What do you do when no one’s looking? I was recently creating a virtue project about integrity and it made me reflect on this question. The students could choose to create a poster, write an essay or make a wordle about this virtue. I realized that I witness little ways that I see this virtue lived out in our school:
- Children who walk down the hallways (instead of run) even when no one is looking.
- A middle grade child who caught me at dismissal to anxiously tell me that the ipad cart was locked when she returned an ipad, Mrs. Noble was not in her classroom, and she wondered if it was okay to leave it there.
- The children who promptly take lunch tubs to the cafeteria and back on their own each day without loitering or causing problems.
- The sixth students who waited and didn’t interrupt the prayer time during my classroom visit by leaving right on time for band. Instead, they went to band a few minutes late without me asking or them making a fuss.
- The first grader who brought his mission collection envelope to the office when he forgot to bring it to church.
- The junior high students who set up the choir area before Mass each day without supervision.
Integrity is built on trust, and trust is shown when one is given responsibilities and carries through on them without someone monitoring. Of course, we carry out our role as adults by having appropriate monitoring in the classrooms, on the playground, in the cafeteria, etc., but the goal is to help the students grow in the ability to self-regulate and “do the right thing even when no one is looking.”
This carries over into the moral/spiritual life as well and can be even harder to gauge. Do the students play with someone they don’t like as much, even without the teacher asking, because they recognize that everyone deserves to be included? Do the sports boys welcome those of other interests at the lunch table? Do the girls refuse to talk about another girl behind her back if they feel slighted in some way? These are tougher questions and not part of our daily lesson plans. But they are part of the daily life lessons our children need.
I hope many of you have regular conversations with your children about what they are doing in school and how things are going. I would encourage you to delve a little deeper and ask if he/she notices anyone being left out on occasion or not being treated as kindly as they should. If so, you can build empathy by asking your child how he/she would feel in a similar situation. Then comes the time to challenge by asking, “What do you think you could do about that?”
Integrity, like all virtues, is built slowly, one step at a time. By helping our children to reflect on how they act when no one is looking, we are encouraging them to grow in integrity. The next step, though, is to ask ourselves, “So, what do I do when no one’s looking? Our own growth in integrity will be the model for our children to follow!
God bless you!