Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

12.16.21Character Building Lessons from Our DOS Curriculum: Free Tools for a Challenging Time


This autumn we’ve been sharing free resources schools can use to get them through what we all recognize is a very challenging time.

​​The news is full of stories that describe what many teachers already know: Kids are struggling- often socially and emotionally and often at schools that are short-staffed and stressed for other reasons, meaning more needs and fewer resources to help. Maintaining a positive school culture and supporting character development are critical to students’ well-being and success, so we’re happy to share some tools that we think can help schools respond to student needs and ensure they rejoin the school community and navigate daily challenges successfully.

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of interviewing Brennan Steele, Dean of Social and Emotional Learning, from Believe Memphis Academy in Tennessee. Brennan and his staff utilize TLAC’s Dean of Students Curriculum within their social emotional learning block each day. Brennan shared, “we have seen an increased ability [by students] to manage the many emotions that they experience as middle schoolers.”

Believe Memphis Academy –and schools from Sacramento, California to Plymouth, England currently pilot the Dean of Students Curriculum, a curriculum that we launched in January 2021. The curriculum consists of 63 student facing lesson plans which were created to serve a variety of needs for deans, educators, and leaders in pursuit of developing their students’ character in the face of challenging situations. While our curriculum is written for grades 5-8, we think our lessons have broader applicability for grades 4-10.

The Dean of Students Curriculum can be used to:

  • Proactively teach virtues and values to support student character development.
  • Develop students’ critical thinking, writing, and character development through carefully curated activities broken up by topic.
  • Help students reflect on challenging situations, their actions, and learn replacement behaviors for counterproductive actions.
  • Help students understand how their actions impact themselves and others.


We are excited to share that we are offering free access to seven lessons from each of our seven units:

  1. Compassion>Defining Compassion 
  2. Courage>Peer Pressure Vocabulary 
  3. Gratitude> Benefits of Gratitude 
  4. Integrity> Integrity in the Emperor’s Seed 
  5. Perseverance> Achieving Despite Setbacks
  6. Responsibility> The Power of An Apology 
  7. Respect> Social Media Tips for Teens 


Each lesson engages students through reading and writing. Our lessons are adaptable and can be completed within a class period, using various means of participation, or can be completed over the course of several days.

We hope you find our curriculum lessons useful in whichever setting you wish to use them.

Click here to download the 7 lessons.

If you have a question about the materials or want to learn more about the curriculum email us at



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