Beginning in 2009, KIPP NYC piloted an approach that offered teachers, kids, and parents a structured and meaningful way to talk about and develop character. It is rooted in the research of Dr. Martin Seligman (University of Pennsylvania) and Dr. Chris Peterson (University of Michigan) that identifies twenty-four character strengths as leading to engaged, meaningful, and purposeful lives.

At KIPP NYC, explicitly creating opportunities to develop character is infused into every aspect of the school day.
Building off of KIPP NYC’s efforts, KIPP schools are now especially focused on seven highly predictive strengths: zest, grit, self-control, optimism, gratitude, social intelligence, and curiosity. For each of these strengths, we’ve combined our own experiences as teachers and the research of Seligman, Peterson, and Dr. Angela Duckworth to create a list of indicators that provide a road map for the development of each strength. For example, to help teachers, kids, and parents develop grit we ask them to reflect on whether they try very hard after experiencing failure.

KIPP schools around the country are now capitalizing on the work of KIPP NYC to integrate a more formalized and measurable approach to character development.

Download resources at kipp.org/character.

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