Every school has its own culture that expresses shared values and expectations for students, faculty and staff. As the principal, you to set a positive example for others as they contribute to a productive learning and teaching environment.

Core values help communicate your school’s story – its mission, standards and desired outcomes. Establishing those ideals provides the foundation for building the type of atmosphere you want to foster. These standards also offer a way of thinking about which educational philosophies or initiatives your school supports.

Well-established core values can help strengthen a school community. However, determining what those should be can be a challenge. The following are three steps to get you started:

Our Organizational Self-Assessment is designed to help districts and schools assess the strengths and challenges of their environments and instructional practices.

Identify which values are most important to your teachers and staff members as well as to your students and their families.

Ask yourself, “do we encourage dedication, responsibility, productivity, respect, etc.?” Decide which three most reflect the goals you have for your school, then seek input from others. It is important that all stakeholders agree that these are the core values they want to adhere to in creating a positive learning and working environment. Schedule a meeting with representatives of each group to garner a consensus or select a new set of three. This is a critical step in establishing your school community’s core values.

Establish a school-wide community code that connects your shared set of core values.

The agreed upon ideals can be developed into messages, in the form of phrases or full sentences, that more specifically explain how the core value applies to your particular school community. To ensure those messages are clear and consistent, make sure your school’s mission, learning environments, use of resources and expectations of students, teachers and staff members align with that code.

Incorporate character education to encourage your students to develop a deeper understanding of humanity and what they can do to support themselves and others.

The 3H Approach – Teaching the Head, Guiding the Hand, and Touching the Heart – is routed in education, using literature, current events and ordinary circumstances to teach sympathy and empathy. These lessons can be tied to your school’s core values and foster an even stronger community.

Work with your stakeholders to develop a plan for how everyone is going to help implement your agreed upon core values. Every member of your school community can embody and carry those messages to make a lasting impression for years to come.

Catapult Learning helps identify the strengths and opportunities for improvement through our school needs assessment process called Collaborative Quality Analysis (CQA). Our comprehensive diagnostic process guides school improvement through providing a prescriptive lens through which we can effectively recommend and apply processional development solutions. Catapult Learning’s organizational self-assessment tool creates a custom, complimentary report detailing how your district or school performs against the 25 Attributes of an Exemplary Organization. Recommendations will be provided to support the next steps needed to help your school achieve proficiency and beyond.