Mrs. Hayes acted as a caregiver during my time at James B. Hunt High School. I spent three years in her classroom as an Early Childhood Education student. Lickona defines a caregiver as a teacher that can build self-esteem, help them succeed in school, and are loving and respecting towards their students (Lickona, 1991, p.72). Mrs. Hayes did this every day in her classroom through her daily interactions. Specifically, in how she would always approach my self-esteem. I really liked to participate in class, but often times feared of getting the answers wrong. I wanted to appear perfect. She tried to encourage me by giving me opportunities to answer the question, but redirect the answer even if I got them wrong. Lickona even advises his student teachers to do the same. He said that he tries to encourage them to try and find something in a child’s response they can affirm (Lickona,1991, p.74). That is exactly what she did. Thus, in turn helped me succeed in school. By encouraging me daily, I was able to maintain good grades in her class and stay on the A Honor Roll. I also recall the time I ran for student council president and lost. She was there to lend a shoulder when I was crying. I thought that the race had been rigged as a teacher’s son and popular student beat me, despite having no experience in student council. Her kind words and life lesson about fairness gave me character to persevere. However, her biggest role came outside of the classroom where she was both loving and respectful to myself and other students. Outside of school, Mrs. Hayes helped me find a part-time job, teach me about ethics in the working world, and allowed for me to babysit for her family. This relationship she built was both loving and respecting.
Mr. Pait is a great example of an ethical mentor. One way Lickona states that you can be an ethical mentor is by “providing moral instruction and guidance through explanation” (Lickona, 1991, p. 72). Mr. Pait used various techniques throughout his teachings in my English class to provide us with moral lessons. He always ended the class by saying “and the moral of the story is…” He also made connections to things that we liked, such as music. He would often play songs in the classroom on the radio and then discuss them with us, giving us real life examples of character and virtues. I recall that his most powerful way to correct you was with his red ink pen. Though you may feel that you were in trouble with his written notes, they were also powerful tools. Lickona said “sometimes a written note can be a very effective way to get a moral message across” (Lickona, 1991, p 86). That is exactly what he would do. I had once forgot the last question on my page and though the due date was past, I quickly tried to write it in as he was talking. Instead of calling me out in front of my peers, he simply wrote about it on the paper. I had never felt more disappointed in myself than I was that day; I was after all an honor roll student. He had the rapport with his students that just made you love him, despite his quirkiness. Perhaps it was the quirkiness that drew you to him and desire to learn more under him.
Lastly, Ms. Barnes is the best example of a teacher who could give you character education on a daily basis through her caring attachment. She was an ethical mentor. Lickona says that teachers “serve as ethical mentors by providing moral instruction and guidance through explanation (Lickona,1991, p 72). She was the best teacher on the job for storytelling. Every Chemistry class began and ended with a story. Some of the stories related to the content area and some stories were just simple antidotes on virtues of life relating to what was going on in the classroom or school at the time. She had the kind of story that could keep you engaged for hours. It felt like a movie was playing when she talked. I can remember most of them to this day. She gave time for class discussion, which Lickona believes is another way teachers can serve as an ethical mentor (Lickona, 1991, p 72); when she shared her antidotes, we would get off track with discussion and learn more from our discussions than our textbook. She was a great mentor. References
Lickona, T. (1991). Educating for character: How our schools can teach respect and responsibility. New York, N.Y.: Bantam.