Do We Need to Explicitly Teach Good Person Skills?
In my early teaching years, the 13-17 years olds walking into my class had manners and treated me with respect. I expected "Please" and "Thank you", help when I was struggling, "God Bless You" after a sneeze, and care if I was upset. They would write a "Thank You" card with delight and ease. Twenty-four years ago many of my high school students had "good person skills." "I have seen a significant decline in the last ten years, have you? Kids, in general, are different than they used to be. Something is not right.
Do we need to be more intentional and more explicit? We need to teach attitude, behaviors, skills, and actions to help our students succeed in the world and help make it a better place than it is now. As teachers and parents, it is our responsibility to teach them what it means and looks like to be a good person. We must show and teach the skills and qualities to be a happy, productive, kind, and hopeful friend, family member, employee, leader, and human!
What is the definition of Good Person?
What does it mean to be a good person? What are the skills a good person needs? Looking for synonyms of "good person," the thesaurus says moral, ethical, good, right, upright, upstanding, fine, excellent, of highest moral quality, of the highest standard, admirable. These words used to mean the same thing to everyone, but it does not seem so cut and dry to our students as our world changes. The opposite of good is bad, wicked, immoral, unethical. Do they know what these words mean? Do they care?
We have to do something!
As we watch laws change and hear of unspeakable actions in our country, it is not so easy for our students to define right from wrong, good from bad, righteous from evil. I hear too many stories of teachers quitting because of their disrespectful students. I have taught several students who cast spells and drew upside-down crosses on papers. We see terrible online and in-person bullying, kids telling other kids to kill themselves. However, they have heard about kindness their entire lives! There has been a severe moral decline as the lines are blurred between what is right and wrong. On the news, at school, on social media, our students constantly receive conflicting signals. It must be very confusing for any person growing up today.
Most students want to be a good person, but sometimes they don't know how. Some have not had a model in their life to show them and teach them. They spend hours watching random strangers tell them things and show them things, and even interact with random strangers who want to lure them into danger. They play video games and shoot people, watch movies that "purge" people, see news stories of stealing with no consequence, and seem desensitized to all that is wrong and bad! We need to be intentional about teaching our tweens and teens what it means to be a good person vs. a lousy person. They need to understand what good person skills are necessary for a fulfilling and meaningful life of integrity. We need to take responsibility, and we must expect our students to learn to do the same!!
What are the skills of a good person?
There are so many skills and things to learn about being a good person! It would be best if every child had 4 consistent, caring adults in their lives, who were all great role models of character, attitude and skill. Let's name just some of the qualities and actions of a good person.
- A moral and ethical person who does the right thing when no one is looking - who does not steal or beat people up.
- A kind person who helps someone out if they see them struggling - who does not film on their phone as someone is being beaten, hurt, harassed, or killed. A person who can accept others with different opinions or beliefs. A person who does not cancel others who are different than they are.
- An honest and truthful person who tells the truth in love and does not lie try to get away with something or make excuses.
- A humble peacemaker who knows how to ask for forgiveness when they wrong someone and can take responsibility for their errors. They do not make excuses, blame others, or lie. They do not push their ideas on others. They humbly forgive as well and move on.
- A great friend who is loyal and faithful, respects their friends and accepts them as they are. One who honors their thoughts and opinions, though different from their own.
- A friendly person who smiles at others and helps out strangers, an encourager, a complimenter. They are not rude or impatient, and they do not yell at others in public. They know how to meet new people and hold face-to-face conversations.
- A grateful person who knows how to express gratitude and knows not one owes them anything. They do not expect special treatment for any reason.
- A person with respect and manners who treats people with dignity no matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like. Someone who respects others despite the color of their skin, what they believe, how much money they make, or who they know. They do not think people need to earn their respect; they simply show respect, because humans deserve dignity. Period.
Learning and the Brain
I am taking a NeuroScience class and learning about our brain and how we best learn. I am learning how to be more intentional about my teaching, activity choice, word choice, and engaging all the lobes of the brain with my lessons. I am learning to incorporate a design focused on the best way our brains learn.
In my Good Person Skills Lessons for middle and high school students, you will get them thinking and talking about these crucial topics. The bundle of 5 is available, or they are available independently. The subjects I have tackled so far are Kindness, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Encouragement, and Friendship. Next up has to be Respect, Compassion, Acceptance, so many more... I've got a lot of work to do.
Included are a challenge question, activities to avoid Amygdala Hijack (when our amygdala is stressed- causing fight, flight, freeze or fawn), multiple perspectives, reflection, revised thinking, reporting out, and resonating with the information. Each lesson has questions, video, journaling, activities, and notecards to send to others to practice the skill. By creating a safe, comfortable, and FUN atmosphere, your students will relate and connect as they explore good person skills in our confusing world. Make them want to be a good person!
So again, YES, PLEASE, for the sake of humanity! We need to start early and be intentional at home and in school, teaching our students about the qualities, characteristics, and skills necessary to be a good person. Take time out of teaching content and get them thinking about their character.
Our future depends on it!
Teachers - Click the image below and check out my Good Person Skills Lessons on TPT.