The Value Up Culture Building System
The Value Up School Culture Building System gives you a toolbox designed to help you strengthen the social climate of your school. After more than 20 years of working in schools, we are in tune with the challenges teachers and administrators face.
The Value Up system is built around one key principle.
- Adults Provide Structure
- Students Build Culture
This is a simple way to explain that no matter how many good intentions we have as adults, culture is established by what students say to one another. The Value Up Culture Building System helps you get students saying healthy positive things to one another.
We think that most schools are already Value Up schools. You are already working to build positive culture. Value Up consolidates that effort into one brand that students love and which students take ownership. We help by first motivating students and then providing the words and structure for students to speak to one another. You don’t need to stop doing anything you are currently doing, it just becomes a part of your Value Up efforts.
Imagine it is wrestling practice, and calisthenics are about to begin. The captain of the team grabs a clipboard from the team manager and reads, “Abraham Lincoln High School is a Value Up School. Whether you are the most skilled or most successful wrestler on this team or just beginning, your value is not determined by your skill-set. We accept nothing less than respecting and valuing each and every member of this team.”
Or at a basketball game, just before tip-off, a member of the team selected by his or her peers takes the microphone at a home game. “Students, parents, and visiting friends, Abraham Lincoln High School is a Value Up School. We recognize the worth of everyone in this room. We respect and admire the diversity of life represented here. As a Value Up School the student body of Abraham Lincoln expects each person in this gym to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects these ideas. Thank you, and let’s have a great game!”
The Value Up System will provide you with hundreds of what we call active impressions (like those above) and thousands of passive impressions each day as students interact with print material.
Cost: $5,500 Renewable Annually
The Value Up System Includes:
- Mile One Signature Assembly Program
- Integration Workshops*
- Value Up Video Curriculum
- Homeroom Q+A (A brief weekly discussion for Homeroom)
- Value Up Banner (signed by students at the Walk a Mile Assembly)
- Printable PDF posters for the halls
- Printable Value Up creeds specialized for school sports and activities
*The Integration Workshops are training after the signature assembly program. One workshop is for counselors, coaches, key teachers and administrators, training them on how to implement the Value Up System. A point person (usually a school counselor) is designated as the Value Up Coordinator. The second workshop is an optional workshop for key students, teaching them the Value Up System and gaining their support.
Why the Value Up System?
The social climate of a school affects so many aspects of the learning experience but it is the one thing that is difficult for administrators to control. We all want a positive school culture, but that looks different for every school and until now has not been an easy thing to achieve. We have learned that no two schools are alike, and every school is its own micro nation.
We look at schools from two different lenses. Every school has two separate governments that are active all the time. There is the obvious administrative government, and then there is the less understood and very powerful social government. The word “government” means “the control exercised over the body of its members.” Both governments have control of specific aspects of the school, but the people in power of each of these governments are not the same.
In a perfect world, these two governments work together to build a healthy learning environment. In order for them to be in agreement, you have to understand the role of each government. The administrative government controls structure, and the social government controls culture. A very important point to understand is that culture is created when students are talking to students. Adults cannot create culture in a school – students do.
Adults can inject ideas and principles, but it isn’t a part of the school culture until it is embraced by students and repeated by students to each other. School culture can be defined by simply asking what students are saying to each other when adults are not listening. Young people do not sit home at night rehearsing and perhaps agonizing over what adults said to them during the day. They are replaying over and over what their friends and peers are saying to them.
The administrative government cannot create the culture, but it can provide a structure for students to begin to say the right things to each other. For example, we have been in schools where structure (administrative government) is driving academic achievement, but the established culture (social government) is one in which trying academically is socially negative. That won’t change because of a different academic focus or academic structure. It requires a change in the social government.
We created the Value Up School Culture Building System because students want to come to school and feel socially safe. They want to feel like they have value. That value translates into safety and increased engagement in their learning process.
Culture is identity. If we help them build the right culture, then they will have the right identity. This system will really help you in your efforts to strengthen your learning environment. Value Up becomes the identity of your positive culture building efforts, and the best part is that it is primarily student driven.
Key Message of the Value Up System:
You have value no matter what. Value is intrinsic. It does not depend on social status, grade point average, athletic ability, or any other variable that we use to measure someone’s worth. The struggling student in your school has just as much value as your valedictorian. There are different rewards and consequences based on behavior, but value is universal.
Many programs focus on helping students show respect and dignity to other students. They focus more on policing behavior. We believe that is important, but it is a one-sided approach. Our system focuses not only on treating other people with dignity and value but also understand your own intrinsic value. The natural byproduct of valuing yourself is valuing others as well. Compassion and respect for yourself translates into compassion and respect for others.
Changing the Language of the School Culture
In order for this system to be successful, students will take in the Value Up message hundreds of times throughout the year. We describe these as active and passive impressions.
Active Impressions are when students speak and engage other students with the Value Up message. The goal is for each student to hear 100+ active impressions of the Value Up system each school year. (Active impressions are student to student.) We will provide scripts for students to read before practices, at home games, etc. The goal is that the scripts get replaced by student driven content as this message of value takes root in the culture.
Passive impressions are banners, posters, t-shirts, and other tangible items that promote this message. Passive impressions are only effective if they reinforce the student driven culture. They don’t create it.
Video Curriculum, Discussion Questions & Classroom Activities
We have created a series of videos and weekly homeroom discussions to help digest the Value Up message and give students healthy words to use with one another. These videos and discussions are tools that can be integrated into what you are already doing or implemented weekly in a homeroom or advisement class.
Streamlining Parent Communication
School administrators face the difficult challenge of communicating with parents. Parents are the most important voice in building up (or undermining) intrinsic value in their kids. Most of the deficiency in intrinsic value stems from a poor parenting situation. Value Up provides a clear standard of expectation and respect that parents will understand. Schools will be able to integrate Value Up language in their communication.