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Testing our values

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The community of Breens Intermediate school found that their values were tested by the Christchurch earthquake on the 22 February 2011.

"After the February earthquake there was a real time where we had to really walk our values. Prior to that we thought we had, and we’d certainly talked them, and we’d looked at them at classroom level and those kinds of things."

There are four stories in this series:

  1. Developing the Breens Intermediate values
  2. Culturally responsive values
  3. Testing our values
  4. Values in the classroom

Professional learning conversations

These questions and suggested actions encourage you to reflect on your own school context.

Exploring the values

The New Zealand Curriculum (p12), states that:

Students will be encouraged to value:

  • excellence, by aiming high and by persevering in the face of difficulties
  • innovation, inquiry, and curiosity, by thinking critically, creatively, and reflectively
  • diversity, as found in our different cultures, languages, and heritages
  • equity, through fairness and social justice
  • community and participation for the common good
  • ecological sustainability, which includes care for the environment
  • integrity, which involves being honest, responsible, and accountable and acting ethically
  • and to respect themselves, others, and human rights.
  • Which of these values do you see most around your school? Which need more development?
  • In what ways do you see your school values having an impact on the local community? How does the local community have an impact on your values?
  • How could you ensure that your school values are robust enough to withstand unexpected challenges? 

Have you seen ...

You could also use this section of NZC Online to examine how your school uses the values of the curriculum.

Values – A possible pathway for curriculum review
The New Zealand Curriculum identifies a number of values that have widespread community support. These values are to be encouraged and modelled, and they are to be explored by students. Schools need to consider how they can make the values an integral part of their curriculum and how they will monitor the effectiveness of the approach taken.

Transcript

The values in our school are central to everything we do. They’re based around five ‘B’ words: Brilliance being at the top of the tree - aspiring to be the very best you can be. Belonging, which is around making a positive contribution to the community. Beautiful, which is about showing beauty in terms of being a good friend and those kinds of things. We have Bold and Brave, which is about taking risks with your learning - being a bold learner and showing bravery, being tolerant [and] knowing when to walk away. And they underpin everything that we do in the school.

I guess you never know when something is going to come along and really test your values. In our particular case it had to be the 22nd of February earthquake. The very first assembly after that earthquake we created the five pillars of hope. We got recycled rimu beams and we got every kid to write down a message of how they were going to show bravery, how they were going to show brilliance, how they were going to show belonging, through the earthquake time. So we gave them a tool in which to give them resilience.

After the February earthquake there was a real time where we had to really walk our values. Prior to that we thought we had, and we’d certainly talked them, and we’d looked at them at classroom level and those kinds of things. But after that earthquake, by goodness, we really had to lean on those values.

We got together as a staff while the school was closed and we went to Waipara, and we... to build up our strength again and discuss our feelings. Then I actually took the discussions that Brian led about being brave and bold and showing beauty - especially bravery around that time - and brought it into the classroom. I definitely think that meeting we had before we came back to school was really important because we showed belonging as a staff, and kia kaha, and caring for each other, before we could then come back and do the same for the students.

That was the first thing that happened and then suddenly we got the message that we were going to be sharing with another intermediate. We were suddenly going to take on another 280 year 8 students, and we sat there and we thought “well heck, what’s the key thing that’s important to us?” It was our values. So when we had Heaton come on, we had the staff and we could sit there and talk about our five values, and this is what they could expect from us as they came on. When the students came on we were able to talk about what belonging was going to be, and they belong to us.

I am absolutely sure that the Breens’ values gave our students the tools to really embrace that change of situation. An area that we really showed sharing our values with them was that we combined the Breens and the Heaton name to Breaton, so that was showing our ‘belonging’ value.

As a parent, knowing that they were coming to a community - a caring community - where they belonged, and their school was theirs, and they were able to offer it and their services to Heaton, was amazing.

Last year we were asked to host our local preschool in another site sharing exercise basically. They had lost their building after the earthquake and, I remember, going to a board meeting where this was presented at board level and it was really obvious to all of us that we couldn’t say we had these values and not actually walk the walk - and not support our community in times of challenge. So it was a bit of a no brainer, I guess, we said of course we are going to do this! Our students, on that day, all welcomed the little people from the preschool and their staff onto their new site with a mihi whakatau, and our students and the wee ones also used some paint to make handprints on a wall which signified the older students and the younger students, which is a really special reminder of that day.

We’ve talked to our children a lot about being brave, so we’re trying to bring the values of the school into our setting as well - use them in our setting so that when they talk to the school children, they can go over and say to them “I’ve been really brave today”. That’s actually happened down here at the fence line, where two children have come together and our children know that the older children are about being brave - to be brave at school. So I think it does have a really big impact and it certainly had an impact on that transition for us.

I’d implore any school to make sure they have got great values within their school and it’s just natural, so if something does happen they have a grounding, they have a sacred cow, they have a tool they can use, to help get them through.


Published on: 17 Jul 2013


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