What does it mean for a school to teach strong ethics? In Isabel’s words, “it starts early and small” with activities in preschool like sharing toys, forming a line, cleaning up after yourself, saying “thank you” and “please.” Later, in lower school, teaching strong ethics looks like circle time each morning when topics like “friendship” or “respect” is the topic or the “compliments jar,” where Mrs. Russo puts a sugar cube in each time she or any other adults compliment the kids in her class for polite behavior.
Later, in middle school, when the child mind grows and can understand words like honor and integrity, teaching ethics goes deeper as defined in ceremony with the signing of the Honor Code. Middle school students learn the definition of integrity, and as they sign their names to a large group contract, together they promise to be fair, to respect each other’s work, and to be honest.
These examples and Isabel’s commencement address are a short summary of what for her was a decade of practicing strong ethics at a school where consistency and partnership pay off. No school can do it alone, which is why it is the partnership with the community of Lexington School parents and guardians of the children that makes the difference.
Here are 5 ways independent schools can partner with parents to teach children strong morals and ethics:
- Consistency. School teachers and administrators maintain high standards and expectations of moral and ethical behavior for their students and for themselves. Each day every week of every year, not only do teaching moments happen organically, but also they are planned and executed consistently.
- Sharing. Teachers and administrators share specific expectations of ethical conduct with parents and ask that the same expectations are prioritized at home too.
- Communication. Open and frequent communication between teachers and parents regarding ethical and moral behaviors are the norm. Even if daily communication is needed to reinforce the teaching of positive emotional growth and behavior, then that is what happens.
- School Leaders. School counselors and administrators share news, articles, and resources with parents. Examples are Head of School Chuck Baldecchi’s monthly Head’s Letter like “#ThatsNotOkay”, Jane Childers, Director of The Learning Center’s informative Twitter feed, or former administrator Marijo Foster’s “Weekly Words” of wisdom. (Soon to come via e-book for you too).
- Parents. Independent school parents represent a vast expertise, and as engaged partners who practice open dialogue with the school, parents reciprocate in sharing outside resources too.
Teaching children strong ethics is the signature of independent schools like The Lexington School where developing the whole individual child is a mission-driven prerogative.
If you want to know more or would like a sneak peek of Marijo Foster’s “Mark My Words” e-book on Manners, contact us and we’ll gladly send it to you.