Schools are wasting millions of dollars on character education in the absence of an important ingredient. According to the United States Department of Education, character education is a learning process that enables students and adults in a school community to understand, care about and act on core ethical values such as respect, justice, civic virtue and citizenship, and responsibility for self and others. Character education is most effective when teachers exhibit behaviors that students believe are consistent with developing a moral community.

Developing a moral community by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships not only helps to better teach marginalized students the principles associated with character education but is also helps students who are not considered marginalized. For marginalized students, it is impossible to expect charter education to be effective when teachers tend to involve marginalized students in disproportionate discipline. The students will feel victimized and believe that the teacher is unfair. Marginalized students will continue to believe that they cannot trust white teachers. They develop oppositional social identities that are contrary to the social and emotional expectations consistent with character education resulting in increased teacher student fights.

Teachers who exhibit behaviors consistent with promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships are able to help non-marginalized students visualize the importance of positive relationships with marginalized students. This will help non-marginalized students to have better respect for marginalized students resulting in reductions of racial bullying, social media attacks, and student on student fights. The overall result is a reduction in discipline referrals.

Developing a moral community includes influencing the moral development of students not just by being good role models, but by how teachers interact with students. During the past decades many character education efforts focus on everything from community service to teaching students virtues, building good habits, rewarding positive behaviors, and developing students’ capacity for moral reasoning (Schaps, Schaffer, & McDonnell, 2001). However, public cries from conservatives and researchers regarding the steady rise in greed, delinquency, and disrespect that continue to plague our country reveal that school character education efforts will need added focus such as promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships.

There is a global awareness that student perceptions of teachers is an integral part of any character education program. In Turkey, students who liked the teacher of Culture of Religion and Knowledge of Ethics course had more moral conduct points when compared to other students. In Korea, Korean teachers successfully teach character education to Korean students by focusing on promoting caring, pride in one’s cultural heritage, and respect for cultural differences.

Teachers play the pivotal role in building the values and characters in the classroom and school culture. They are the ones who integrate the character values into the daily instructional design they do in the classroom. Many schools attempt to help charter education by restructuring to ensure that their students have an opportunity to receive the best education possible. Research reveals that when schools are restructured, students often remain oblivious to the new structure and practices. When questioned regarding the strengths and weaknesses of school reform efforts, students focus on the strengths and weaknesses of individual teachers (Warren Little, 1998). Teacher-student relationships shape the moral qualities and beliefs of their students for which many schools bypass as a character development vehicle.  

Promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships helps to enhance the cultural competency of each teacher who is responsible for modeling and teaching character education. A program designed to promote cultural acceptance between teachers and students can be a powerful defense against any claims of cultural insensitivity from students because it demonstrates the teacher’s commitment to their students. Students will enjoy classroom interactions with their teachers and therefore are less likely to be absent or tardy from school. As a result of the process teachers will have respect for all students which will transfer to students respecting each other. Students will become more receptive to character education programming because the teacher’s behaviors are consistent with developing a moral community of respect and justice.  

Teachers who are involved in promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships will improve the school’s character education initiatives by reducing disproportionate discipline, increasing student achievement, fostering relationships that eliminate teacher student fights, therefore increasing school safety, and become a role model for students to ensure that students have examples of behaviors consistent with respect, justice, and citizenship.  

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All the best,

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

Author of:

  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
  • The Raccelerate Formula App
  • Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
  • The Ultimate Guide to Classroom Racism Management

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“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”
 ~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools

“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.

~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor

“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”

~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President






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