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92. PRACTICE: Values-Action Alignment Activity

by Lindsay Lyons
November 1st 2022
In today's practice solo episode, we are sharing an activity that can be done to see if our values and actions are in ... More
educational justice coach lindsey Lyons and here on the time for teacher ship podcast, we learn how to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice design curricula grounded in student voice and build capacity for shared leadership. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach. I'm striving to live a life full of learning, running, baking, traveling and parenting because we can be rockstar educators and be full human beings. If you're a principal assistant superintendent, curriculum director instructional coach or teacher who enjoys nursing out about co creating curriculum students, I made this show for you. Here we go in this episode. We're going to dive into a key practice that I recommend a values action alignment activity you may have found in my diagnosing adaptive challenges many workbook. This practice is suggested by adaptive leadership scholars. This is one with a curricular focus. I've adapted it a little bit. I also want to say that this is a practice based episode.

I'm going to start to curie episodes of the solo variety where it's just me talking to you in various forms. So I'll talk a little bit more about that. But let's dive into this practice episode. Hello and welcome to another solo show of the time for teacher ship podcast. This is going to be a practice episode. And what I mean by that is I'm going to start organizing the solo shows by specific type. So sometimes it will be a recommended practice or resource I've developed for you. Other times it will be a case study, maybe a coaching call or something in which you know, something's happening out in the world and you see something put into action. So you can kind of take away from what they have done to learn from that. Another one will be a resource dive where I take an organization, uh text based library, uh something that exists out in the world that you can use to help you develop awesome curriculum, a current event that something is happening in the world and you're maybe grappling with, how do we address this as a district, as a school, as a teacher in a classroom?

What kind of resources do I need? What kind of things do I need to consider when I have a conversation about this with students or plan a lesson or unit around this for students and then the final one is a mindset shift, so a key idea that might be new or push thinking something that's going to really underlie transformative change in a curriculum development lens. So those are going to be the new kind of topics. And again, as I said, this one is a practice episode. So the practice here or recommended strategy I would suggest is a values action alignment activity. As I said in the opening, this is adapted from the diagnosing adaptive challenges, Many workbook that I've shared before on the podcast and on the blog, This is more focused around curriculum review. So if you are a curriculum leader all the way down to if you are a teacher um and anywhere in between your an instructional coach or a principal, anyone who has anything to do with curriculum.

If you are thinking through this lens of values, I think there's going to be something profound in your planning. That shifts honestly, I never planned this way. And so as a coach, I've developed kind of this language and these practices and I kind of want to go back to be able to say how would I plan differently. I think it would have been transformative. So let's dive into this and kind of think with that lens of how can you coach teachers or support teachers or department, right? Or how as yourself as a teacher, if you're a teacher, how do I do this in a way that is of course sustainable and doable. But also that really pushes me to center these values in all of my planning and collect the data to make sure that everything is aligned in the way that I think it is first step here, we need to decide what our values are. So you can decide on your personal individual values that's gonna figure out, help you figure out, you know, how you are interacting and planning and doing all of that. But also I think, you know, your class, your school, your district, all of these levels that we have in education, they have values as well and I believe that they should be co created right?

Everyone should know what the shared values are. They should come to consensus around them. They shouldn't just be handed to them, Right? So that's something that we want to think about. What are our values? What was the process of how we came to those values? Does everyone know our values? What is our website say about our values? And does that align, right? This is the values, action alignment activity. Does that align to what we're currently doing? There are a lot of values activities out there to be able to get to that place for you to find the values. So you could probably just google like values activities for for teams or something. I would suggest something like maybe starting with a list values and action is great and I'll include that as the free beach of this episode. There's some great values in action posters and they also have assessments that you can have your staff take. I've done this with students, I've done this with departments where you kind of figure out as an individual where your strengths are and then you look collectively at, oh, these values are the most commonly held in our staff or department team or our student Behati right, whatever that is, that's something that you can kind of start with and then you can open it up to discussion.

You can just start with an open discussion. I've also done activities with students before where there's kind of like the story and then throughout the story, students have to kind of use these kind of tickets that they made where they put down things that are really important to them and you can use these values, write down all the values that are important to them. And they have to kind of spend the tickets when you create the story and they come to an event in the story where they have to, you know, trade their tickets for survival or for something, right? And at the end they basically have, you know, three or four tickets left. And the idea is, it's a prioritization activity to be able to determine what is absolutely most important to you because we can say we hold all these values, but if you're only limited to a few, what are those that come out on top? Because often in curriculum development planning in life we have these clashes of values, right? We have competing commitments. That's another activity from the adaptive challenges workbook. But when we have these competing commitments, one wins. Right? So which ones are winning?

And if we can define that from the outset, right? And these are the values we really hold true. It's a little bit easier to determine in the moment. As for curriculum planning, as we're reviewing curriculum, as we're seeing it being implemented. Oh yes, I see that value come to the surface, I see that value being kind of the winner. When these two were in conflict, you can see this in class discussion, staff discussion, super interesting lens to view things on. So once you have the values established and everyone again has been a part of that conversation, we've come to consensus on it and everyone's really clear about what they are, not just at the moment we come to consensus, but they can recall and remember and constantly refer back to and name the values that we have agreed upon once the values are solid. Now, what I want you to do is the activity of values action alignment. So there's several questions you're gonna want to ask yourself. I would start as I often start with kind of an inventory or a data collection of what is currently going on. So you can look at a curriculum map, you can look at the different activities and you can use that as kind of one piece, but I like triangulating the data.

