passes by
(Cause)When you need a friend
That you can depend
You can count on me because you’re my best friend
When you’re feeling down and your heart is hurt
You can call on me and
I’ll be there for you friend
Good things may come and then bad things may go
Like a birth a long time ago
You’re like the ship that’s sailing across the sea
To the waves that’s so unkind
(Repeat Chorus) Hold
The second novel that they read was ‘Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.’ Before they started reading, we had some learning engagements. Students filled in a prediction chart, watched videos and looked at pictures about what happened during World War 2 and the aftermath of the explosion in Hiroshima. Then they answered the four question on a Y-Chart: what did you see, what did you hear, what did you feel and what do you worry about – to give them background of what really happened during the war. Most of the students wrote that they were really scared and sad at the same time. They wondered how the people back then survived the explosion and how they rebuilt their lives after the war. Most of them were also worried that another war may happen though other parts of the world are having conflicts.
The students filled in the Y – Chart after watching videos and looking at the pictures of the aftermath of World War 2.
Our Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes center
Reading the novel, students were able to describe Sadako using the IB learner profile and PYP attitudes. Students pointed out that Sadako learned to stay positive and courageous despite having been inflicted with a debilitating disease. Students also learned that they have to be determined, never give up and always hope that everything will be alright in God’s will. They learned how to empathize with Sadako’s struggles.
The third novel that students read was Justin Case. They were very excited to start our activities and find out the things that happened to the main character because it is a story of a boy who worries a lot. The boy is a worrywart and most of the students were able to relate to him. The students were asked to describe Justin as well as the other characters in the story using the IB learner profile and PYP attitudes. Since Justin likes to describe his teacher and writes down his experiences in school, they were also asked to describe their teacher (others wrote poems about their teachers) and penned down their experience on their first day of school.
Students, together with their parents, are reading their first day of school experiences and their descriptions of their teachers just like what Justin usually does.
The last but not least novel was Nancy Drew. Most of the students loved the novel because it is suspense-filled and is about solving dangerous mysteries. Students loved it because one should be a risk-taker and thinker to find clues and be knowledgeable to be able to solve the crime or mystery.
It is really essential to inculcate in the students the IB learner profile and PYP attitudes, and one way to do this is through reading. Through reading, students learn important life lessons. Having a respectable behavior is a must at a very young age. This can help the students make a difference, be open-minded and tolerant about differences in beliefs, cultures, traditions, etc. If students around the world are open–minded and tolerant, our world will be in safe hands and world peace will just be around the corner.
By: Freitz Gerald Talavera
Grade 3 Classroom Teacher
BINUS SCHOOL Simprug
Nowadays, our kids are exposed to facilities like having cars to bring them to and from school, nannies, gadgets etc. It is normal that parents want to give their kids the best in everything. However, sometimes or often they don’t realise the way parents give or provide all the best things to their children can bring about a negative effect later on. Children become more dependent than ever on all these items. Somehow, they do not even need to ask… Voila! Everything is ready in front of them.
I realise that my students have become more and more dependent. One time, without any words, one of my students gave me her lunch box. At first, I automatically opened it and gave the opened snack box back to her. Then I regretted it. How come I gave in to such an inappropriate request? From that experience, I started to introduce to them 3 magic words: “please”, “sorry” and “thank you”. Using those three magic words made them more “human.” Their empathy and appreciative feelings have grown and their behaviour became more polite. Eventually, those magic words become a habit for them.
In my school now, teachers always bring a small broom and a dust pan during snack time. Since I teach kindergarten students, those two things are very useful during that time. We have a janitor who is always available to clean students’ rubbish. Instead of asking the janitor to clean the students’ mess, we teach them how to do it themselves.
Perfection does not come immediately, of course, but we can see the effort of the students and how they feel about themselves. They try hard to use the broom and the dust pan, which is also a good practice for their fine motor skill. Students also feel proud of themselves after they are done cleaning their own mess. The most important thing is that by doing that, students appreciate others’ feelings and job. They will try first to clean their own area before they ask help from the janitor by using those three magic words. However, they have become more careful in eating, so they will try their best not to spill anything on the table or floor.
One day, I look forward to seeing the kids develop their independence and willingness to help others in school, not only to those who are in need, but also to the strangers they see along the streets, neighbourhood and around the community. Little practices can make a difference in building big goals for children’s learning which start from the little things that young children can manage to do by themselves.
By Dian Anggraini (firstname.lastname@example.org), K2 Homeroom Teacher,
Sekolah Global Indo-Asia (Batam)
I hope that you have all had a successful start to the new school year! One thing that we want to focus on this year at Bandung Independent School is our new Guiding Statements, approved by the School Board in May 2016 after a lengthy process of review involving all community members, including a Vision Mission Values review committee made up of teachers, administrators and parents. Throughout the process we were mindful of IB Programme Standard A: ‘The school’s published statements of mission and philosophy align with those of the IB.’
Yesterday, on 19 August we all enjoyed the first assembly of the year. After welcoming new students and staff we focused on our new Vision – ‘At BIS, it is our vision to nurture individual potential and be an internationally-minded school of excellence.’ In mixed level groups, students decided how we meet our vision through the PYP attitudes. Each group was given one attitude and prepared a short skit to demonstrate how we work towards our vision through their particular attitude. What does it mean to nurture individual potential? How can we be internationally minded? What exactly is a school of excellence? Next week’s assembly will focus on our new school values.
It is very important to us that students as well as staff and parents understand the new Guiding Statements and can connect them to their own role in our school. We will be thinking of ways of creating a sense of ownership of and commitment to our new Vision, Mission and Values. We would be interested in hearing ways in which other schools have ensured that community members understand their vision, mission and values.
Mary Collins, Elementary Principal and Deputy Head, Bandung Independent School