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A Foundation of Love & Respect

When you try to implement a character education program from scratch, where do you start? The obvious answer was: respect. If there isn't respect, there will be no character education (and probably no good education at all!). So respect it was. But how do you define respect? If you ask 30 people around you you might have your share of "Uh," "Ho!" and "How long do I have?"

And this happened to us when we asked ourselves, what is respect? It is a really tough question, as respect is a very hard concept to define.

What made sense for us was to attach values to respect, and we came up with four values: Listening, Openness, Valuing and Empathy.

These values represent what respect should be in our school: The ability to truly listen to one another without prejudice and bias. Being open to other people and cultures, especially in our school where more than 20 countries are represented. Valuing people’s opinions, believing that you can learn from someone else’s experience and ideas. Empathy, the opportunity to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to understand their feelings, to be compassionate, and to try to help them.

This is how we created the House of Respect. We truly think that LOVE is the foundation, and that these strengths will allow students, especially if they are part of the program for 7 or 8 years, to be successful middle school students and citizens.

The first floor includes the character strengths that are very important elements of respect and help the student succeed socially.

The second floor shows the strengths that are highly important for our students to succeed academically.

The third floor includes strengths that are directly linked to the mission of the school.

The House of Respect is on display in every single classroom of the school and is a cornerstone for what and how we teach our students.

In our next post, we will talk about other key concepts such as growth mindset that we are working to emphasize.

- Yvan Tabellion, Fifth Grade French Teacher

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