Pacelli fishing for good character

By Marnie Leif and Patty Schaefer

Pacelli teachers

The character education curriculum used at Pacelli Catholic Schools is known as the FISH! Philosophy. FISH!, the organizational philosophy inspired by fish-flinging merchants in Seattle’s world famous Pike Place Fish Market, is migrating from corporate offices to school hallways.

It is a program designed to develop student character to take ownership, responsibility, and accountability for the actions in their everyday lives. Students build a growth mindset that promotes creativity and respect from preschool to 12th grade. The FISH! Philosophy is designed to develop an atmosphere where students love to give their best everyday by improving teamwork and building trust. Students respect and care about one another, feel safe, and are ready to learn.

The FISH! Philosophy is built on four major principles. Each principle has its own basic idea.

Play. Play shows students how to live in the moment and to see the humor in everyday life, without being offensive to others. It is the spirit that drives the curious mind, as in “Let’s play with that idea!” The students learn to play within boundaries and tap into their natural way of being creative and enthusiastic. They learn how to play fairly, respectfully and have abundant fun while doing so

Make their day. It emphasizes doing simple things for others that will affect their lives in a positive, meaningful and memorable way. It is about contributing to someone else’s life — not because you want something but because it is the right thing to do.

Choose your attitude. It is learning to be aware of choices and to understand we cannot always control what happens to us but we can take responsibility for the attitude we choose. Attitude is everything. Without a positive attitude there is little purpose to what we do. More importantly, it is the choices we make that reflect this positive attitude. A great attitude goes a long way by promoting self-esteem, self-confidence, and better results.

Be there. This principle emphasizes the importance of being emotionally present for people. It focuses on educational lessons and the ability to tune into the moment so students can better understand what they are learning. Students should be there ready to engage their brains, improve communication and strengthen relationships. “Be there” includes behaviors like participating, giving the best effort, and being attentive.

As students practice the four major principles of the FISH! Philosophy, they can earn FISH! cards by demonstrating good character traits. Classrooms have reward days for earning 50 FISH! cards. Once a month students are nominated for the honor of being chosen “Student of the Month.”  Nominations are based on a student’s successful demonstration of the four FISH! principles. Honorees are awarded a pizza lunch with the principal at the end of each month. Classroom rules are also made with the FISH! Philosophy in mind and are displayed in the classroom.

The FISH! Philosophy offers students the power to enjoy their lives and to take responsibility for their education. It is the key to successful relationships and provides teachers with ways to create respectful and motivational environments with high expectations for learning.

Students learn and practice personal responsibility, ownership in their classroom and accountability for their actions. They develop the ability to affect others’ lives in a positive way and the importance of enjoying what they do. Students who live the FISH! Philosophy display positive behavior and learn how good it feels to care about others. Misbehavior and bullying decrease. Students build critical social skills for a lifetime. FISH! helps create positive, safe and cooperative classrooms, allowing teachers and students to focus on learning.

If you are interested in learning more about Pacelli Catholic Schools, visit our website at www.pacellischools.org, email admin@pacellischools.org or call 507-437-3278.

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