The Importance of Character Strengths in the Classroom

Let’s talk about character strengths. These character strengths in the classroom set our students up for success.A recent study by the Josephson Institute found that 92% of respondents agreed that “a major goal of education should be to help students develop strong character.” But what does “strong character” actually mean? According to positive psychology, good character is exemplified by 24 widely valued character strengths. These strengths are classified into six virtuous areas: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence.

Character Strengths in the Classroom
Character Strengths in the Classroom

What is Social-Emotional Learning?

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which people develop the ability to manage emotions, set and achieve goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. In other words, SEL skills are essential for success in school and in life.

Why is SEL Important in the Classroom?

The research is clear: SEL skills are critical for academic success. A report by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning found that students who received comprehensive SEL instruction saw an average increase in GPA of 11%, compared to students who did not receive SEL instruction. Furthermore, students who received comprehensive SEL instruction were also more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to be involved in crime or substance abuse.

How can Teachers Implement SEL in the Classroom?

There are a number of ways that teachers can incorporate SEL into their classrooms. Some examples include:

Model SEL behaviors yourself by using character strengths in the classroom

As a teacher, you are a role model for your students. If you demonstrate positive social-emotional behaviors yourself (e.g., managing stress in a healthy way), your students will be more likely to do the same.

Incorporate group work into your lessons specifically character strengths in the classroom

Make sure your classroom is a safe space where all students feel comfortable expressing themselves and sharing their feelings.

Incorporate group work into your lessons

Working in groups gives students an opportunity to practice important SEL skills such as communication, teamwork, and conflict resolution.

Teach lessons on specific SEL topics

Use books, videos, discussions, and other activities to teach your students about important social-emotional topics such as empathy, bullying prevention, and anger management.

Give students regular opportunities to reflect on their progress

Self-reflection is an important part of the social-emotional learning process. Give your students time to think about how they’re doing in terms of meeting their goals and practicing new skills. Ask them questions like: What worked well for you today? What challenges did you face? How did you manage those challenges? What could you do differently next time?

Strong character is essential for success in school and in life—there’s no two ways about it. So let’s make sure we’re doing our part to help our students develop character strengths like empathy, teamwork, resilience, self-awareness, and more! Fortunately, there are a number of things we can do as teachers to promote social-emotional learning in our classrooms. By modeling positive behavior ourselves, creating a supportive environment , incorporating group work into lessons , teaching lessons on specific topics ,and giving regular opportunities for reflection , we can set our students up for success both inside and outside of the classroom!

You may want to check out some of my other SEL blog posts. You can do read them here!