April 30, 2020

Four Ways to Encourage Integrity

In honor of National Honesty Day, (yes, that is a thing that takes place on April 30th) we are going to talk about integrity! Why you ask? Well, these concepts are closely related. Many people think integrity is synonymous with honesty, but author, Thomas R. Hoerr, tells us that integrity takes honesty one step further to action. Integrity pushes us to be better, do better, and it can also elevate the behavior of those around us. That being the case, integrity is not innate, so we must teach our students to act with integrity. While National Honesty Day might be the perfect day to do so, it is important that we teach, model, discuss, and behave with integrity every day. 

But let’s be honest…you might not have a lesson in your back pocket on integrity, so I’ll share four of my favorite ideas for embedding integrity into your classroom for just a day or all year long.

Idea #1: Use Quotes 

Quotes make excellent conversation starters and journal prompts to get students thinking, talking and writing. A quotation can provide inspiration for art projects, passion projects and even research projects. Teachers can use quotes as classroom décor to motivate and inspire and create a positive classroom atmosphere. Quotes can even be used to teach vocabulary, and we know development of a moral vocabulary is key to social emotional learning. Check out this great resource on how to use quotes in your classroom. Many of these can be adapted for online distance learning! No time to find your own quotes? Download my favorite quotes on honesty and integrity. 

Idea #2: Courageous Lessons 

In his new book, Taking Social Emotional Learning Schoolwide, Hoerr writes, “…integrity is a conscious choice that often requires courage.” Additionally, he states, “…integrity is manifested by taking a public stand and doing the right thing for others to see.” National Honesty Day or any day, for that matter, is a great day for a lesson about individuals who have taken a stand requiring courage and integrity. Craft a lesson about your favorite person or allow students to choose someone to research. Either way, be sure to include a discussion focused on sharing out new learning and personal reflections. Better yet, have students record their learning and reflection using Flipgrid

Idea #3: Read Aloud Books 

Every student enjoys being read to, even middle and high school students (although, they may not admit it). And if we can ensure there is a lesson to be learned from listening to the teacher read, even better. These books support the development of integrity: 

  • Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch 
  • Mr. Peabody’s Apples by Madonna 
  • Jamaica and the Substitute Teacher by Juanita Havill 
  • Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook by Barbara Park 

Need more options? Check out: Good Reads Recommendations for Honesty-Integrity. Many of these are available on Audible for students to listen themselves as well! Remember, simply reading the book isn’t enough. Take time to discuss it and how it relates back to the focus of acting with integrity. 

Idea #4: Show It 

Your students watch every move you make. As a teacher, you are in a powerful position to model and encourage integrity especially during challenging times. This does not have to be done through a formalized lesson, but instead can be achieved through using teachable moments. If you make a mistake, own it and share your realization with your students. When you have to make a decision, model your thinking using words like integrity, courage and honesty for them. When you see or hear of a student acting with integrity, point it out using specific praise. Imagine the power of all students learning a peer did the right thing and then all students hearing you praise and name that behavior as an act of integrity. Encourage your students to identify classmates or teachers who have shown integrity. In other words, show it often and talk about it even more. And yes, we can even show integrity in online distance education interactions! 

In Hoerr’s book, The Formative Five, he states, “…integrity is crucial to every sector of society.” For this reason, Learners Edge encourages you to choose one of these ideas to try with your learners in celebration of National Honesty Day, (April 30th if you are wondering). 

To learn more about teaching integrity in your classroom, check out Course 5041: Five Fabulous Skills for Your Students’ Lifelong Success

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