We learn more about character from a life than a lesson. You can use stories in your classroom to help your students explore how other people navigate stress tests of character.
Start by reflecting on these questions:
Who are the women and men in my field who have inspired me? What stories have I encountered that have influenced my understanding of this field?
What other stories can I seek out? Teens crave role models and exemplars — and when we offer them rich, diverse stories, they can start to see themselves in the narrative.
After you identify a “stress test story,” engage students in critical thinking with guiding questions such as these:
Context:What is the context of this story? What internal and external factors contributed to this moment/situation?
First Reactions:Imagine you were in this situation. What first reactions would be understandable under the circumstances? What emotions might a person experience?
Possible Responses: What are the array of possible choices this person had in front of them -- and what would be the potential consequences of each?
Motivation: What might be guiding this individual’s decision making and why?
Character Strengths: In this situation, what virtues/strengths are being tested? What virtues/strengths would they need to make the best possible decision?
Actual Responses:What did the person in the story ultimately choose to do? What does this suggest about his/her character? Who was affected? In hindsight, what do we know now that might have been valuable insight to this person?
As you explore stress test stories, the people your students meet will become points of reference for future discussions in the classroom -- and will inspire students when they face their own stress tests of character.