Imagine randomly selecting teachers and asking them, “What is our school’s vision?” How many different answers would you receive? Sure, they’d share commonalities, but would they be grounded in a collective philosophy? Would they align with a specific plan of action? Or would they be hazy generalities that mention “student success,” “academic rigor” and “excellence?”
Schools succeed when all of us—administrators and teachers—are working in step towards a common goal. One of the best ways to make this happen is by creating (and putting in writing) a vision statement. Most institutions (churches, corporations, clubs, small businesses) have one and while you can certainly use these to get you started, we wanted to share a collaborative activity to help you develop your own. This idea comes courtesy of Pam Robbins’s and Harvey Alvy’s book, The New Principal’s Fieldbook.
5 steps to creating a unified school vision statement
As you and your faculty consider your vision statement, reflect on the following questions:
- Who are we serving?
- What are the characteristics of our students and their families?
- What changes have we made in the past and what changes are we planning for the future?
- What expectations do we have for our students? Each other?
- What are our dreams and aspirations for our students?
- What are our aspirations for the school?
- What kind of school do we want for our children?
- What will our students learn and how will they learn it?
- What distinguishes us from other schools?
- How will we measure or demonstrate these distinctions?
- If parents have a choice as to where they will send their child, why would they choose our school?
After an informal discussion about the above questions, pass out Post-it pads and one notecard for each staff member and work through numbers 1-5 below.
1. Ask your staff to reflect on the place s/he envisions his/her child going to school. What would it look like? How would the child be treated? What would his/her experiences be like? Now have your faculty write their reflections on a Post-it note.
2. Now ask the staff to think about a work environment they would like to go to every day. What would it look like? What would their experiences be like? Now have your staff write their answers on another Post-it note.
3. Now ask your staff to look over the two Post-it notes and do their best to consolidate them into one. When they are ready, have them write their thoughts on an index card.
4. Divide your staff into groups of four or five and assign one member as the group secretary. Each member should share their statements with the group. Once each member has shared their statement, the group must collaborate to create a unified statement. The group secretary is responsible for writing this down. Once each group is satisfied with its vision statement, they will write it on the board at the front of the classroom.
5. Now that all of your groups have written their vision statements on the board, it’s time to come back together as one group and repeat the process.