Promoting School Values as a School Counselor

Responsibility, empathy, perseverance, the list goes on! Schools have core values that are aligned to the mission statement to develop the whole child, but sometimes there isn’t a clear plan on the who, when, and how of teaching these. As you head back to school for the new year, take some time to brainstorm with your team on how to do this, how you can move away from solo school counselor character education, and how these values can become a part of the whole school language.

Short on time? Sign up here to have these tips emailed to you over a couple of days in bite-sized pieces.

School Counselor Character Education?

For starters, I want to specify that promoting school values isn’t the sole responsibility of the counselor and it is not the entirety of the counseling core curriculum. It might be a part of your core curriculum, but hopefully isn’t the whole thing. Covering the values might fit well in conjunction with other skills you’re teaching in classroom lessons, or it might be a part of something separate like schoolwide assemblies, morning announcements, or classroom morning meetings. It should be part of the school climate and language, and the school counselor is just one entity that promotes and teaches them! This will be largely dependent on your school, so take what you can from this and apply it in a way that fits best for you.

1 – Decide on a Timeline

Depending on the number of values your school has identified, you may be able to promote them all at the same time. Hopefully they’re a part of your school language and everyday conversations already! But for more focused instruction, you may want to choose one to focus on each month or each quarter. As a team (admin, teachers, specialists, teachers aids, other stakeholders), prioritize the values to identify which you will teach first, second, etc. Then, make a plan for which values will be promoted and when.

As an aside, if your students are graded on these or given some grade indication for each, make sure that students aren’t being graded on a value that hasn’t been covered yet.

2 – Explicit Instruction

Hopefully these are promoted daily through classroom conversations, but that doesn’t mean the counselor can’t help to plan how they will be discussed. If you will be teaching these values as the counselor, make a plan for how you will explicitly teach students what they mean and how they can be demonstrated. I like to do a looks, feels, and sounds like activity with my students! For a given value, we describe what it

  • looks like to show the value (actions)
  • feels like to embody it (feelings) and
  • sounds like to show (words).

This is an easy way to give kids concrete ways to demonstrate it! From here, we can do some role plays or skits to practice acting and speaking it out to have real life examples.

Find activities to teach values here!

3 – Schoolwide Promotion

Again, hopefully this full responsibility of teaching school values isn’t falling to the counselor alone. There are some easy ways to promote them schoolwide so that students know these are values that everyone on campus believes in and supports. We can do things like:

  • special assemblies for one, a few, or all of the values with guest speakers, skits, and interactions
  • morning announcements with practical ways to show the values
  • morning meeting discussion prompts for the classroom

With your team, decide what will work best for you! Recruit community members, families, former students, and current students to help out. Speaking of student leaders…

4 – Team Up with Student Leaders

Lean on your student leaders and upper grades students! This is a great way to give them opportunities for responsibility, public speaking, positive peer attention, and so much more. Hold a student leader focus group to get student ideas for how they can help to teach and demonstrate these for younger students. Give them some space for creativity – you’ll be surprised by what they come up with! Here are some ways my student leaders have taken the reins:

  • Make videos that can be shown in classrooms. The videos had dictionary definitions of the values, “in my own words” definitions from the students, personal experiences of showing or seeing this value, and 3 concrete ways to show it today. These were so perfect during the pandemic when we were doing virtual morning announcements!
  • Writing and performing skits and songs about the values. These were so catchy and stuck in our heads, which is exactly what we want!
  • Peer coaching. The upper grades students were paired up with a student who might need support in a specific area. They hung out with them, talked to them, and encouraged them toward specific goals.

5 – Celebrate

Whether you’re focusing on one value a month or all at once, find ways to celebrate when students show growth in these areas! Recognize when students are empathetic, celebrate when they persevere through challenges, and publicly celebrate them! This helps to create a school climate where students know that these values are just as important as grades.

Keep Reading:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap