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Values in the classroom

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At Breens Intermediate, five values underpin all aspects of the school - from student goal setting, to reporting to parents, to home learning, and the completion of values related tasks. In this story, staff and students discuss some of the ways that the values are lived out in the classroom, and woven into the rest of school life. This film and accompanying questions can be used by schools wanting to integrate values into their teaching and learning programmes.

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.

Integrating values in the New Zealand Curriculum: Caught or taught?
This 2012 study explores the ability of schools to integrate values into their teaching and learning programmes, and the effect of approaches taken to implement values throughout the school.

Key findings:

  • the most favoured strategies for teaching values included teacher role modelling, using the “teachable moment” and explicit teaching of values.
  • the most preferred strategies for assessment of values were student self-assessment and teacher observation of values evident in student behaviours.
  • teachers indentified a need to establish common understandings of values with students, and a common language to interpret such understandings.
  • the personal values or beliefs that teachers hold may affect their commitment to values implementation in their school. 
  • Examine the statements above in light of your own school context. Which of these key findings apply to your school? Which may need to be explored further?
  • How could you incorporate your school values into daily learning experiences, structures, curriculum, and conversations?


Our school values are: brave, belonging, beautiful, brilliant, bold.

Yeah, that’s it!

In my classroom it’s very visual to start with, so you know what the five values are. It’s not only visual but we live by it. I try and model the values as well. So at the start it was deliberate acts of modelling the values and now it’s just inherent with my classroom. We use goal setting with the five values and any discussion that we have around any sort of curriculum area we use the values.

We set team goals every week and the values are included in that. For example, the value for this week is to show bravery at swimming. Extending their ability and learning something new. The students also talk with their parents when we have student led conferences which we’ll have later this term and they talk to their parents about how they’ve been brilliant with their learning, how they know they have and what that looks like.  They talk about the goals they have set and the goals will be directly related to the values.

In term one we send a progress report home based on how the students are following the Breens’ values. In term two, in the mid year report, and also at the end of the year students set their goals using the values, they explain how they’ve been following them, what they’ve been doing at Breens to show those values and we report that back to the parents. Also at student led conferences students use the values to goal set and share their learning through those values with the parents at student led conferences at mid year and term two. That’s a really effective way to use the values to report to parents how the students are showing those in everyday life. The students live the values, they breathe them, the teachers - we live and breathe the values every day, so the fact that they can actually share those with parents and reporting and put those into words how they have used those values is really powerful.

Well the values really enhance good behaviour and a positive thinking. What they do is they encourage the children to really look at how they view themselves, and how they treat other people. Not only in the classroom but also in the playground, on the sports field, and in their lives outside of school. So what the values become, it becomes more than just putting on a Breens' uniform every morning, they actually really take ownership of the environment.

One of the strongest ways for student achievement at the moment that we are using our values is through the school license programme. That links to our five values, so the students earn badges linking to the five values. To earn a brave badge you have a series of five - not activities - they’re five things that students must complete. They’re building life skills, they’re building social skills, they're academic, they’re curriculum. Some are given from the teachers, some are student led - so we have that student voice of what they would like to achieve.

For the values I’ve joined kapa haka, now I’m the leader. So I never thought that was going to happen, until now.

The students are working, self managing, it’s a home learning programme but it also runs through our school as well. There are activities and tasks which underpin those things which they do, they bring into the classroom, they are moderated by our student council. When a student achieves all of those tasks for a particular value, for example, bold, they make an appointment to go and see the principal, they have a conversation with him around their learning, they talk about what they’ve been working on around that value, and he signs them off, and they are awarded a badge which then goes on their jersey which they wear.

So there are some really strong connections between our values and what happens in the classroom at learning level.

I’ve taken the values from Breens to St Bede’s which has really helped me start my year at St Bede’s and I think it’ll help me for the rest of my school days, and my life.

Well when I first started at St Bede’s you really had to be brave to make new friends, because going to St Bede’s from Breens I didn’t know anybody there. So I really had to get out there and make new friends, and just answering questions in the classroom.

So when it comes to raising student achievement, if we can get all those five things happening and those students are striving to be the best they can be - then that’s what we want for every child.      

Published on: 17 Jul 2013