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Realigning our Moral Compass

by Thérèse McNamara

Realigning our Moral Compass
  • Liam slowly works on a Number Sense assessment, as I gently prompt him to focus on the print. Suddenly he looks at me and discloses, “I should have studied.”

“Wise words,” I reply. “Tell me more…”

  • Jillian turns to Sophie and says, “It`s better to say `This is my idea. Now it’s your turn– what’s your idea?”
  • Steven joins Scott as he leaves the classroom, saying, “Here, I can help you carry your stuff. Did you remember to bring your pencil?”


Each of these reflects a positive character trait: responsibility, collaboration, and caring. Our teaching of these social values depends not only on explicit instruction, but on the behaviours that we model for students each day.

We, teachers, are such valuable role models for our kids. And if we consider the ‘moral compass’ metaphor, it illustrates how our own inner values drive our beliefs and actions… which are then observed, and imitated by those around us. Have you ever heard students use your exact words or copied your preferred expressions?

As influential role models, we will want to ‘check our compass’ from time to time to ensure we are purposefully guiding our own directions as well as those of the children with whom we work.


Take a moment to reflect on your day’s events and share your thoughts. Where did your moral compass lead you and/or how did it influence others?



Thérèse McNamara is a school administrator, special education resource teacher and mother. In her 30+ years as an educator, she has worked as a classroom teacher, computer/curriculum consultant, and education officer. She holds a Masters of Education degree with a focus on Literacy and has taught additional qualification courses for 3 universities. She has reviewed and written a number of professional learning resources and supports the application of evidence-based, best practices to support all students.


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