How to Live a Legacy of Values-Based Leadership in Classrooms

Suzanne Marie in front of Canadian provincial flags on a stage with a podium and grey carpet wearing a red dress and black shoes for How to Live a Legacy of Values-Based Leadership in Classrooms


Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Values-based leadership in classrooms is a model of educational leadership that emphasizes the importance of ethical behavior, respect, and compassion.

By applying this approach to the classroom, educators create an environment where each student feels safe and valued, allowing for profound personal growth and development.

For more than two decades, values-based leadership has been integral to my own classroom environment. Through this approach, I strive to promote positive behavior, foster a collaborative spirit among students, and help build their self-efficacy and confidence in learning.

This post summarizes my career and how I used values-based leadership in classrooms and shares an extensive and comprehensive list of teaching resources for how to put it into practice.


Over the years, I have acquired the qualifications to help and teach people.

  • Master of Arts in Conflict Analysis Management
  • Master of Education in Teaching Multilingual Learners, a Certificate in Conflict Management
  • Chartered Mediator Designation
  • Advanced Certified Development Project Manager Certificate
  • Certificate for a Teacher’s Preparation Program
  • Certificate in Conflict Management
  • Certificate for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)

These credentials enabled me to understand interpersonal relationships better and develop language teaching skillsets.

Teaching Practice

From the early 2000s, I taught and wrote courses for post-secondary schools in Canada.

I mostly shared the nexus between theory and practice regarding interpersonal relationships, communication skills, and conflict management.

While doing this, I also consulted on federal and provincial government research and community projects. In addition, I consulted with businesses, community groups, and not-for-profit organizations and provided professional development training.

Values-based leadership is the foundation for all activities throughout my career.

Masters of Education for Teaching Multilingual Learners

Recently, in the master’s program devoted to teaching multilingual learners, I was provided ample opportunities to deepen my knowledge of language learning and how to apply it in the classroom.

My two decades as an educator enabled me to practice new strategies to connect and engage my English language learners in a values-based classroom. This program truly fulfilled my passion for making connections and lifelong learning.

After completing this program, I participated in the following video interview explaining my experiences and what I learned:

This interview was fun and heartwarming as I recalled my experiences as a teenager and shared my life journey to completing an M.Ed. near the end of my teaching career.

The Role of Values-Based Leadership in Classrooms

Values-based leadership in classrooms is a model of educational leadership that emphasizes the importance of ethical behavior, respect, and compassion.

By applying this approach to the classroom, educators create an environment where each student feels safe and valued, allowing for profound personal growth and development.

Values-Based Leadership Principles

Values-based leadership utilizes four core values to create an environment that promotes personal growth and respect.

  • Self-Reflection. Self-reflection is important in values-based leadership, as it examines our decisions, actions, mindsets, and emotions. Taking the time to reflect on ourselves can allow us to identify and face any unconscious biases that could negatively influence our behavior. This process of self-examination can help us make more conscious and deliberate choices.
  • Balance. Obtaining a balanced view of any situation is important to school leaders. Striving for balance involves understanding the different perspectives and understanding them wholeheartedly and without judgment. It requires opening one’s mind and heart and truly striving to incorporate all the perspectives into their thought process.
  • Self-Confidence. Self-confidence is foundational to leading with integrity. It is the ability to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and to be driven to improve without comparing yourself negatively to others or feeling inadequate. This allows you to recognize and appreciate the gifts of yourself and those around you, valuing them for their contribution rather than seeing it as a sign of inadequacy.
  • Humility. Humility is essential to effective values-based leadership. Humble leaders remember their strengths and struggles as they ascend in their careers, staying mindful of the challenges others may face. They prioritize creating opportunities for others to reach greater potential, content with knowing that these successes bring personal satisfaction.

Norms for Values-Based Leadership

I’ve incorporated four norms for values-based leadership in classrooms throughout my teaching practice.

  • Acceptance. Valuing the views of others regardless of differences in opinion or background.
  • Transparency. Creating an open line of communication with the students to build trust.
  • Collaboration. Fostering a collaborative learning environment where everyone contributes.
  • Community. Encourage building relationships between each person in the classroom through collaboration, teamwork, and understanding.

Lead by Example and Model Positive Behaviors

As a leader in the classroom, it’s essential to embody the values-based leadership principles you expect from your students.

  • For instance, if you stress the importance of acceptance and respect for others, ensure all voices are heard during your lessons, discussions, and other activities.
  • Also, model positive behaviors for your students. An example is taking time for self-care and letting them know it’s okay to take a break when needed.
  • Finally, celebrate successes and learn from challenges as a group.

Beyond teaching instruction and content, values-based leadership in classrooms focuses on developing character.

Encourage Critical Thinking and Discourse

Values-based leadership in classrooms encourages students to think critically and makes use of meaningful discourse.

Challenge students to examine their perspectives and why they believe in specific ideas or concepts. Engaging students in critically thinking about their ideas helps them develop empathy, which is vital for any classroom setting.

Additionally, speak about the values you advocated for in the learning process. Listening attentively allows for better understanding and helps validate different points of view, which is crucial in developing an understanding between individuals.

Cultivate Collaborative Learning Environments

Values-based leadership in classrooms allows educators to cultivate collaborative learning environments.

This approach fosters meaningful relationships between students by emphasizing the importance of belonging in a classroom setting. These relationships teach them the skills to work effectively in collaborative environments.

  • Emphasize each person’s contributions to the table while highlighting divergent points of view and respecting differences of opinion.
  • Creating an open dialogue among students allows everyone to share their ideas without fear of criticism or judgment.

Focus on Developing Relationships with Students and Communities

Relationships are at the heart of values-based leadership in any setting, and classrooms are no different.

Embracing diversity in a classroom’s student population fosters an environment where everyone feels heard and valued.

Establish open communication with students directly, their families, and communities.

  • Building relationships encourages collaboration, which is bound to benefit the learning process.
  • Connecting enables educators to hear concerns from all perspectives and find creative solutions that allow everyone to participate in the process.

Keynote Presentation in Hainan, China

The Hainan, China Education Bureau has recently decided to host me as their keynote speaker for professional development training. This invitation is an amazing opportunity after years of hard work building my portfolio and establishing links with colleagues, students, and the school community.

This presentation outlined the core values of my classroom teaching approach, specifically targeting ways to reach English language learners effectively. I shared strategies for values-based leadership in classrooms and how to engage students in becoming ambassadors for norms guiding the learning process.

It exemplified real-world examples for teachers and provided student testimonials to support its effectiveness.

I’m grateful this video was shared with educators across Hainan province, Singapore, and beyond. A humbling opportunity that is still hard to believe.

Example of Values-Based Leadership in Classrooms

This presentation also shares lesson plans for teaching reading and writing to English language learners:

Live Preview | On December 18th, 2022, the Special Training Activity of Singapore Trainees Workstation for English Teachers of Primary and Secondary Schools in Hainan Province.


Values-based leadership in classrooms is an educational approach focused on cultivating students’ ethical and respectful behavior.

For more than 20 years, this model of educational leadership has been at the heart of my classroom teaching.

My goal is to nurture a positive learning atmosphere, cultivate collaboration among students, and help them build self-confidence and belief in their abilities.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,


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