Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
In his “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired the nation when he said that he hoped his children would be judged by “the content of their character” rather than by their race.
If you’re a teacher, you know that the teaching process is holistic, which means that rather than just educating students in our subject areas, we’re trying to help the whole student become the best they can be. How can we help our students build their character?
Step one is starting the conversation. By introducing the topic, you’ll open the door for your students to reflect on their values and character and encourage personal growth – meaningful stuff!
Check out this interactive video course on character building for students, and watch the incredible discussions and transformations it sparks.
The Building Character Certification Course for Students
The course is divided into six different modules made up of a series of video lessons that last about two hours. In it, you’ll find videos for all ages, so you can pick and choose which ones to use whether you’re an elementary, middle or high school teacher.
It also lends itself perfectly to flipping your classroom since it involves online video learning. Assign the modules for homework and then use class time for discussion, or watch together or individually in class – it’s up to you!
Module #1: Curiosity (~9 mins.)
Did you and your students know that one thing billionaires have in common is their curiosity? This module dives into the concepts of IQ, EQ and CQ, which all measure different types of intelligence.
Your IQ refers to your intellectual intelligence, while EQ stands for emotional quotient, and CQ, which you may or may not be familiar with, is your curiosity quotient.
Students will learn that even if they don’t have the highest IQ in their class, they can make up for it with high curiosity and well-developed emotional intelligence.
The videos in this module also cover critical thinking and what it involves: questioning, considering the implications of various scenarios and exploring other points of view. This last point is critical in character building for students as they learn to respect others, even when they have differing opinions.
Module #2: Grit (~26 mins.)
All of the following modules are broken down into three sections: theory, components and practice.
In the theory section of this module, students will learn about neuroplasticity, or the ability to rewire your brain by learning new tasks which forms new neural pathways.
It also introduces the concept that failure is just another word for growing, and that grit is made up of passion and perseverance. If you’re not clear on what grit is exactly, take a look at this video from the module:
Some of the practical exercises for students in this module include setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) and making an accomplishments box, great for fostering self-esteem!
Module #3: Growth Mindset (~18 mins.)
Grit goes hand in hand with the growth mindset, a phrase coined by Dr. Carol Dweck that means that talents and skills can be learned and improved through practice. The flip side is the fixed mindset, which states that talents are innate – you either have them or you don’t.
It’s vitally important that you embody the growth mindset for your students to keep them motivated and believing in themselves!
Students will also learn about self-reflection in this module and the idea of being a lifelong learner. As an adult, you can talk to them about your lifelong learning journey!
Module #4: Purpose (~23 mins.)
This is a weighty topic for any age group. Do you feel like you’ve found your purpose? Hopefully it’s in line with your career – teaching!
Students will explore what it means to have a sense of fulfillment and how to understand their own personal “why.”
They’ll also hear about how service can increase your sense of purpose, which could tie in to an excellent opportunity to have your class do a volunteer project!
Next you'll find an interesting discussion on instant gratification for millennials and teaching them that the worthwhile things in life take time, like job satisfaction and relationships.
Then there’s a great exercise in the practice section that’s laid out in the video on “Ikigai,” a Japanese concept that translates to “a reason for living.”
The video comes with a great printout to get your students brainstorming about what they’re good at, what they love, what the world needs and what skills they could be paid for:
Your school’s career counselor will thank you!
Module #5: Gratitude (~27 mins.)
Here’s some information teachers can benefit from as much as their students: grateful people get sick less, have healthier hearts, exercise more, get better sleep, are more optimistic, overcome adversity better, find greater joy in life, are more generous with time and money, are more forgiving and build better relationships with loved ones. Wow!
When your students check out the gratitude and forgiveness experiment videos, they’ll see just how much of an impact being grateful and practicing forgiveness will have on their happiness. It’s powerful.
In this module, your students will explore whether they’re pessimists or optimists, and how changing their attitude is up to them. You’ll also get some exercises like making “a jar of awesome” or building a gratitude garden, a great way to practice character building for your students!
Module #6: Kindness (~29 mins.)
If there’s one thing we could all benefit from in our schools and in the world, it’s a little more kindness.
The first video in this module starts out with a great quote, “Kindness is the only thing in the world that doubles when you share it.”
It then digs into the science of kindness – did you know that performing just one random act of kindness per day reduces stress and releases hormones that make you calmer, healthier and happier? Try it!
There are also some incredibly inspiring videos on volunteer projects like caring for the homeless and providing education for inmates that might just inspire your students to do some volunteering of their own.
Humility, harmony and empathy also come up in this module, which are all fantastic values that you can discuss together in class.
How to Use the Building Character Video Lessons
With issues like cyberbullying, violence in schools and racism, building character is more important than ever before. Schools have a responsibility to mold students into the best versions of themselves, which goes way beyond the syllabus!
You can use the course with your homeroom, with a health class, in civics, English, sociology or any class you think would benefit.
Start the dialogue in your class to make sure your students are just as proud of their character as they are of their grades.