KIPP’s longstanding motto — “Work hard. Be nice.” — isn’t just a tagline. Since KIPP's beginning in 1994, the development of character has been as important to us as the teaching of rigorous academic skills. Together, they are the yin-yang that make our schools come alive. We believe both are critical to the success of our students in college and life.
About KIPP's Character Work
KIPP offers teachers, kids, and parents a structured, meaningful way to talk about and develop character. Our approach is rooted in the research of Dr. Martin Seligman (Universityof Pennsylvania) and
Building off of a research partnership between KIPP NYC and Dr. Angela Duckworth (University of Pennsylvania), KIPP is now especially focused on seven highly predictive strengths: zest, grit, self-control, optimism, gratitude, social intelligence, and curiosity. We’ve integrated our own experiences as teachers with the research of Seligman, Peterson, and Duckworth to create a road map for the development of each strength. For example, to help teachers, kids, and parents develop grit we ask them to reflect on whether they try very hard after experiencing failure.
KIPP schools around the country are now focused on how we can integrate a more structured and measurable approach to character development.
Seven Keys for Implementing Character in Your School
1. Believe It and Model It: Breathe life into the James Baldwin quote: “The children are ours. Every single one of them… children have never been very good at listening to their elders but have never failed to imitate them.”
2. Name It: Give the intangible and often-unnamed a name. Only by labelling and talking about the character strengths that Martin Seligman and Chris Peterson identified can we embark on the journey to develop them.
3. Find It: Introduce kids to real-world and fictional examples that display the various character strengths.
4. Feel It: Help kids and adults feel the positive effects of focusing on, and developing, their own character strengths.
5. Integrate It: Create dual-purpose experiences and lessons that involve the character strengths. Learn more about how character is integrated into the KIPP Framework for Excellent Teaching.
6. Encourage It: Provide people with growth mindset praise (i.e. precise, descriptive praise) around character.
7. Track It: Record and discuss progress toward character goals regularly.
Incorporating Character Into Your Classroom
Watch the in-depth video below to hear more from parents, teachers, and students about each character strength, and learn more about how to incorporate the character strengths into your classroom.
Infusing Lessons with Character:
Examples of how we talk about character in our classrooms:
Examples of how we incorporate character in classroom activities:
KIPP’s character work is made possible by the support of the Raikes Foundation. The Foundation is committed to helping adolescents develop the mindsets and learning strategies that will help them succeed in school and become healthy, contributing adults. We would like to express our gratitude to the Raikes Foundation for their continued commitment to the character development of our KIPPsters.
Videos by ListenIn Pictures.
KIPP is committed to equal treatment for all individuals. KIPP does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, disability, age, religion, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin.
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