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Establishing core values and individual/staff goals


A good staff knows that working together to produce student media is an involved and challenging process that involves a constant series of decisions. Getting clear on a few key elements that matter most will help the staff focus its efforts. This lesson will expose students to the idea of core values. Students will identify their individual core values and determine the core values of the staff. Based on those core values, they will develop goals for the year. Students will periodically re-evaluate their goals and reflect on their performance in order to determine what adjustments to make.


  • Students will define their individual core values and decide the core values of the staff.
  • Students will set their own individual goals for the year and determine staff goals for the year.
  • Students will periodically reflect on their goals and how effectively they are meeting them. If they don’t feel they are succeeding, they will establish new goals.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.


One 90-minute class or two 50-minute classes


Handout: Goals

Lesson step-by-step

1. Building background — 45 minutes

Explain to students that today they will learn about core values, determine their own personal core values, work as a group to determine the staff’s core values, set their own goals for the year and determine the staff’s primary goals for the year. Begin by allowing students to brainstorm a definition of “core value.” List these on the board or overhead projector.

A traditional definition is: “core values are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ to accomplish our mission. The values underlie our work, how we interact with each other, and which strategies we employ to fulfill our mission. The core values are the basic elements of how we go about our work.” (U.S. National Park Service)

Why do we have core values?

  • to guide principles that dictate behavior and action
  • to help people to know right from wrong
  • to help groups determine if they are on the right path and fulfilling their goals
  • to create and unwavering and unchanging guide

Now let’s move to examples of core values. Have students list on a sheet of paper and then share with the group what they feel their core values are as individuals. Some examples might include:

  • a belief, or lack thereof, in God and/or an affiliation with a religious institution
  • a belief in being a good steward of resources and in exercising frugality
  • a belief that family is of fundamental importance
  • a belief that honesty is always the best policy and that trust has to be earned
  • a belief in maintaining a healthy work/life balance

Consider this list of core values that can apply to individuals or to groups:

  • dependable
  • reliable
  • loyal
  • committed
  • open-minded
  • consistent
  • honest
  • efficient
  • innovative
  • creative
  • humorous
  • fun-loving
  • adventurous
  • motivated
  • positive
  • optimistic
  • inspiring
  • passionate
  • respectful
  • athletic
  • fit
  • courageous
  • educated
  • respected
  • loving
  • nurturing

Remember, a core value is only a core value if it is reflected in how you act and behave and it has an active influence (if the people or group manage to live by it, at least most of the time).

Have students list three to five core values they believe guide them as individuals. Allow some time for students to discuss their choices. Make sure you have an affirming environment where everyone is respectful of the choices shared.

As a class, begin to brainstorm what you feel are the core values of your media. Have students list these on their own first and then write them on the board or overhead. At the end of the exercise, it might be clearly obvious what the majority or your staff members feel are your staff’s core values. Discuss those attracting the most support or attention. How does your staff act/behave to show that you live by those values? List those behaviors.

(This lesson could also be coupled with developing a mission statement for your staff and probably should be done while you’re doing work with your staff manual. This happens at different times of the year for different staffs, but still is worth a good discussion and good re-evaluation periodically.)

2. Individualized work15-20 minutes

Distribute the goals handout and have students work through it. By the end of this activity, they should have three very specific goals for themselves for the year as it relates to their involvement on the staff. They should also have three suggestions for entire staff goals for the year.

Be clear with students that all goals should be SMART:

  • Specific A specific goal has a greater chance of being accomplished than a general one. Answer the six questions: Who is involved? What do I want to accomplish? Where will it happen? When is the time frame? Which requirements and constraints exist? Why? (What is the specific reason, purpose or benefit of accomplishing this goal?)
  • Measurable Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal. Ask questions like: By how much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?
  • Attainable Determine realistic ways to reach your goal. What strategies will you use to develop the attitudes, skills and financial capacity to reach your goals?
  • Realistic/Relevant The goal must represent an objective toward which you are willing and able to work. Why do you want to reach this goal? What is the objective behind the goal, and will this goal really achieve that?
  • Timely The goal should be grounded within a time frame. Establish a sense of urgency. We work with deadlines — this should be a no-brainer!

Collect worksheets as students leave class and make a list of staff goals that kids have come up with for the year. Rank them in order from highest to lowest. Be prepared to share the list during the next class period.

3. Second half of class or following day

Look at the list of class/staff goal ideas for the year. Decide which 3-5 are SMART and best for your particular staff based on the core values. Do this as an entire class activity. However you decide to reach consensus, make sure you come up with goals that unite the staff.

4. Assessment

Ways you could choose to assess this work:

  • grade the individual goals that each student comes up with by determining whether they are SMART goals. Use the following rubric:
Fully meets expectations

(2 pts.)

Partially meets expectations

(1 pt.)

Doesn’t meet expectations
(0 pts)
Points Awarded
Specific Goal is specific and is able to answer all questions. Goal is ambiguous and only answers a few of the related questions with specifics. Goal seems unrelated or abstract, leaving unanswered questions.
Measureable Goal is clearly measurable. Goal could have some aspects measured, but not all. There is no way to measure this goal.
Attainable Goal can be reached through specific methods. Goal could potentially be reached, but it’s not clear how. Goal is too lofty and can’t be reached within the time frame.
Realistic Objective is clear and student is willing to meet this objective. There may be objectives, but they aren’t clearly stated. Student is not fully committed. It is unclear why the student wants to reach this goal or whether he is willing.
Timely There is a clear time frame to meet this goal. Goal may be reachable within a certain time frame, but it’s unclear what all those deadlines are There is no time frame whatsoever to meet this goal.

5. Periodic Goals-Based Evaluation

Periodically, you need to reflect and evaluate the extent to which your media program is meeting predetermined goals. Questions to ask when you do this evaluation could include:

  • How were the goals established? Was the process effective?
  • What is the status of your staff’s progress toward achieving the goals?
  • Will the goals be achieved according to the timelines specified when you set the goal? If not, then why?
  • Do people have adequate resources (money, equipment, training) to achieve the goal?
  • How should priorities be changed to put more focus on achieving goals?
  • How should timelines be changed, if an all?
  • How should goals be changed? Should any goals be added or removed? Why?
  • How should goals be established in the future?


Advanced students can handle more elaborate, detailed goals and may benefit from having additional goals added throughout the year. These students could also be paired with struggling students to help them identify SMART goals.

Students who need more support or a different approach might benefit from a smaller number of goals to focus on at one time. Teachers can work with these students to create one or two goals that might be fairly easy to achieve/measure and then move on to setting loftier goals.

Another option is to invite editors or advanced students to conduct online research to find and share major national corporations and/or local businesses to report on their core values. They can share these examples to help shape discussion. This could also work for beginning students, as they have no previous student media experience to draw from. They could work in small teams to research and present a professional example based on online research while returning staff members could guide the part of large-group discussion related to past experience and the known strengths and weaknesses of the staff.