COVID-19 toppled every best-laid plan that schools have had for their students. Beginning in March, as educators scrambled to figure out their best instructional options, they often struggled to get a sense of whether their students even had some of their basic needs covered, like internet access or a space to work, in order to pursue remote learning. When in late May, as the pandemic continued unabated, the largest movement in U.S. history erupted with a national call for racial justice. Students and their educators stood up and took notice. Many stories are coming to light of educators working with young people, taking advantage of this inflection point to help define, build, and develop with students what it means to reflect on their own well-being, as well as serve the larger, collective good. There are also accounts of young people leading the charge in some instances, demonstrating motivation, leadership, commitment to community, and civic awareness in ways that no one could have anticipated. What does that look like? And who are the educators—and the students—who are leading this charge? What lessons can educators, researchers, and policymakers glean from these examples in order to apply them to learning going forward? And what might these promising approaches of elevating character have to say about the future direction of our schools, social institutions, and workforce?
Elizabeth Rich, Opinion Editor; Kevin Bushweller, Assistant Managing Editor; Director of Editorial/Business Collaboration; Mary Hendrie, Deputy Opinion Editor; and Stephen Sawchuk, Assistant Managing Editor contributed to this video.
Coverage of character education and development is supported in part by a grant from The Kern Family Foundation, at www.kffdn.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.