For a moment, let’s define our CTE acronym as Character Teaching Everyday. Friday, September 27, is International Character Day. Character Day is an annual event that unites millions of people in schools, companies, and homes to develop and deepen their character: strengths like empathy, grit, gratitude, and leadership.
Why? Because character development leads not only to school and career success but also to stronger, more engaged individuals and a more just world. Last year, over 4 million people across 200,000 groups in 125 countries, and all 50 states participated in Character Day. A video by Let it Ripple sets the tone of what is possible by focusing on character.
Events like Character Day reflect the growing interest in and importance of good character, work habits, and personal skills. Career and Technical Education, because of its relevance in helping students develop skills to prepare the real world, teaching positive personal skills is an integral part of CTE instruction. The successful employee, entrepreneur, or supervisor needs positive work habits and good character. One theme this year is #TechLifeBalance. The Life/Career competency on Uses Digital Devices Properly in one example of CTE instruction which is on target with positive behaviors.
On this 2019 Character Day event, is it time for CTE teachers to take an active role in working with other educators to emphasize how schools can reinforce good character traits everyday. Eleven Principles of Effective Character from character.org helps to define character, and the overlap is evident with the soft skills expected of employers with which CTE teachers are very familiar.
Here are three things every CTE teacher can do this Character Day 2019.
- Collaborate - There are likely already other educators in your school engaged in Character Day events. Reach out and see how you can support these efforts. Perhaps it is elementary schools championing the cause. CTE students can participate by sharing how character contributes to job success in a chosen field. Maybe the technical skills of your students, such as graphics, cooking, computers, or construction, can support these celebrations events.
- Share - CTE teachers incorporate character development every day in student feedback on the projects and live-work that they complete. Character Day is a time to showcase how character can be an ongoing learning priority in schools adopting CTE practices such as daily grading, team projects, student profiles, and work with community members/customers.
- Teach - Occasionally in the busy routine of teaching, developing the positive habits of collaboration, perseverance, or task responsibility are overlooked. Character Day is a time for teachers to reflect if they are giving adequate attention to developing critical “soft skills” essential for the workplace. On Character Day, be sure to emphasize to students the work-related character they are developing. If you are looking for ideas of things to do on Character Day, here is an excellent list of ideas.
A final reflection on Character Day is to not only talk about good character but reflect on our behavior and identify those times we have neglected to show our best selves. Teachers must commit to being a model of good character. Enjoy the Day!