What is ‘character’ you may ask? Oxford dictionary defines ‘character’ as a set of mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. Some examples of mental qualities include self-awareness, self-confidence and managing feelings when communicating with others, while moral qualities refer to honesty, loyalty, and good behaviour and habits. Both, mental and moral qualities, can be cultivated in students with the help of parents, schools, friends, tertiary education establishments and local communities.
In the first week of the second term, over Friday and Saturday, the Charis International School held a 2-day Character First workshop for the teachers and the board of governors. Mr KT from New Zealand, Malaysian born, conducted the workshop. Most of Friday was theoretical, giving information about who created the curriculum and the main reason behind its designing. Besides, Mr KT thoroughly explained several character qualities for us to have a better idea of their deeper meanings. During the discussion sessions, the teachers asked relevant questions and honestly shared their views. In addition, they were asked to name a few problematic behaviour examples (e.g., disrespect, laziness and bullying) that exist in their school. Afterwards, the facilitator drew their attention to the specific moral qualities that need to be instilled in the students in order to help them eliminate the above-mentioned negative behaviour patterns. No doubt, it is a long process that requires not only patience but also consistent delivery and adaptation of the curriculum. Mr KT also shared his approach to using parts of the curriculum on his own children, which proved to be effective in solving several common behaviour issues.
The second day of the workshop enabled the teachers to practise what they had learnt the day before by applying their knowledge in practice. Based on the primary Character First curriculum, the teachers were teamed up and instructed to create a 15-minute lesson. The aim was to raise the students’ awareness, the rest of the teachers acting as students, about a particular character trait as well as its importance through story-telling, hands-on activities, games, drama, songs and crafts. All the teachers were brimming with enthusiasm while designing and subsequently teaching their lessons. On Saturday afternoon, after the diligent preparation, the teachers presented their fun and engaging lessons containing fascinating stories, hands-on activities, action-packed songs and games. Everybody had a great time learning actively because I noticed many happy smiles lighting up the room during the learning process.
All in all, the teachers found the workshop well-organised, the facilitator experienced in engaging delivery and the information being enlightening. Most teachers especially enjoyed the practical component of the training. They said that they had learnt a few teaching strategies from their colleagues. Some teachers mentioned that the workshop had a successful balance between theory and practice. Sharing ideas and insights was also a wonderful way to build their knowledge of the subject.