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Blog entry by Dimitris Tzalamouras

Newsletter April 2023, Pedagogical innovations for digital learning

Newsletter April 2023, Pedagogical innovations for digital learning


1. Act as a Role Model

Perhaps most importantly, a teacher needs to lead by example. Students--especially at a young age--will often copy the traits they see in their educator. When you act as a positive role model by exemplifying virtuous characteristics, you provide a consistent blueprint for younger students to replicate.

When teaching older students, leading by example is less about hoping for imitation and more about practicing what you preach. If you teach a lesson on respect but don't act respectfully, you're sending mixed signals about moral virtues.

Ultimately, your responsibility is to demonstrate that character development applies to everyone. You can achieve this goal by pointing to other role models within the community or celebrating students who display these positive traits.

2. Facilitate Goal Setting

As an intangible quality, personal change can be difficult to measure. Instead of expecting students to work toward some nebulous objective, draft a set of concrete goals together. Here are some examples:

I will take a theater class to build my confidence.

I will volunteer in my community for 10 hours every month as a way to do good for others.

I will journal every day to encourage deeper self-reflection.

By setting realistic character development goals as a class at the beginning of the year and revisiting them regularly, you can help students assess their progress, guiding changes in their behavior as needed.

3. Communicate Clearly

To ensure everyone is on the same page, set transparent expectations around character development at the beginning of the year. When students exhibit positive character traits, congratulate and encourage them. Similarly, highlight opportunities where they could have demonstrated greater responsibility.

By creating an environment of clear communication, all parties can recognize where their character development is strong and where it can improve. And remember: healthy communication needs to move in both directions. Try creating an "open-door policy" that gives each student a chance to provide feedback.

4. Encouraging Volunteering

As one of the primary examples of the "Civic Virtues" pillar, volunteering is often overlooked. Community involvement is an excellent way for students to make a difference and practice a wide range of character skills, including:

  • Citizenship 
  • Compassion 
  • Gratitude 
  • Resilience 
  • Resourcefulness 
  • Service

As an educator, you can leverage your connections to organize volunteering
opportunities for students in both your local community and school community.

5. Assign Relevant Readings

If the idea of teaching character development all by yourself concerns you, that's okay--you don't have to do it alone. In fact, you couldn't even if you tried. Holistic character development requires input from multiple diverse perspectives.

With that in mind, look for ways to incorporate growth-oriented literature into your curriculum. Look for books and articles relevant to both the course and character development. Leaning on literary sources from diverse voices is a terrific way to eschew the one-size-fits-all approach to personal development.


Character development is a critical skill for students of all ages and concentrations. While the importance of strong character education has been touted for decades, some institutions are truly outstanding when it comes to recognizing this need. Those are the schools you should look to for guidance and training.

How to Incorporate Character Development in the Classroom

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