08/30/2016, By Valley of the Sun United Way
Imagine being a teacher and your classroom is a football field. Your students have just hours to learn the basic subjects of reading, writing, and math. It’s down to the wire. But wait! You learn there’s more to a good education than hitting the books. Students also need to learn social skills.
That’s why Valley of the Sun United way is teaming up the NFL and the Arizona Cardinals to implement Character Playbook™ – Building Healthy Relationships, in hopes of scoring the ultimate touchdown with students!
It includes six online modules lasting 2-3 hours:
- Analyzing Influences
- Understanding and Managing Emotions
- Communicating Effectively
- Resolving Conflicts
- Stepping In
- Making Decisions
The program covers key concepts such as positive character development, social-emotional learning (SEL), and building healthy relationships. Students also engage in true-to-life scenarios.
“I really enjoy this program. My students enjoyed it over the summer. It mirrors the curriculum that I teach in one of my courses,” says Peoria Unified School District teacher Dave Fischer.
One of the scoring features, for him, is the decision making component.
Fischer teaches at the Peoria Flex Academy, a non-traditional school. He says the biggest challenge facing students today is balancing life, especially with social media. “From the 24 hour media bombardment – whether it’s TV, whether text – the speed of life.” He thinks Character Playbook™ – Building Healthy Relationships is an essential program.
Griffin Elementary Assistant Principal Peter Bartanen agrees. He says, “Kids come to us with a lot of needs. They need just as much help in their social and emotional health as they do with reading and writing.” Bartanen says a lot of that has to do with their home life and parents not spending a lot of time with their child. “Sometimes there are parents who are working really hard, working multiple jobs, and maybe the kids aren’t getting as much of an education at home as they need. So it’s our job as educators to support them.”
Principal Michael Halpert from Balsz Elementary School is still learning about the program but agrees with United Way and the Arizona Cardinals that kids need to be taken care of first. “Once a child is taken care of, then they’re open more for learning,” says Halpert.
“So we kind of go with the mentality that a kid is not just a test score. A kid is a child. And we take care of the child with things like character development, and social skills, and health and nutrition and physical health.”
Unlike football players who feel the immediate effects of getting pushed, shoved, and tackled, Halpert says, “The dangerous part is you don’t feel the pain if you don’t have an education until years later.” Today, he says you have to sell a child on the importance of an education.
So far, Character Playbook™ – Building Healthy Relationships seems to be a winning pass with teachers. As its success is measured, more schools might take possession of the program!