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The Rationale: Addressing the needs of the Affective Domain

School communities are a microcosm of the larger macro community, the society in which we all live. Humankind has long recognized that we must establish parameters that enable us to live together harmoniously (laws, rules, & regulations). Schools must do the same. In a democratic society these parameters of accepted behavior define the essence of good citizenship. In essence, if you abide by and promote these expectations, these laws, you are considered a person of integrity, a person likely to contribute to the common good. Again, this expectation and this definition of good citizenship applies to school communities, as well.

Highly effective schools understand that any departure in behavior by any member of the school community must be addressed as an opportunity to redress that behavior by using it as a teaching moment. This approach is exactly what we expect our teachers to do in the classroom, that is, seize the focus of study in each class as an opportunity to further student understanding and appreciation of the subject of that lesson. This approach is embedded in highly effective instruction in the cognitive domain. Quite simply, it is what great teachers do!

Unfortunately, far too many schools have not transferred this approach to the affective domain, the social emotional development of the child, particularly with respect to student conduct, which does not reflect the expectations and the rules of said school. Again, simply stated, action that violates the way we do things here! The recidivism of student misbehavior in this environment is extremely high.

It is only when we seize these behaviors as teaching moments, as opportunities to advance the understanding and appreciation of each child with respect to the need for these community norms, will we truly make a constructive contribution to the child’s life. When this approach becomes our modus operandi, we are then focusing not on the behavior itself rather, we are advancing student citizenship.

This approach requires that all members of the school staff embrace and advance this approach and understand that they must seize these opportunities as teaching moments, as real opportunities to make a constructive difference in the life of the child. In essence, for some teachers and administrators, it requires a new approach to classroom management and to the greater good of the school.

As it does in the cognitive realm, in the affective realm some students will take a longer and more sustained effort by themselves and by staff to truly understand and to manifest the accepted norms of being a good school citizen.

At the heart of all successful schools is a healthy, vibrant culture that embraces this approach to advance the personal integrity of each member of the community, staff, as well as students. The foundation for this work is character education. The core principles are embedded in a code of conduct that delineates the core values of the school. These five core values include respect, honesty, caring, compassion, and responsibility. These values are advanced through common reads, by integration throughout the educational program, and by modeling. At LPS we are dedicated to this work, to applying the same intense focus to the affective needs of our students that we bring to their cognitive needs.

Effects of Character/Citizenship Education

  • Stimulates the development of integrity, of doing the right thing, and giving back to the community
  • Increases pro-social behaviors and attitudes
  • Improves problem-solving skills
  • Reduces drug and alcohol use
  • Reduces violence and aggression
  • Improves general social behavior
  • Improves knowledge about and attitudes toward risky behaviors
  • Fosters emotional competency
  • Increases academic achievement
  • Builds attachment to school
  • Promotes personal integrity
  • Increase knowledge about character/citizenship
  • Improves social relationships
  • Increases communicative competency
  • Foster better attitudes with teachers

Policy Statement:

Learning Prep School is committed to maintaining a supportive and orderly school environment in which students may receive and staff may deliver a quality education without disruption or interference and in which students may develop as ethical, responsible and involved citizens.

Learning Prep School believes that each member of the school community should take responsibility for his/her own behavior. To that end, the school recognizes the need to model and teach ethical and responsible behavior, to define unacceptable student conduct and its consequences, and ensure that discipline is administered appropriately.

Community Core Values

With rights come responsibilities. Members of the school community are expected to demonstrate ethical and responsible behavior consistent with its core values. Such conduct is fundamental to a supportive, safe, and orderly school environment and a civil society.

Learning Prep School has established five core values:

RESPECT - A person who is respectful of oneself, others and the environment.

HONESTY - A person who is honest in all endeavors.

COURAGE - A person who is courageous in the face of ethical challenges.

COMPASSION - A person who is compassionate.

RESPONSIBILITY - A person who is responsible as an individual and as a member of a community.

Characteristics of successful Character Education Programs

Character education is based on the premise that all teachers are character educators and challenges schools to maximize this learning opportunity. To be effective, character education programs need broad-based support from educators, parents, boards, business leaders and community members. Character education needs to be in the woodwork!

Successful Character Education Programs:

  1. Promote core ethical values as the basis of good character. Character education holds that widely shared pivotally important, core ethical values such as respect, responsibility, caring, honesty, and fairness form the basis of good character. A school or district committed to character development stands for these values (sometimes referred to as “virtues” or “character traits”), defines them in terms of behaviors that can be observed in the life of a school, models these values, studies and discusses them, uses them as a basis of human relations in the school, celebrates the manifestations in the school and community, and holds all school members accountable to standards of conduct consistent with the core values.
  2. Defines “character” comprehensively to include thinking, feeling, and behavior. Good character involves understanding, caring about, and acting upon core ethical values. A holistic approach to character development therefore seeks to develop the cognitive and affective (including emotional and behavioral) aspects of an ethical life. Students grow to understand core values by studying and discussing them, observing behavioral models, and resolving problems involving the values.
  3. Uses a comprehensive, intentional, proactive, and effective approach to character development. Schools committed to character development look at themselves through an ethical lens to assess how virtually everything that goes on in school affects the character of students, and staff. A comprehensive approach uses all aspects of schooling as opportunities for character development.
  4. Creates a caring school community. A school committed to character strives to become a microcosm of a civil, caring, and just society. It does this by creating a community that helps all its members form caring attachments to one another.
  5. Provides students with opportunities for moral action. In the ethical as in the intellectual domain, students are constructive learners; they learn best by doing. To develop good character, they need many and varied opportunities to apply values such as compassion, responsibility, and fairness in everyday interactions and discussions as well as through community service.
  6. Includes a meaningful and challenging academic curriculum that respects all learners, develops their character, and helps them to succeed. When students succeed at the work of school and feel a sense of confidence, competence, and autonomy, they are more likely to feel valued and cared about as persons. Because students come to school with diverse skills, interests, and needs, an educational program that helps all students succeed will be one in which the content and instruction are differentiated enough to engage all learners.
  7. Strives to foster students’ self motivation. Character is often defined as “doing the right thing when no one is looking.” The best underlying ethical reason for following rules, for example, is respect for the rights and needs of others, not fear of punishment or desire for reward.
  8. Engages the school staff as a learning and ethical community that shares responsibility for character education and attempts to adhere to the same core values that guide the education of students. All school staff need to be involved in learning about, discussing and taking ownership of the character education effort. First and foremost, staff members assume this responsibility by modeling the core values in their behavior and taking advantage of other opportunities to influence the students with whom they interact.
  9. Fosters shared moral leadership and long-range support of the character education initiative. Schools that engage in effective character education have leaders (e.g., the head of school, senior administrator, the principal, a lead teacher or counselor, a supervisor, who champion the effort.
  10. Engages families and community members as partners in the character education effort. Schools that reach out to families and include them in character-building efforts greatly enhance their chances for success with students. They take pains at every stage to communicate with families via the website, e-mails, newsletters, news articles, parent/teacher groups, family nights, parent conferences, and community forums.
  11. Evaluates the character of the school, the school culture, school’s staff functioning as character educators, and the extent to which the students manifest good character. Effective character education must include an effort to assess progress.

Learning Prep School provides an individualized language-based program to students with complex learning profiles, including dyslexia, expressive/receptive language issues, autism spectrum disorder, and social communication disorder.

1507 Washington Street  |  West Newton, MA 02465  |  (617) 965-0764  |  contact  |  © 2017 Learning Prep School

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