Addressing Character, Excellence, and Community Remotely

Hans AppelBlog, Connect Better


  • Addressing character, excellence, and community with your students is a necessary part of education that should not be forgotten in a virtual setting.
  • Strategies for addressing character, excellence, and community remotely include modeling appropriate character for our students, providing opportunities for student empowerment, and being there for one another.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Peter Drucker. When wading into the unknown, people often fall back on tried and true strategies as a guide to make sense of the land of newness.  The inclination to utilize a set of core tips, tricks, and hacks is rooted in a common sense approach to navigating things that feel overwhelming.  And while talented educators have a wealth of tools, information, and experience to draw from, these well-intended folks sometimes accidentally miss the big idea—the idea of addressing character, excellence, and community with our learners.

There are no shortcuts when working with humans.  Relationship building and culture cultivating don’t just happen because we practice some predetermined algorithm of awesomeness. 

In truth, human relationships are not static.  Instead, we’re constantly finding ourselves on a connection continuum of beginning, supporting, or mending our current relationships.  And no strategy will help us sidestep the real work involved in establishing a strong learning culture that’s rooted in relevant remote relationships.  

“Perhaps, content is just a vehicle to teach kids what matters most…Character, Excellence, and Community” (Award Winning Culture).

Addressing Character Remotely

Character is doing the hard stuff, even when we don’t feel like doing it.  In a remote learning space, we demonstrate character by practicing, teaching, and modeling traits like patience, honesty, respect, commitment, selflessness, empathy, kindness, humility, and forgiveness.  Infusing character into our daily interactions with others does NOT somehow imply that we’re perfect or ensure we always get it right. 

It’s not about finding the right new tech tool, classroom management approach, or most welcoming face mask. It’s about showing up every day, and making an intentional effort of being interested, curious, and engaged with our learners. Click To Tweet

The truth is, we’ll fail—OFTEN!  We’ll come up short repeatedly.  But lucky for us, being a character-focused educator does not require us to be perfect.  Instead, it reminds us to keep trying.  This sustained effort to build trust, lean into compassion, and lead with true vulnerability will serve us in remote, hybrid and/or in-person learning atmospheres.  

It’s not about finding the right new tech tool, classroom management approach, or most welcoming face mask. It’s about showing up every day, and making an intentional effort of being interested, curious, and engaged with our learners.    

Addressing Excellence Remotely

“Every decision we make or fail to make as leaders has the potential to impact both school culture and morale in positive or negative ways” – Jimmy Casas.

In Live Your Excellence, Casas reminds educators that bringing our best self to school each day provides students with the opportunity to connect with adults and their peers. It provides them the opportunity for ongoing learning.  Bringing our best self requires us to do the consistent self-care, personal and professional development, and ongoing self-reflection that aids true growth. 

Providing regular opportunities to empower our students through agency, voice, and choice delivers hope for autonomy during this unprecedented pandemic.  Progressive teachers experienced the power of a mastery learning framework for guiding student leadership and enhancing their education. 

I’ve heard so many Grid Method veterans express how fortunate they were to have a self-paced, multi-tiered classroom culture of excellence in place last spring.  Learning to Teach Further in remote or distanced settings will require educators to adopt a reflective Teach Better Mindset as we chase our excellence this fall.  Make no mistake: the better you show up, the better our learners excel.  

You are your most powerful means to reaching school culture excellence.   

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Addressing Community Remotely 

We’re in this together.  It’s not just you.  You’re not alone!  You have a school community of people all trying to do their best.  Parents, students, and colleagues are all chasing greatness this year.  If this COVID crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we’re all more similar than we are different.  School stakeholders are desperate to create the most amazing educational conditions for student learning.  Come together.  Listen.  Ask questions.  Seek feedback.  Communicate transparently. Be relentless.  

And you’re not limited to just your school family.  YOU ARE A PART OF OUR TEACH BETTER FAMILY!  This fall, we’re offering Connected Coaching opportunities, dynamic webinars, family check-ins, ongoing free content, and more.  Immerse yourself in a community approach to connection.       

At Teach Better, we imagine a world where every educator is connected, supported, and inspired to be BETTER every day, so that all learners can discover and develop their passions to positively impact our communities.  

Culture Better. Teach Better.

About Hans Appel

Hans Appel is an educator, speaker, and writer deeply committed to inspiring the whole child. He’s the author of, Award Winning Culture: Building School-Wide Intentionality and Action Through Character, Excellence, and Community. Additionally, he’s the Director of Culture for the Teach Better Team, co-host of the Award Winning Culture podcast, and the Co-Creator of Award Winning Culture.

Hans is also a member of the Teach Better Speakers Network.