Teachers: They’re among the most vital and influential figures in a child’s life. Not only do they impart academic knowledge — literacy, mathematics, the sciences, and more — but they also serve as models to children as they develop the life skills that they’ll need to succeed beyond their years in the classroom.
For two decades, Relay and KIPP Co-Founder Dave Levin has shown us that schools can be places where children learn how to both “work hard” and “be nice.” As the instructor of Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms on the free, open-enrollment course platform Coursera, Levin has taught thousands of people from nearly 200 countries how to help their students develop all-important character qualities — like the grit they’ll need to persevere through challenging academic material.
Now, Relay and Coursera are making Teaching Character available to users around the world — on demand. It’s an opportunity for everyone — not just the teachers among us — to learn how both academics and character are not only important, but interdependent.
“It should not be about whether I’m teaching rigorous academics or I’m teaching character strengths, like grit and self-control and zest and social intelligence and gratitude,” Levin says in the course preview. “There is a way to combine academic rigor and character development.”
Essentially, Teaching Character synthesizes the professional development sessions that Levin has led for the last seven years. Filmed over visits to five schools and four universities in three states, the course combines Levin’s own work with K-12 educators with his lessons from some of the top psychologists, sociologists, and neuroscientists in the country.
Throughout the course, participants will hear from Levin as he interviews these researchers and explains their work. They’ll also get an inside look at how K-12 educators are applying that research in classrooms at public and private schools, and they’ll explore how they can apply lessons learned in the course to their own work with students.
To help participants execute what they learn on Monday morning, Teaching Characteralso comes with a complimentary classroom implementation guide. Consisting of handouts, PowerPoint decks, and two 90-minute lesson plans, it’s designed to help teachers translate Levin’s lessons from the screen to their classrooms.
“Our goal is that you will leave [the course] being able to weave the development of character strengths into all aspects of your practice,” Levin says, “as a teacher, as a coach, and as a parent.”
To explore Teaching Character and other free online courses, please visit Relay’s portal on Coursera.
Teaching Character tie-in: This week, Relay is hosting a three-day workshop called the "Teaching Character Summer Institute," in which we are sharing character education with teachers and athletic coaches in a dynamic, in-person format. Follow Relay on Twitter and Facebook for full coverage of the event.