Saturday, October 01, 2005

Importance of School Values

One schools values Posted by Picasa

A vision gives an organization a sense of direction, a purpose, but only if it is ‘owned’ and translated into action by all involved.

But vision is not enough in itself. The values that any organization has are just as important or even more so because they determine the behaviors that people agree to live within. Alignment of people behind values is vital but too often both vision and values are just words hidden in folders are rarely referred to. What you do must reflect what you believe if there is to be integrity. And any alignment needs to include students and parents as well.

The vision and values provides the basis for all other strategies and actions and some would say that a staff aligned behind a vision and values is the best strategy of all. Many school the develop a set of teaching beliefs to put them into action and if they do them these naturally become the basis of the schools job description, school review, staff evaluation and professional development.

School values need to be defined into appropriate expected behaviors. Many schools develop Teacher, Student and Parent Charters with the people concerned to define such expectations. It is hard otherwise to live up to an ideal list of values.

When agreed to, and believed in by most people, positive peer pressure helps people live up to them. It is all about walking the talk. When people are seen to let down others the agreed behaviors can be used as the basis of a dialogue. For teachers they become part of the performance appraisal and similarly teachers can get their students to do likewise. New parent can be given expectations to help them clarify their roles in the learning partnership.

New teachers need to given time and help to appreciate what the school stands for and the expectations they need to live up to.

The vision, values and teaching beliefs form the DNA of the school. To work well people must be passionate about them so they just can’t be written by a committee and 'dropped' on people. And every now and again, as part of the school review, the behaviors and teaching beliefs must be reviewed and modified if necessary. Possibly it will be the area of teaching beliefs that will change the most if a school wants to keep up with new ideas.

All this can be summarized on one page and even when expanded and need not be a massive document. Focus is important. The one page summary can be placed in the front of all school folders, including BOT ones. If people are to make difference they need to know where to place their time and energy and not waste it on issues of little educational value.

A simple test to see if what school stands for is in place is to ask a random selection of teachers, students and parents what the school stands for. If the answers show similarities then this is a good start.

When everyone is aligned behind shared vision, values and beliefs them the school can be called a 'learning community'.

A School Vision ,Values and Teaching Beliefs to customize.
A School Strategy Plan to modify


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richnz said...

Hi Bruce.
You helped me with the development of our school charter, and believe that you have a copy, but we have continued to reflect and develop the theme of our children all being learning stars, or stars of learning... Our charter now reflects directly on classroom practice. In effect the teaching beliefs or learning stars are embedded in the charter, not in another document... Clearly now these learning stars are perfect planning, focus, reflection and for performance management systems.. Cheers and keep on blogging

Bruce said...

Thanks for the feedback Rich - appreciated.