So what do the students say, what does the curriculum map or lesson plan or unit plan say? Why, what does the kind of instructional code or leader perspective? The observers may be pure observers, Other teachers, what do they say they're seeing? And then the instructional designer or implementer? Right. The teacher, what are they saying? So kind of figuring out that's more than a triangle, that's more than three points but figuring out all the different perspectives. What are the students being asked to do in a curriculum, What activities are they engaged in, what content are they learning about And then when you figure out what's going on, Each activity or each content piece, each element of the curriculum is going to be aligned to a value. So you have to not only identify what's going on, what are the activities of the content pieces that students are engaging with, but for each one of those. So once you list them out, type them up in a google doc, write them out on paper, you're going to identify a value behind the activity or the text used or the topic selection, whatever component of curriculum design that it is listing all the components aligning to all the values and then you can take a look at which values are people actually spending the most time on which values have the least time spent on them is their alignment to what we decided as a group that we valued.

Again, another perspective here would be the student's perspective to really make sense of this. You're not just coming in as kind of this leader or coach or even as the teacher in the class saying this is what's happening, You also want to get students perspectives, what values do you see being played out in the activities. So you can invite them to kind of track their activities or talk about the activities maybe that we're even most memorable to them throughout the week and then optionally you could even have a conversation about? What are the values of wanting to each or you know have them write that down as a journal prompt. So we've got the values that step one. We get clear on those come to consensus. Everybody's really understanding what they are. Then we figure out what activities or curricular components are there? What are students doing? What are they learning about? What texts are they using? Then we align the values to each activity. Next we want to have these big picture questions of what is success? Right. What is success for a curriculum for students?

Like why are we here? Right. What do we want to do for for students here? So one element of that is assessment. So think about that. What types of assessment are there a curricular component? Right. If we're listing all that stuff out, should include the assessments. So maybe zoom in a little bit on those components. So what assessments were there? Are the tests? Are they projects? Think about the grading aspect of those assessments. Are they able to retake or resubmit some of these assessments? Which ones are graded? Is everything grated? Are they graded equally? Do the assignments that are turned in as kind of the summit of projects at the end of each quarter or unit? Are those great and more are the most recent projects completed or assessments completed weighted more heavily than at the start of the year? Right. What's the grading scale? Is that growth based, is the proficiency based all these questions. Do students even know what their grade means? Are there rubrics? Are we clear about how things are being graded? Are they linked to really important priority standards?

So we emphasize again that growth. How much importance are we giving to standardized test scores? Right. And how we talk to students about grades or test data? How much time are we spending working on test prep stuff? Right. All of these large scale questions. I want you to kind of zoom into assessment. What are those assessment components? How does the values that we establish in the beginning? How did those values align to our assessment components of our curriculum? Also do a deep dive into our pedagogy? So specifically, I would say with the lens towards student voice and engagements how and how often our students asked to even share their perspective on class, How they're feeling? Do they see their identities and experiences represented in the class? And also do they see identities and experiences different from their own regularly in the content in the texts. Is the pedagogy or the protocols that are being students are being asked to engage in in classrooms, fostering their grappling, Fostering their voice, fostering kind of co creation between students and teachers and students and students.

Do they see the courses relevant for their lives now? Are their current events or societal issues they think we should be talking about but we aren't in classes in school as a whole. Right? So again, thinking about all the curricular components that are related to the pedagogy to what degree of student voice or in what manner are we inviting student voice? Our students engaged. Right. And how did those pieces align to our values? Everyone. Just a quick reminder that your free resource for this episode is a series of values posters you can grab them at lindsey Beth Lyons dot com slash blog slash 92. Now, back to the episode, the next kind of bucket I would look at is our policies, our discipline policies specifically or some people call it behavior management or class management. But thinking about our values again zoom into what happens when there is an outburst. Right? What behavior warrants a discipline referral? What are our class agreements? Are their behavioral expectations that really value things like quiet compliance or do we have more of that kind of co creation or That busy hum students talking to one another?

Students being able to disagree with the teacher offering some pushback. Okay, what are these things that are happening again? How do they align? How do those policies align and also the implementation of those policies? Because sometimes they're different than the policies themselves. How do those align to our values? Also zoom into the things that we publicly celebrate. So I'm thinking here of student creation, right? If we want curriculum that is inspiring students to create something new to apply their learning in a public way with an audience beyond the teacher for a purpose beyond the grade. Are we inviting family staff students and community members to see the publication or implementation of students projects of their work? Are we celebrating that or are we celebrating kind of quantitative metrics? Where we're just looking at kind of test scores, graduation rates, you know? Could we also, if we really want quantitative measures, are we are we talking about uh student voice survey results, right? Students feelings of matter, student opportunities for meaningful leadership in schools or even outside of schools, inclusion of students and families and school governance, even students sense of criticality or sociopolitical development.

