Core values are defined, implemented, and embedded into school culture.
Schools that effectively emphasize character development bring together all stakeholders to consider and agree on specific character strengths that will serve as the school’s core values. These basic values transcend religious and cultural differences and express our common humanity. Ideally, a balance of moral, performance, intellectual, and civic character strengths, these “shared values” represent the school’s highest priorities and deeply held beliefs. A school committed to its students’ character development uses a common language to teach, model and integrate their core values into all aspects of school life. When Principle 1 is fully integrated, all staff, students, and parents can explain how their “shared values” are a distinctive feature of their school.
The school defines “character” comprehensively to include thinking, feeling, and doing.
The “core values” of a school serve as touchstones that guide and shape a student’s thinking, feelings, and actions. Principle 2 focuses on how a school helps its students understand, care about, and consistently practice the core values that will enable them to flourish in school, in relationships, in the workplace, and as citizens. Students need opportunities to study and discuss each core value, to connect their social and emotional skills to the patterns of behaviors associated with each core value, and ultimately to internalize and express in their own words why they want to consistently practice these character strengths.