Sunday, September 20, 2015

Character Traits of GREAT Students

Growth Mindset.
Habits of Mind.
Pillars of Character.

These buzz words seem so hot right now, but truthfully, they've been around for years!

I remember learning about the 16 Habits of Mind by Costa and Kallick during my first year of teaching.  The list seemed daunting.  We were instructed to not only incorporate them into our lessons, but to also have the students use the language as well.  With terms such as "Managing Impulsivity" and "Metacognition," I thought that would be quite a tough thing to accomplish.

I was wrong, and at the tender age of 25, I learned that kids, when given the opportunity, will rise to any occasion. Not only did they talk the talk, these kids really learned to walk the Habits of Mind walk as well.

So how do we get our students to develop these great traits of character?  No matter which traits you wish to build in your students, you must do so by using some habits of YOUR OWN...
That's right.
You have to use mind habits to build mind habits.  When you do, it adds up to the sum of Good Character Education Training.

Here are a few to get you started...

1. Be Honest - Keep your word to your students.  If you promise them extra recess for their hard work, follow through! Be someone they can trust and depend on.

2.  Take Charge - Identify the habits you wish to teach and look for books and resources to get the job done.  Below are some of the books I've used to start the school year.

3. Never Give Up - Repeat this over and over to your students - WE NEVER GIVE UP.  This goes for EVERYONE in the class.  We don't give up on ourselves and we don't give up on each other.  Ever.

4.  Set Goals - Learn how to set long and short term goals for your students.  Where do you want your students to be at the end of a lesson? A unit? The school year?  Always work backwards.  Working backwards is also known as "Understanding by Design."

5.  Strive to Be Accurate - We all have some days when a lesson just flops.  This is not a time for tears (although you may be crying on the inside that your fractions lesson seemed to be a lesson in Chinese for your students).  Instead, take your lesson plans and really take a look at them.  What changes will you make the next time you do that lesson? What can you improve the lessons that will take place next? Would a graphic organizer help?  How about manipulatives?   Could your original plans have been more accurate?

Also,  model how to be accurate after you make a mistake in front of your students.  "How do we fix this?" and "Have you checked over your work?" should be two questions commonly heard in your classroom.

6.  Know how to Prioritize - This goes back to the Understanding by Design mentioned earlier.  Know where your students need to be by the end of the year and make every effort to get them there however you can.  For instance, do you have a program in your school that just doesn't do enough to support the standards that will be tested at the end of the year?  If you want your kids to get to where you want them - sometimes you just have to go above and beyond the program. Is time an issue?  Try to think out of the box - perhaps something like small group workstations will give you more opportunities to meet with kids who need extra support in certain areas.

7. Take Care of Your Body, Mind and Heart - Simply said.  In order to be the best teacher you can be, you have to be the best YOU you can be.  Take care of yourself on all levels.  I know, I know, you  are probably well versed at putting yourself LAST - but promise me, once in a while, you'll do something special for you. {This doesn't have to be fancy...I know I'm thrilled for 20 quiet minutes in the morning with a cup of coffee before anyone in the house wakes up!}

Those were just 7 of the 12 Character Development Traits that I've included in my new poster set.  Hot off the press and just uploaded to TPT tonight...Educents and TN to follow!

And just for stopping by, I have a little freebie for you :)
I'm in the process of making some activity sheets to go along with each of the traits.

Grab them by clicking the picture below.  Let me know how you like them so far!

Have a great week everyone - I need to go TAKE CHARGE of my lesson plans for the week!


  1. I love this post! These posters are great too. This is something I feel passionate about. I am going to share this on my FB page. Nice job!

    :) Shelley

  2. Loved reading your post! Very informative. =)

  3. Hi Tracey,
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    We're hosting our 1st Annual NY/NJ TpT Mini-Meet and I was hoping you might be interested in attending. You can get more info from my blog:

    or just complete this google form:

    Hope to see you there!

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Notes For the Teacher