Revisiting My Core Values

A year ago I explored my core values with an activity by author Elena Aguilar. I wrote about the experience here. My three core values, based on that activity were:

  • Equity
  • Making a difference
  • Trust

This weekend I participated in the first two of five sessions of the Women in Educational Leadership (#WEL) Institute, here in San Diego.  One of the activities we did was to discuss our core values.

The presenter provided us with a set of at least 25 words, on individual cards. We were told to put each card face up so we could read each individual card, on which was written a core value. Our deck of cards also included blank cards on which we could add a word that was important to us, if it was missing from this collection. Because of my previous work with core values (see the post linked above for more details), and the passion I have for this concept, I added the word “equity” to my deck of values.

We slowly had to turn over sets of cards so that we had fewer and fewer words face up. In the end, we were to select our top four core values. These are the four I ended up with today:

  • Equity
  • Integrity
  • Empathy
  • Creativity

Similar to each of the times I’ve taken the Strength-Finder quiz, I was interested to see my list of core values shift slightly since lat year. Granted, the list of words for each activity was not identical, but neither is my current state of mind. After a day and half of focused work with a large group of women leaders representing 27 districts across Southern California, I had a different perspective than I might on another day.

Looking at this list of four words today, I’m reflecting on what resonates with my leadership and learning world.

My leadership vision is to provide equitable learning opportunities for student and adult learners. After attending a two-day workshop with the National Equity Project, getting to know my colleagues through an equity lens, and really reflecting on my unearned advantages and disadvantages, equity is more important to my leadership work than every before. I believe I will continue to be driven by this core value until I know that each and every student receives a quality education that sets him or her up for success in life.

Integrity resonated with me today more than “trustworthiness”, which was in my top ten list of words. I respect leaders who do what they say they will, who follow through, who are morally just, and who are honest. I still believe that trust is a critical factor in building relationships, which build a positive school culture. However, when it comes to transformational leadership, integrity is what drives me and what I seek out in colleagues and mentors.

I know that empathy would not have been on this list had I done this activity 10+ years ago. It is only as I get older, more experienced, and possibly a little wiser (lol!), that I know how important empathy is to my leadership. Due to my life experiences, which are very different from that of the students I serve, as well as many of the colleagues with whom I work, I cannot speak from experience about certain situations. However, I can have empathy, by listening to understand the feelings of others. Empathy makes me a stronger leader, one is more prepared to fight against inequities on behalf of students who may not have a voice, or alongside colleagues ready to take up the cause.

Creativity surprised me today! If I had to narrow this list to three, creativity would not have made the final cut. But I kept it in the top four after an interesting discussion I had in a small group during the Women in Educational Leadership Institute. After reading a short excerpt about Steve Jobs, and his unwillingness to accept mediocrity, my group and I discussed how often we, in education, are willing to accept programs and instruction that is mediocre, in favor of building or maintaining relationships. The more we talked, the more I realized how important it is for leaders to encourage educators to be creative, to get out of routines that aren’t serving our students.

As always, I appreciate the opportunity to take time to reflect. I think that every educator is a leader and that every leader should be able to share their core values. Our core values are what drives us to do what we do, say what we say, and be our authentic selves, no matter where or how we lead. IMG_2180

About Amy's Reflections

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services in Southern CA, taking time to reflect on leadership and learning
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6 Responses to Revisiting My Core Values

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