Rebecca Sipos, Interim President & CEO 
President’s Column
Four Ideas for Boosting Teacher Morale
By Becky Sipos
Teachers matter. Decades of research and studies have found that, what to me, seems obvious--the quality of teachers has a bigger influence on student achievement than school facilities or curriculum. But what the studies have not clearly defined is what we mean by student achievement. Nor have they figured out what to do about ensuring teacher quality.

Those who think student achievement is best measured by test scores are among those who wanted to tie teacher evaluation to student outcomes. Taking it a step further, many wanted to use those tests to eliminate the low performing teachers. That led to hotly contested policy debates on teacher evaluations and protests on time spent on testing. Not to mention that the lowest performing teachers were often those at high poverty schools, and there was not a long line of highly effective teachers waiting to take those challenging positions. Those debates may have dissipated a bit with the newly passed Every Student Succeeds Act that reduces the role of the federal government in requiring test score accountability in teacher evaluations. How the states will move forward remains to be seen.

But those of us in character education look at student achievement much more broadly than just test scores.  We want students to become ethical and engaged citizens, critical thinkers, and peaceful problem solvers who care about others. Read more >>
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2016 Promising Practices
We’re excited to announce that we received more than 400 Promising Practice applications! The winners will be announced on April 15th. In the meanwhile, feel free to search through past Promising Practices for ideas you can use.. Blending together this month’s focus on caring relationships and Earth Day coming up in just a few weeks, we share an inspiring Promising Practice from Imagine Kissimmee Charter Academy in Kissimmee, Florida.

Imagine Kissimmee Charter Academy Goes Green is a student led program run by the 6th grade critical thinking class. Students were asked to identify environmental problems in the school. After discovering that almost 600 styrofoam trays were being thrown out each day, they created a plan to reduce waste by recycling them. They visited other classrooms to teach them the importance of recycling the foam trays in the recycling center they created in the cafeteria. The students estimated that over 120,000 foam trays were recycled over the course of the year.

Mr. Williams, the Science Teacher who oversees the initiative, shares, “The older kids love educating the younger students about environmental issues and how we can all be part of the solution with simple problem solving of our own. I’ve seen a young 1st grader gently tap a 6th grader on the arm and remind him to recycle his tray at lunch. The whole program is a win/win situation!” 
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Dr. Michele Borba 
Forum Sneak Peek: Michele Borba to Keynote
Creating a caring community is an invaluable component of the character development process, but knowing how to start can be a little tricky sometimes. One path is to focus on building empathy among students. National Forum Keynoter Michele Borba offers specific steps toward creating an empathetic culture, and thus a caring community, in her new book, UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, that she will outline during her presentation this fall.

Dr. Borba is an internationally recognized expert and author on children, teens, parenting, bullying and moral development. Her work aims to help strengthen children’s character and resilience, create compassionate and just school cultures and reduce peer cruelty.

To learn more about empathy and caring communities, join us October 15th in Washington, DC as Dr. Borba delivers her energetic keynote, and be sure to come early the previous day to experience all of our other wonderful keynotes, sessions and networking time.

Featured Blogs

What if Schools Taught Kindness? by the Greater Good Science Center

Surprising Ways to Nurture Empathy in Kids by Michele Borba

Resource Roundup: Creating Kind & Caring Classrooms by Rebecca Bauer

The Character Consortium is now open! We have four founding members: Around the Piano, High 5 for Character, SchoolToolsTV and Lucky Kat World. Learn more >>

Our online webstore has a variety of new products from our consortium members. Shop Now>>

Save the date! The 2016 National Schools will be announced on May 6, 2016. Interested in joining us for the official announcement event on Capitol Hill? Email rebecca@character.orgg for more information.
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