Taking Time for Self-Reflection: Core Values

Anna Warren

New Year Image

It’s that time of the year.

You are in the midst of hiring staff, finalizing the master schedule, and planning back-to-school professional development. Often, that professional development plan for your staff includes the creation or review of your campus vision and mission, which answers the question: what are we about as a school?

And that’s great. But, stop for just a moment. What are you about?

It’s an important and often overlooked step in leading schools, the self-reflection step. While a school’s vision and mission should be about the community, the staff, and their unified beliefs around learning, let’s face it-campus leaders have their own values and beliefs. No doubt, they will be evident when a principal leads the school. Your own core values are the foundation of who you are as a leader.
They drive your beliefs.

So, stop for just a moment. Set aside the resume reviews, forget your to-do list, close your office door, and let’s do some reflecting on your core values.

What are your values?

Values are principles or standards for your own behavior. They demonstrate what is important to you in the way you live and work. Core values heavily influence the way you live your life.

Why are they important to you, and to your school?

It’s important that you identify your core values for two reasons:

1) Living by your core values, both personally and professionally, makes life good. And, who doesn't want that?

2) When leading a school, it’s important that your staff knows where you are coming from. They want to know who you are and what you believe.

Dust off your journal and write down your answers to these questions. Or, just jot them on a post-it note:

When are you most happy?
When are you most proud?
When are you fulfilled?

Review what you’ve written. Now, write down some key words or short phrases that capture your thinking, overall.

When I did this exercise, here’s what I wrote:




These are, indeed, three of my values. I try to model commitment in everything I do. It’s fulfilling for me to see a group of people come together so that individuals feel a sense of togetherness, or belonging. As a leader, I want my interactions to always make a difference; I feel proud of my work when others say that I impacted them in some way.

During this first pass, don’t worry too much about how the words sound, or even if they make sense. Just get down on paper what you think your values are, based on what makes you happy, proud, and fulfilled.

Need a word bank? Google “values”, and you will find hundreds of words and phrases that others have used to describe who they are at their core.

Congratulations! You have now identified some of your core values and, at the very least, you will be aware of them as you move into the vision and mission planning/review work as a campus.

What’s next?

Don’t put that journal back on the shelf! Your core values drive your beliefs. The degree to which you are honoring your core values determines your fulfillment in the many roles you play in life-your role as a leader, as a friend, as a spouse or as a parent. Check back soon for more self-reflection tools as you dive into a new school year!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015