Monday, August 27, 2012

Let’s Teach Integrity!

integrityIn Teaching Integrity in the Classroom from Tips For New Teachers and Student Teachers, Sam suggests,

“Again, I encourage teachers to spend a few minutes in class and ask the question, ‘What does it mean to be a person of  integrity?’”

Sam asked us to comment on this but I decided to write my own post about this. Integrity is the most important characteristic that a person could have. I feel that this is something no one can ever take away from you but once you have lost it, it is hard to get people to ever respect you again.

The sad thing is that not only do students not know what integrity is but I think many adults don’t know what it is either.

For me, integrity means doing the right thing. This is a really hard concept for many students, especially if they are in the developmental stage of “it’s all about me!”

Through the many years of teaching, I have been asked by students, parents, or administrators to do things that I truly did not believe was the right thing. It is easy to respond to students and parents because I just explained that I felt it was wrong and I could lose my job. It was at times when administrators wanted me to do something I felt was wrong that I knew I had to find a new school. I refused to do something that I knew in my heart was wrong because I couldn’t live with myself. Integrity means a lot to me. This means keeping my promises and not lying because I believe in doing the right thing. Staying true to my integrity (and listening to my gut feelings at times when I had no evidence to do otherwise) has helped me hold my head up high, get others to respect me, and be successful in most of the things that I do.

One way that I would bring this up in class is give different scenarios and have the students discuss the ways they would act. I try to explain to them that they need to think about how they would feel if they were the other person. During these discussions, I insist that they are serious about their discussion and no wisecracks. I think this is almost a “behavior drill” like a fire drill but prepares students for situations they may encounter. These drills can bring up topics like bullying, stealing, lying, cheating, etc. Situations can include asking how they would react if it happened to them or if they observed this behavior.

How can we expect students to do the right thing if they don’t know what the right thing is? Maybe there is more than one right way to act. If they are prepared, they might not react inappropriately but will have the tools to do the right thing.

Integrity is a hard characteristic to teach. How would you teach it? Please share.

Image: 'Passenger (Sheung Wan)'


Alex | Perfecting Dad said...

What a great question. You know, I'm pretty sure that most people, in most circumstances, would be able to parrot an response that maintained integrity. For example, even thieves know that stealing is wrong on the surface, yet they steal. The difficulty is when people have the real choice to make and that's when they fall down. I believe in setting up real situations and analyzing real responses. In school there are plenty of opportunities. Cheating, laziness, lying, etc.

loonyhiker said...

@ Alex/Perfecting Dad You are so right! Parroting doesn't always mean they understand or believe. Real life situations definitely open up the opportunities for important discussions!