5 Character Education Lessons That Will Transform Your Classroom Behavior

5 character lessons that will transform your classroom behavior

Don’t worry; we’ve all been there! No matter what grade you teach, you will eventually run into negative behavior. There will always be students who have a hard time not getting their way, students who lash out, and even students who like to test the water until waves start to form. You know what I mean! This is a main reason why so many teachers are turning to character education.

It’s the days when every classroom management tactic you can think of is failing, and you’re ready to pull your hair out in frustration. Those are the moments where you realize something has got to give. Anything would be better than constantly threatening to take away smiley faces or dealing with a chart that is just not effective anymore. 

YES, behavior management tools are important! I’m not saying throw all the charts and treasure boxes to the wind. But what I am saying is, wouldn’t it be nice not to rely on these tools as your sole form of classroom management? 

Students who misbehave are usually lacking certain social-emotional skills that help to cope with specific situations. 

This is why character education is so important. It is not something you fit on your plate; it IS your plate. Social-Emotional Learning Lessons should be implemented into every classroom to build on the foundation of critical skills students need to succeed in class and everyday life. 

If you have a rowdy classroom, it’s never too late to start character lessons that strengthen these skills! Here are 5 character lessons that will completely transform the negative behavior in your classroom! 

(P.S. You’ll find a true story from a fellow teacher who had incredible results when applying SEL lessons to her classroom!)

Character Education Lesson Plans: Growth Mindset 

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Have you taught a student who will start something, then get frustrated and just quit at the first sign of opposition? You have to constantly encourage them to keep trying, but they continue to put up a wall and eventually shut down. It is so frustrating to see a lack of self-confidence in children you see so much potential in!

This is why teaching your students to have a positive growth mindset is so important. Children can get flustered and lose determination fast when facing obstacles, especially when things don’t turn out the way they pictured. 

This SEL lesson is based on teaching students how to overcome frustration, accept the learning curve, and continue to do their best until they reach their goals. Not only do students learn how to apply this to their own struggles, but they can also use this skill to encourage their peers not to give up. 

Character Education Lesson Plans: Coping with emotions

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Okay, here’s a big one. When I think of the many strong emotions seen in the classroom before, this is what I think of:

  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Nervousness
  • Loneliness
  • Sadness

There are so many feelings your little ones experience, and to them, these emotions can be SO big. They even experience excitement and other positive feelings in an overwhelming way, too. 

No matter the specific age you teach, your students are still kids who are learning how to cope with their big emotions. (Honestly, some adults still struggle with this, too!) They become easily overstimulated, and then they don’t know what to do with all of the feelings that keep building and building inside… until they explode. 

When students don’t have the proper coping mechanisms and lash out, it can ultimately cause issues in the classroom. With this lesson, they learn how to productively deal with their intense emotions by finding calm ways to express themselves. 

Imagine if every student in your classroom strengthened their coping skills. There would be less whining when it’s not their turn to be a helper again. They would better navigate frustration with school work and would be able to communicate their feelings better. That sounds like a dream, right? Nope! It can be your reality!

In my opinion, this is one SEL lesson that should be taught in every grade! Learning to work through emotions in a healthy way is such a vital skill! 

Character Education Lesson Plans: Manners

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This social skills lesson aims to teach how a simple please and thank you can go a long way. Having manners is part of being respectful to others and exemplifying how you want others to treat you.

You can help your students understand why it is essential to have good manners and what a difference it can make in their relationships. They will also learn about what it means to be kind to others. 

Spreading kindness through the classroom can only result in a joyful room! This is a great lesson to help build peer relationships, as well.

Character Education Lesson Plans: Overcoming Fear

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Fear is a toughie. Unfortunately, it’s linked to many sources we teachers cannot usually reach. The important thing, despite this, is that we can at least try to teach our students how to not let fear control them!

This lesson has a great way of explaining fear to children and what they can do when they feel scared. They learn how to face their fears so that they can overcome them! Whether it be fear of failure on a big test, fear of trying new things, or even a fear of opening up to make new friends. 

When students are encouraged to not let this emotion control them, they will feel more confident and brave in the classroom, with their friends, and in their schoolwork. 

Character Education Lesson Plans: Our Actions Affect Others

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I cannot even count the number of times I have heard, “Now, what do you think would have happened to ‘so-and-so’ if you did that?!” or anything similar in the school system. 

Kids are the first to do something before thinking, and that almost always ends in a teachable moment. Maybe not one we would hope for, but at least one they can possibly learn from. Right?

Students need to know that every action they make has a reaction. What they do can eventually affect everyone around them, and they have a choice to make this a positive chain reaction or a negative one. This lesson helps to show what can happen if just one person were to spread kindness. They can follow along in the mentor book to see the actual domino effect take place.

A story from a fellow teacher:

“I once had the smartest kid I’ve ever met in my class. He was milestones beyond his current grade level in many areas and blew me away with his math and reading skills! He was also the most rambunctious student in the grade. He would act out in such big ways that it often ended in administrative help! He was the absolute sweetest kid and truly meant well with most things; he was just simply bored. (Note: I taught Pre-K at this time, and he was reading on 2nd-3rd grade level chapter books!)

Eventually, during a chat with a behavior specialist, I found out the source of his behavior was not completely boredom. It was a lack of social-emotional skills that helped him cope with his big emotions and make positive decisions. 💡

He quickly became a leader in our classroom, and not in a good way. His rambunctiousness spread like wildfire some days! It would literally feel like putting out little fires running around the room! Something quickly had to be done. 

✨This is where character education transformed my classroom.✨

When I made a point to implement these lessons daily in small ways, I saw a shift in my student’s behavior. It was ultimately teaching them life skills that are vital to any age, even adults. Still, the impact it had on behavior was astonishing. 

No more metaphorical fire extinguishers were needed, and our classroom community grew stronger. Now, that’s not to say there were no sparks of negative behavior (I mean, they are still kids), but there was a dramatic decrease in the wildfires that consumed us before!

If you haven’t yet, make Social-Emotional Learning and character education a PRIORITY in your classroom. You won’t regret it.”

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