Like what are we actually sharing about and celebrating publicly because students see what we celebrate publicly. Right. And does that align with our values? I think again I mentioned this before but looking at our website to figure out what are the things that our school or our district are really saying are of value for example. Do we have a D. E. I. Statement somewhere on our website that says yes, we proclaim to value the student experience and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging and justice and all this stuff. And then when we look at these things right at the metrics that were publicly celebrating, Do those align I think one more thing I want to kind of zoom into as you're kind of asking yourself all of these questions and doing this values action alignment is thinking about the process and not always the final product. I've talked about this before actually there's an upcoming episode where I get to interview dr steven weber who talks about this as well, the importance of process of a product and I would say what is the process of kind of how we come to consensus around success, How we, you know, figure out the data that we want to share publicly.

How we came to the conclusion of the values right? How we include a range of stakeholders in even this activity, right? And all of the things that we do in all the decisions that we make in the data that we collect. So just kind of thinking also about process versus product as you know, what do we value more and then linking that to a value itself. So once you have this, so again, just to recap we have created co created, I want to emphasize that our values with stakeholders were clear on those. We take all of the curricular pieces, we list them out all the activities, all the components and then we assign or link them to a value from the values list. Or maybe we see values that weren't even on the list that are coming up again and again, who knows? And again, I'm going to give you the values in action list so you can have a bunch of values to jump off from. I know sometimes it's hard to think of values language.

So once we have that we got the values, we align them to the components of the activities you're going to figure out and you're gonna see patterns emerging of these are the most common values, these are the least common values in terms of the activities we're doing. Do we have alignment? Yes or no or to what degree? And then you can ask okay, so maybe we've identified that we haven't really done much with this particular value that we state that we have haven't really seen it come up, seen other values a lot more. Why why have we not done more in alignment with X value and what has been getting in the way? So have that conversation with yourself introspectively, but also with stakeholders and community what's going on name that our activities are not in alignment with this value, what do we want to change? Do we want to change? Do we want to just get rid of that value? Maybe that's the value we actually don't hold or maybe we do hold it but we're just not seeing alignment between the value and our actions. What I suggest is after you've kind of done all of this the next step is naming this process and the importance of the values themselves, but also the values action alignment process in everything that you do.

So design always with the values in mind by doing something like putting at the top of all of your agendas, all of your lesson or unit plan templates. The question what what values are prioritized here? So one more time at the top of all agendas, lesson unit plan tablets. Right? The question what values are prioritized here? So every time that an individual teacher chooses a project topic or a particular text for a class, every time that we have a professional development session we lied for a school or the district, what protocols are we sharing? And do they emphasize the values that are important to us? For example student voice, Any time that are school or district sends out a public communication or invitation to you know celebrate something, What are we doing? Right? What values are prioritized in this communication and this messaging?

What values are prioritized in that P. D. In the protocols were teaching what values are prioritized in the text we chose or the project question or theme. I think just having this one simple question is a great kind of action step. Of course there's all the stuff that I think has to come before it. So determining what your values are co creating them getting clear and I do think it's helpful to do an inventory. It doesn't need to be as extensive as I just kind of listed here. But even just a thoughtful kind of like one hour P. D. Around values, action alignment or leadership team meeting where you're talking about the stuff I think it'd be really helpful to kind of go through and say do we have alignment and just do a little bit, look at, look at maybe one curriculum from there. I think sharing the messaging of what you have unearthed what you have determined to be true in your analysis of this and then posing this question, if we're clear on our values, we're not seeing them in alignment or we're not seeing particular with an alignment or even if we are let's continue that trend right let's continue doing this.

This should be a question we always keep in mind when we're planning we're doing anything as a school, as a district. What values are prioritized with this decision so with that go forth, determine your values, clarify your values. If you've already kind of had them do the inventory, do the alignment mapping and ask on everything that you do what values are prioritized here in this decision we're making. I can't wait to hear how this goes for you. Please please share, reach out, tell me how it goes. Tell me how you're using and implementing the strategy and again this is a practice episode. So get excited for more of this kind of themed solo shows coming up and I will talk to you next week if you're leaving this episode wanting more, you're going to love my live coaching intensive curriculum bootcamp. I help one department or grade team create feminist anti racist curricula that challenges affirms and inspires all students. We leave current events into course content and amplify student voices, which skyrockets engagement and academic achievement.

It energizes educators feeling burns out and it's just two days plus you can reuse the same process any time you create a new unit, which saves time and money. If you can't wait to bring this to your staff, I'm inviting you to sign up for a 20 minute call with me, grab a spot on my calendar at www dot lindsey beth Lyons dot com slash contact Until next time leaders continue to think Big act brave and be your best self. This podcast is a proud member of the teach Better podcast network, better today, Better tomorrow and the podcast to get you there, explore more podcasts at teach better dot com slash podcasts and we'll see you at the next episode

92. PRACTICE: Values-Action Alignment Activity
92. PRACTICE: Values-Action Alignment Activity
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