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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Distinguishing Values and Beliefs

Authored By:

Carolee Hayes


October 3, 2023

In both Adaptive Schools and Cognitive Coaching, we emphasize using paraphrases of the values and beliefs we hear in conversations with others. When we surface values and beliefs, it may provide insights into sources of conflict or offer insight into a person’s motivations and experiences. It also contributes to increased consciousness and, in some situations, interdependence.

Often as trainers we are asked how does one distinguish values and beliefs. Webster defines them as follows:


relative worth, utility, or importance

something (such as a principle or quality) Intrinsically valuable or desirable


a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing something that is accepted, considered to be true, or held as an opinion

Paul Ingram and Yoonjin Choi further clarify these terms in their article, “What Does Your Company Really Stand For?”


the ends you pursue


the paths you perceive as leading to those ends

Given these insights, an educator might paraphrase another with a statement like,

“You value higher level thinking and believe that ongoing student dialogue will promote that end.”


“You came to this school because you value diversity. You believe equitable practices are essential for diverse students to thrive.”

As you listen to others this month, listen for their values and their beliefs. Make an extra effort to paraphrase those and reflect on the results.

Ingram,P & Yoonjin, C. (November-December 2022). “What Does Your Company Really Stand For?” Harvard Business Review.

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