CharacterStrong is a Social Emotional Learning program (SEL) that focuses on the questions that are not getting asked: What did you do for others today? And How are you dealing with you? CharacterStrong also focuses on teaching our students strong leadership and character skills to better prepare them for life in and out of school and focus on building strong family connections with students/parents, students/teachers and school/ home life. CharacterStrong also gives teachers the opportunity to connect with their students in a positive way and form a positive relationship through quality conversations and lessons.
Purpose: To prepare and provide all the skills students need to be able to function in life in four content areas: in and out of school, at work or college, at home, and with everyday interactions.
CharacterStrong Core Components: CharacterStrong is comprised of four core components that, when combined together and implemented with fidelity, create a recipe that (1) enhances the culture and climate of a school through an increase in prosocial behaviors in staff and students and (2) enables students through the acquisition of social, emotional, and character skills and an elevated sense of safety, belonging, and purpose in school to function and perform better academically, socially, and behaviorally. In turn, improved academic, social, and behavioral functioning optimizes student academic potential and their eventual success in civic, home, and private aspects of adult life. Each of the core components are
School-Wide Integration: This component of CharacterStrong captures specific practice elements that aim to integrate it into a school’s culture and climate. For example, school leadership must align it with the mission and vision of their school, leadership teams must strive to integrate CharacterStrong through visible signs, symbols, and rituals that become part of the school culture, CharacterStrong assemblies and trainings are integrated into an annual calendar, and a Tier 1 Team is meeting at least monthly to monitor and assess fidelity.
Adult Relationship Practices: This component of CharacterStrong is about facilitating consistent adult behavior change to build intentional relationships between staff and students, foster the essential ingredient of trust in the classroom, and role model what character development looks like from the adults in the building. For example, daily greetings at the classroom door, weekly emotional check-ins with students, a monthly relational and equity-based classroom roster assessment, and ongoing personal development through practical, low-burden character challenges.
Advisory Curriculum: This component of CharacterStrong includes specific practice elements that aim to ensure that each and every student receives explicit, quality instruction to learn social-emotional skills and develop strong character weekly or biweekly. For example, ongoing character challenges (CharacterDares) are presented authentically and consistently, intentional processing strategies are used to reflect on ongoing character growth, experiential learning activities are employed to foster engaged and deep relational learning, and lesson structure is adhered to in a way that starts and ends each lesson with intentionality.
Leadership Curriculum: This component of CharacterStrong is delivered with a sub-group of students in the building who are socially connected to the various social networks in the building and serve to enact a servant-leadership model that aims to improve peer culture and climate. For example, there is a thoughtful process used to bring in a representative population from your school, there is daily instruction with this group to deeply teach a servant-leadership model, and there are opportunities for service and character development in a way that role models this work for the larger school population.