Imagine being a musher in the Iditarod. You spend your life practicing, preparing, building your team, making mistakes and learning from them. You can buy all of the fancy cold weather gear that money can buy, but without a strong set of core values, like integrity, courage, and compassion, you may not get very far.
Esse Quam Videri
It’s a Latin term, meaning “to be, rather than to seem” that the community at The Boys’ Latin School takes to heart. In their Values-based approach to educating the young men of Baltimore, you see strong examples of intentional teaching that help to create great compassionate leaders.
When Stephanie Lange, 5th grade teacher at Boys’ Latin, teaches her students about the Iditarod, she not only teaches the mechanics of what the teams experience and have to do to prepare, she ties each lesson in with what character traits were necessary for success. “We teach core values in everything we do each day,” she explains. “When I teach my students about the Iditarod or Native Americans or other topics in class, we talk about what core values they possess and how it helped to make them successful.”
Her favorite success? The “Little Buddies” program that she and her fifth graders participate in each week. She spends time in class, preparing her students to be strong role models for their kindergarten and pre-first buddies. She works with her students on ways to have positive conversations, care for others, help their buddies when they have big feelings, and ways to make them feel special. The students then, in turn, each week spend time with their buddies reading together, having lunch together, and building a strong relationship complete with real- world skills that will last through the years.
Ann Jung, a second grade teacher at Boys Latin, was overwhelmed with pride when watching one of her students really “get into” the lesson she was teaching in dramatic reading. “He was reading the script aloud, when all of the sudden you could see a light switch go on in his mind, and he read with such expression and even sang a part! His classmates were all excited for the gifts that he’d shared, and watching all of this brought a tear to my eye. I love that we are able to really take the great strengths and talents that our boys have to share and help them find ways to offer their gifts to the world. Taking time to work as a team to help each child live a purpose driven life is really what it’s all about.”
Ann is also finding success with her writing series entitled “Being a Writer” (published by Developmental Studies Center). “The series has a dual focus: Academics and Social/Ethical learning,” she explains. “Students not only learn how to write, they also learn ways to be a part of the community. We teach ways to give appropriate responses, respectful and helpful feedback and to be a thoughtful community member. The series teaches ‘Talking Stems’ which are ways to phrase feedback to others in respectful, productive ways. While they work well in the writing process, I noticed one of my students using them in the lunch room when he noticed potential conflict. It was one of those ‘Aha!’ moments where you feel like all of your hard work has paid off.”
In addition to thoughtful classroom activities, each grade in BL’s lower school has a core value that they work each day to identify and exemplify. Caring, respect, citizenship, compassion, courage, integrity are just a few. Shirelle Flowers, lower school counselor visits classrooms each week to teach character values lessons and works with students both individually and in small groups when issues arise. “Through our ‘Live Like a Laker’ lessons, we are able to embody what it means to do things like show compassion, be respectful, express gratitude and accept responsibility.”
Learning at Home
Wondering how you can use these types of lessons at home? Ms. Flowers recommends the following resources:
- The A-Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids by Dr. Jean Mann Roots of Empathy by Mary Gordon
- Teach Your Children Well by Madeline Levine, Ph.D.
- UnSelfie by Dr. Michele Borba
This article is sponsored by The Boys’ Latin School of Maryland as part of our Cool School Partners series. Read more about Boys’ Latin in our Independent Schools Directory or call them at10-377-5192, ext. 1137. Lead photo provided by Boys’ Latin. Article photo by Laura Black.