Make Manners a Part of Your Classroom

09/03/2009  |  Angela W. Pitre
character education

Manners is a hot topic for today’s parents. A private poll conducted via Café Mom indicated that over 85 percent of mom’s believe that their child is losing valuable educational time every day due to a lack of manners in the classroom.

Veronica Terrana, M.Ed., NBCT and Literary Facilitator for Matthews Elementary in Matthews, NC is one person who is combating this growing concern in her school. Mrs. Terrana was a teacher for 12 years prior to becoming a Literary Facilitator; she was able to speak to the problem with a tremendous amount of authority and experience. Her school is a shining example of how to integrate manners into your classroom. Something, she pointed out, that would be next to impossible to do with the existing expectations placed on our teachers.

One great saying that Mrs. Terrana used in her classroom was “Character is who you are when no one is looking.” It is difficult to quantify the amount of time spent on character development daily because it is something that should just be embedded into every moment. When asked how manners impacted a classroom on a daily basis, she said “They are a make or break topic. If character isn’t addressed it sucks away classroom time.”

While North Carolina has a statewide mandate to work on character development, it is still up to each individual school to implement these programs and each teacher to work them into their day. It seems that parents and teachers alike are aware of this general lack of manners and while there seem to be efforts being made on both sides, there is still a huge gap. 

Some communities are attempting to bridge the communication gap regarding manners and respect in schools between teachers and parents.  A selection of schools in North Carolina and South Carolina send a monthly newsletter home that has a character development topic of the month. The newsletter is designed to inform parents what is being worked on in the classroom. While not in-depth, the short paragraph explains what the manner may be, such as kindness (I would like to note that each school system seems to call this process something different, character development, manners development, social studies and so on). 

While a short paragraph is a great beginning, it doesn’t go far enough. This is not an issue that can be resolved by asking our teachers to do more; it gets resolved by a collaborative effort of manners instruction between home and school. Parents need more tools so they can continue and expand on the life skills that are being taught within the school. Parents are willing to teach their children, but are not sure what and how they should be teaching.

In an ongoing effort to know what kind of programs your school is implementing to teach manners, and how to get parents to work on teaching these same manners at home, please send an email to [email protected]

Angela W. Pitre is the Chief Manners Advocate for Manners Made Fun, Inc. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected] or call 704-919-1962.
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