‘You’re Either Making Good Choices or You’re Not’

Teacher hopes to inspire students to focus on the positives and have good character.

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Cara Wimberley, Editor

Teacher Joshua Osman has always wanted to help with young adults and teenagers’ character. He’s brought this dream to Chisholm by starting a new program, called Character Talks.

Osman says a Character Talk is just talking about different aspects of having good character. Osman’s life is what inspired him to do Character Talks, and inspiring good character has been on his heart ever since he started to make some changes in his lifestyle.

“Around 32, 33, I had to start making better choices to live my life a little bit differently. And it’s not that I didn’t hear about [the choices] before, but applying them to your life seems pretty difficult,” Osman said. “The things I went through in my life and the things that I saw, and remember as a teenager, and the lack of being able to apply [character traits] to my own life inspired me to not only talk to young people, but to talk to 20-30 year old men and women who still don’t grasp what it means to be responsible, and mature, and a man and a woman.”

Osman described his childhood as typical, saying that he understood that his life wasn’t as rough as some students’ lives.

“But I definitely had dysfunction in my family, as we all do, and I saw a lot of poor decisions and self destruction and destruction of the family,” Osman said. “I had a lot of good bad examples to learn from.”

Another thing that Osman said he understands is that teenagers seem to feel like adults don’t understand.However, his experience talking toteachers at Chisholm says that adults do understand.

“Many adults in this building that I’ve spoken with have struggled in their life,” Osman said. “Some of us have been homeless, or abused. Having those conversations, and letting people know- ‘hey, I struggle too’- let’s us know that we’re all really in the same boat. I think if we kind of set our differences aside and have conversations like that… we can make progress.”

Osman believes that conversations can make a difference- even a small difference can lead to a chain reaction.

“If we focus on the negative, we’re gonna see more negative, and we’re going to see a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Osman said. “If we expect people-kids-teenagers- to act bad, that’s all we’re gonna wait for. That’s all we’re gonna focus on. And we’re gonna call em out when they do it. We’re not gonna say- ‘hey- I saw that you picked up a piece of trash- and that’s a good thing’ and recognizing that is just as important as recognizing the negative.”

Since the character talk that Osman gave to the freshman cheerleaders, the cheerleaders have been offering each other more support, as well as encouragement, according to the cheer coach.

“We see people doing things and that registers more than telling them what to do,” Osman said. “I try to live it out, rather than correcting them. You know, I walk up to a male student- or female- and shake their hand and look ‘em in the eye and ask ‘em how their grades are, and not bombard them about how they should be doing better in school but just engaging with them in a respectful, meaningful way is my approach.”

This approach came to Osman while watching a TED Talk. The TED Talk said if someone wants to make a change, they need to focus on one thing, rather than “bombarding with multiple ideas that are hard to grasp.” Osman chose to focus on Character Talks.

The Talk idea started with his memories from his life.

“The things I remember aren’t the times someone came to me and said ‘you’re doing this wrong’, but it was the times someone engaged with me and had a meaningful and respectful conversation- like i’m a human being, those are the conversations that stand out to me. I had coaches and teachers and everything and I don’t remember all of my highschool career, but I remember them having important, meaningful, encouraging conversations with them and them telling me how to be a productive member of society.”

Helping others to fill the shoes of those productive members of society is what Osman hopes to attain with the Character Talks.

“When it comes down to it, you’re either making good decisions or you’re not. We’re not all gonna do it right all the time, but helping someone understand what it looks like, and the effects it can have, in the future you, is kind of what i’m trying to communicate.”