More than ever before, character and values needs to be an integral component of all it is we do. It has to be more than a program or an additional thing to do. It has to be embedded in how we connect with our students, to help them learn, and grow in both academics and character during these challenging times.

Overarching themes of CHARACTER COUNTS!
Mindset and beliefs shape behaviors.

  • Mindset: Our mental attitude, habit or disposition that influences  a person’s interpretations and responses to events and situations.
  • Beliefs: Our basic beliefs are called values reflecting the attributes that comprise our character for moral good or skills that motivate us to take action.
  • Behaviors: Is a reflection of our beliefs and demonstrated in what it is we do.

Approaches to the intentional and explicit teaching of CHARACTER COUNTS!

  • Best instructional practices: Strategies, pedagogies, classroom management techniques that are designed to actively engage students.
  • Infusion of character into academic curriculum: Embed the teaching of character skills into academic content making the connection to where the desired values and traits intersect with a lesson.
  • Organizational strategies: School committee prepares specific lessons or assembly programs around a monthly theme.
  • Free-standing character lessons: Using teacher-prepared lessons or resources from Today Counts, Way To Go, the CHARACTER COUNTS! App, or other curricular resources.


  • Our beliefs can be stated values or operational values. As you think about all that has happened in our society, your community, your school since the start of the pandemic, what would be the difference between stated and operational values?
  • The Six Pillars of Character are values that are ethically based and are all about moral right and good. But there are desired traits, though ethically neutral, that are important for student success. For you as a teacher, what are traits in the SEL domain that are important for student success?
  • What values, for good or bad, have you seen evidence of during this unprecedented time?
  • What techniques and tools can you use to intentionally and explicitly teach character and values this year?
  • If your school community is able to be positive, you can progress through the pandemic in safe, healthy ways and come out of this experience more united and resilient by focusing on acts of generosity, cooperation and patience towards others. Do you agree? If so, what can we do collectively to make this happen?

Hear more from Gary on Twitter – @GSmit4Character