Character Strong needs changes for next year

Character Strong is a character developing program paid for by the school system to help kids develop character and coping skills. The program is used in all 50 states, 21 countries, with over 100,000 teachers trained and 3.2 million students impacted. These lessons are presented via slideshow. Teachers walk students through activities and discussions, but not everyone has the most positive opinion of Character Strong. 

In investigating it, I found that lots of teachers would prefer to stay off record. For benefits, one teacher said, “There’s less interpretation for the teachers, and the topics covered are important,” but when discussing the timeliness of the lessons, teachers said they thought it’s impossible to finish in 30 minutes, and I found that students agree the lessons should be shortened. 

Some of the downfalls of Character Strong according to teachers is the lack of flexibility. Teachers think that the topics are important but wish that the lessons were more personalized to the students and current events. As this is a “canned curriculum,” the issues discussed are broad and not specific to current events or students’ own needs. 

When it comes to seeing a change in students, teachers gave a flat no to seeing any impact. Others said that the changes they had seen were not because of Character Strong and instead were because of the circumstances of this year and the struggles we have all faced. Teachers also said they see students making a mockery of Character Strong and not taking it seriously. Teachers said they feel this curriculum is less genuine than the lessons made by their co-workers prior.

The Character Strong curriculum has good potential; the lessons and ideas are important, but we need something tailored by the teachers to current events and more connected to students here. Also, maybe we should be measuring the lessons to see if they are impacting students. Start with a pretest at the beginning of the year and follow up with a post test at the end to gauge the impact of the lessons.

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