How To Make Our Values Stick in Middle School

Last school year we gathered together in a representative team to review our advisory program and we asked ourselves, "how do we know that our program is successful?" It seems like a very simple question, but it is one that we often don't ask ourselves in education.  "What is the measure of our success?" As we pored over our advisory unit plans and tried to find commonalities we realized that what we were missing was a common language, so we decided that we needed to develop a set of core values that would drive our day to day practice.

The process of elimination to arrive at our seven core values was a fascinating study in collaboration and consensus building.  By the end of the day, we were energized by what we had accomplished. Here is what we came up with.

When we arrived back at school this year, we immediately set to work integrating the core values into our program.  Our initial assemblies included examples from the Rio olympics of athletes or fans who represented positive and negative examples of our values.  Below you can see the slide show:

Each teacher has applied their own creativity in how they can incorporate the core values in our daily interactions. The 6th grade team  had our students reflect on their Outward Bound experience by having them associate photos and quotes with each core value.

This metacognitive work has allowed our students to identify real models of the kind of behavior that we hope for each day. In addition, we have implemented a mindfulness program with a 10 minute morning meeting to start each day.  Our teachers lead activities that are designed to help students connect with themselves, others and their environment. By using mindfulness strategies, kids leave their homeroom each morning grounded and ready for the day. The combination of our core values implementation and our mindfulness program has lent a common pattern and language to our days that we hope will have a positive impact in the way that we connect with each other and build a sense of community.  At the end of the year, we will measure this impact by seeing how highly integrated our values have become in the thoughts and actions of our students.


  1. After reading this, I realized how I can use the MS Core Values in my student's ILPs! Thanks Jeff!

  2. It was a exciting experience to make such a meaningful update in defining and communicating our values across the middle school. The next step? Developing more community building activities that help students focus on positive participation in our community to help it reach its greatest potential.

  3. Awesome illustration of values in the Google slide. I remember how energizing that retreat day felt for all particpants.
    The next step? How do we model those values as a faculty so students feel the shared vision seamlessly oozing from our classrooms?


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