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Teaching Social and Emotional Learning: Helping Students Identify their Core Values



As educators, we know that social and emotional learning (SEL) is just as important as academic learning. One key aspect of SEL is helping students identify their personal core values. In my high school classroom, I recently facilitated a lesson to help students do just that. Here’s how it went:


First, I presented the slideshow (attached) explaining what core values are and their importance. Each student was then asked to select 10 values that resonated with them personally from a list provided to them. Next, they narrowed down their list to seven values, and finally to their top three.


After selecting their top three values, each student was given a keychain on which to record their values. This served as a tangible reminder of what they had identified as most important to them. We also discussed how our values influence our decisions and behaviors.


This lesson was powerful for many reasons. It helped students recognize and articulate their values, which is a crucial step in developing self-awareness. Additionally, it gave them a sense of ownership over their values, and a way to display them in a concrete way. It also opened up discussions about how our values impact our interactions with others and the world around us.


I would highly recommend this activity to other teachers in our district. Identifying personal core values is an important part of social and emotional learning, and it can be easily adapted to fit various grade levels and subject areas. By helping our students develop self-awareness and a strong sense of their own values, we can set them up for success both in and out of the classroom.




Brian LaFountain


Math Teacher


Central Valley High School



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