2018 Survey Results: A Focus on Character

In this fourth installment of survey results, we examine what teachers say about their students’ character. We also publish the observations about education that rose to the top for many educators.

Image courtesy Victor Bezrukov

What strengths and needs do you observe in your students’ characters?

Educators develop more than a math sense and a love for reading. You train the characters of your students. In turn, character development allows students to learn better, and to apply their knowledge to good ends.

We asked teachers to describe their students’ character strengths and needs. Each respondent could offer up to three words or phrases describing their students’ strengths and three for their needs. The results are non-scientific, and we took the liberty to edit responses lightly to allow similar responses to be grouped.

Other Character Strengths (One or Two Responses)

acceptance, active, adventure, ambition, asking hard questions, attention, carefree, carefulness, Christian, collaborative, compassionate, competitive, conscientious, consideration, driven, efficiency, exuberance, forgiveness, fun, getting along, good attitude, good behavior, gratitude, grit, growth, helpfulness, hilarious, imagination, improvisation, industry, inspiration, integrity, interest in learning, involvement, joy, leadership, love for singing, maturity, memorizing skill, neatness, openness, responsibility, seeking, sensitivity, social skill, sparkle, sponges, spontaneity, study skills, supportive, sweetness, systematic, talkative, teachable, thirst for education, thoughtfulness, unselfishness.

Other Character Needs (One or Two Responses)

accountability, assured, attentive, avoiding argument, awareness of others, caring, committed, compassionate, considerate, consistent, content, conviction, creative, critical thinking, depth, discerning, dyslexia, encouraging, engaged, filling a bucket, freedom from prejudice, generosity, gentle, global awareness, good sports, gratitude, guided by priorities, humble, imaginative, independent, keeps moving, listening to others, maturity, motivated, not complacent, not overly meticulous, not tattlers, not trying to run the classroom, one-on-one time, peacemaking, planning, pleasant, politeness, precise, punctual, reverent toward authority, secure, servant attitude, social graces, stable, study habits, submissive, trusting, trustworthy, values time, cheerful.

A teacher also noted dyslexia and sensory processing disorder as areas that affect some students.


The children in our schools demonstrate an overwhelming degree of zest for their learning: energy, curiosity, excitement, enthusiasm, cheerfulness, and eagerness are top words to describe their strengths. This zeal is not always accompanied by discipline; many teachers note their students’ need for carefulness and neatness, diligence, discipline, and responsibility.

As is the case for any generalizations, these character profiles do not necessarily describe any individual student. No parent or teacher will be surprised at the variations within the results. While 9 respondents noted their students’ diligence, 11 respondents described diligence as a primary need among their students. Respect, kindness, and care for others likewise are strengths for some students and needs for others. However, the survey indicates the character areas in which many of our homes and schools are doing well, and likewise the character areas in which many of our students need growth.

What Is One Important Thing You Learned This Year about Education? (Part 2)

We asked educators to offer one insight they’ve discovered in the past year. In the previous post, we published ten responses to this question. Here are the remaining 39. (Some educators contributed several observations.)

Not all students will be on the same level, regardless of my efforts.

That students can LOVE to write when you make it a habit every day.

Getting your students to write is one of the best things you can do for them.

That our enemy can so easily build off our pride, sowing suspicion, which can lead to division in the school and church.

No child will “get” everything.

My spiritual and emotional health is just as important / has more impact on the success of a school day then does being perfectly, minutely prepped for each class.

We are doing Art as Idea this year. This is a new concept in our community, extracting ideas placed into pictures by artists. I especially value the work of Rembrandt for this.

I learned that in an environment that they feel safe in students will be very open. They will ask honest questions. This has caused me to care deeply about creating a safe, warm, environment for learning.

My students will remember how I made them feel more than what they learned in the classroom.

Education doesn’t replace experience…

Education needs accountability.

Though education and eloquence may win the debate, wisdom will win in life.

How vital patience is, and a love for my students. They quickly sense when you’re frustrated.

Difficulties last term can lead to pleasure this year.

Education is vital for life skills.

That I need to communicate with parents better.

In order for students to enjoy their academics, it needs to be connected with the beauty of God and create desire.

Something I really have come to appreciate this year is how much time and effort parents put into helping their children.

Personal development is so important.

Humility is essential.

Student attitudes make such a difference, and the ones with the most knowledge or skill are not necessarily the ones with the best attitudes! ?

Giving students performance opportunities to SHOW/USE what they are learning can really boost the energy and enthusiasm needed to actually learn the material.

This year I learned that, in order to have a coherent strategy for education, we need to have a very clear idea of who our primary stake-holders are. (Church? Community? Individual?)

It takes endless support and resources.

The best thing I can do for my students is to love God with all my heart, soul and mind.

Parental and school board support is invaluable!

How to use Orton Gillingham principles in the normal classroom.

Do your best and let the rest.

Reaching the hearts of our students is more important than them growing intellectually. In fact, if we reach their hearts, the rest will happen more effectively.

My personal life (outside of school) affects my students and how I teach them.

They (students) want to. They might show otherwise. They might not know they want to. They find out they want to.

This year I have been reminded of the importance of young teachers. Obviously the level of experience is less but the idealism they bring to the job has been refreshing.

Background knowledge has a larger influence on reading comprehension than reading skills.

Good note-taking needs to be taught and modeled, and it makes a significant difference in student learning. https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/note-taking/

I need to face/process my personal fears and insecurities in order to meet the needs of my students.

Students learn so much better in a non-threatening, strongly encouraging environment.

It is arduous and long.

Trello is a great way to organize tasks.

…that effective teachers are made and not born. We must invest more time and energy into developing teachers, both before they begin and and after they are in the harness.

The idea that certain students need content presented in specific ways (learning styles) is largely false. The more intelligences that a teacher engages in a lesson, the better.

Over my years of teaching I’ve learned that the average student wants to excel. Likely if they’re not achieving it’s because they can’t, not because they don’t want to.

As teachers, we have the tendency of developing tunnel vision. That behavioral issue or this academic struggle becomes the thing that takes up most of our time and emotional energy. While these do need our attention, our classrooms should always be viewed in light of the bigger story. Perspective can make all the difference. Oh, and love.

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