Building Character Education into Curriculum

This fall, Ranney Middle School (Tinton Falls, NJ) students will be studying more than algebra, world history, and literature—they will be learning about values and conflict resolution. A new program called G.R.I.T. is bringing character education to the classroom. Standing for Guided expectations, Respectful communication, Identifying solutions, and Transferring solutions to the community, the G.R.I.T. approach will engage students, advisors, and faculty members in setting appropriate community standards for respectful communication and constructive problem solving while teaching students skills they will need for high school and beyond.
“All Middle Schools are searching for ways to effectively have conversations around character development and leadership,” says Middle School Division Head Matt Hall. “The challenge is that no single program can work across all schools, so to best create one for the Ranney community, we decided to design one from scratch.”
By integrating character education into the curriculum, G.R.I.T. aims to enrich student-teacher relationships—a hallmark of independent schools like Ranney—and classroom management. Each month, Middle School advisory groups will focus on a theme, such as friendship, tolerance, or accountability. Using faculty-directed questions, students will discuss the themes in small groups during their daily advisory periods before diving deeper into the themes through role play and case studies. At the end of each month, advisory groups will have the opportunity to share what they learned—as well as any proposed strategies they developed—with the entire Middle School community. The second program component involves how students then act within the community with their peers and teachers.
“Not only will teachers have a universal language for interacting with students on common topics that affect this unique age group, but students will have an opportunity to take more ownership of their classroom experience.”

Does your school do something similar?

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