Classroom Touchstone Creed Assignment

ASSIGNMENT:  Now that we have looked at the different positive character traits and virtues, and reflected on the qualities found in a community of virtue, decide on a Touchstone Creed for your classroom that will be the vision that will frame everything that happens inside your classroom.

In general, a Touchstone is a basis of comparison, a reference point against which other things can be evaluated. It sets the measure for all subsequent worth.

A Character Touchstone is a concise, memorable guide to right behavior. It is not a complete moral system, but a summary that is easy to remember and to teach. It is a short list of rules to which you can refer automatically in moments of stress or indecision.  In a classroom (or school-wide) a Touchstone provides resonance, sets expectations and unifies.


 

I’ve had a lot of experience composing something like these touchstone creeds over the years, but I have to admit that I still found it intimidating.

Here’s the personal mission statement after reading Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits in 1994, while teaching at LA Lutheran Jr/Sr HS:

to be God’s clay pot
to refresh students with living water
to have a growing faith

Mission statement that our faculty developed at Los Angeles Lutheran Jr/Sr High in ’96:

We share Christ
disciple Christian believers,
and prepare students for college and life

Mission statement created for Boyer Valley Cheer Squad in 2002:

Positive, Committed Leaders
stirring-up spirit,
building excellence & character

Although, now that I’ve been using John Wooden’s 15 brick “Pyramid of Success,” I think it may be high time to revise and update that one.

I chaired the mission statement committee for St. John Lutheran Church in 2005:

Offering with open arms the love of Jesus

I created this for my teaching blog in 2007

Helping students be seen, not just heard &…
Challenging all students to meet their full potential

Perhaps my all time favorite touchstone is Henry Wallace’s
“Good Farming, Clear Thinking, Clean Living.”
If I taught FFA I think I’d have it painted on my classroom wall.

My wife frequently recites a slogan for her students from Jim Fay’s book ‘Teaching with Love & Logic,’
“Responsible, Respectful, and Fun to be around.”

One of the concepts I try to stress in Civics class is that we always need to consider that Civic Virtue = General Welfare = Common Good. Some of the principles I spend the most time teaching in Civics include Equality, Rights,Social Contract, Liberty, Justice, and Unity. Some of the things that my middle school colleagues and I at Boyer Valley have discussed that we hope to instill in our students are Respect, Responsibility, Empathy & Compassion (Caring).

I REALLY want to just adopt this quote from Teddy Roosevelt-
“Look up, not down- Look out, not in- Look forward, not backward- and lend a hand.”

Here’s one of the 2 final “Touchstone Creeds” I came up with-

MS CIVICS CLASSES (8th Grade):

We’re all responsible making this a learning space
We respect everyone’s rights & dignity
We show grit to grow & to try again when we fail
Everyone matters, everyone’s voice should be heard

I’ve always used structural frameworks to teach visual art. Discipline Based Art Education (DBAE) consists of Art History, Design/Aesthetics, of course actual Art Making and Art Criticism. Art Criticism involves critical thinking skills such as description, analysis, interpretation and evaluation. It’s always a challenge to get students to talk about each other’s work in a positive, supportive atmosphere. You always imagine a “creative community,” almost like a miniature artists’ colony in your classroom. Unfortunately immaturity and social dynamics don’t always permit that. Just a few of the virtues that I hope to have my Art students adopt are Respect, Responsibility, Caring, Expression, Vision, Curiosity, Creativity, Aesthetics. Those and keeping your hands off of other people’s projects and cleaning up after themselves!

So here is the other Creed I developed-

BV ART STUDENTS (7th-12th Grades):

We respect each other as artists
We push ourselves
We learn from mistakes
and celebrate each other’s successes

 

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