VBCM 5: Virtue Stairs
Welcome to the Virtue Based Classroom Management Series where you will find ideas and free downloads for implementing Education in Virtue in your classroom. This is the fifth post. For a complete list of posts, topics, and free downloads click here.
The thing about educating students in a life of virtue is that it is not just head knowledge. It must become a knowledge of the heart, a knowledge that influences our every action. Virtue is the habit of doing good, and in order to do good we must first know the good and desire the good.
Using virtue stairs in your classroom helps students make that transition from head to heart to daily action. It can double as a behavioral management tool if you desire. It is very simple to set up. You need the following (or some variation):
- Stairs – My favorite is use painter’s or washi tape on a magnetic white board. It also works to make this as a ladder with heavy cardstock or cardboard and give each student a clothes pin.
- Marker for each student – such as a clip, popsicle stick, clothes pin, laminated card on a magnet, etc.
It can be as simple or as complex as you want it! When you teach a new virtue, intentionally look for it being practiced throughout the day. Every time you see it practiced (or the students see a classmate practicing it) that student can move up the stairs. When they reach the top, there is some sort of small reward. My favorite rewards are privileges: choosing the read aloud, first choice on the carpet, sit by a friend, a visit to the chapel, etc.
Some teachers tie the virtue stairs to behavior, and students can move up for virtuous behavior and down for inappropriate behavior. Other teachers have modeled it on the canonization process. The first time up the stairs, the student is a “servant of God,” on their way to canonization. The second time, the student is “venerable, then “blessed.” When the student reaches the top of the stairs the fourth time, that student is “canonized” and there is a class celebration. It reminds the students that one of the conditions for sainthood is “heroic virtue,” that disciples of Christ follow Him in the life of virtue.