Last week I reviewed the visioning and strategic planning documents for a school with whom I may work in the fall. Taking out the specifics for that school, I thought I would share my reflections on “how might we improve the path from forward leaning vision to sustainable, system-wide implementation of our strategic goals?”
I am a huge fan of deeper visioning statements, or whatever title we lend to this document. Mission and vision statements at schools tend to all have many of the same words, which makes it very difficult for the school community to enact, and the greater community to understand, a differentiated value. Longer, deeper articulations of the vision provide that opportunity for authentic differentiation in ways that allow faculty and staff to say “I see how I can contribute to the vision each day”, or someone out in the community to say “I see why my child should attend” or “I understand why the school is an important community resource”.
Embedded within the vision, virtues, and strategic visions of most schools are often words and phrases that offer the chance to build this differentiation, and also upon which to ensure systematic alignment of the program. I have found that “parsing” the existing language, highlighting the core words and phrases, is an extremely helpful first step transition from plan to implementation. What does “global” really mean? What is an “exceptional, innovative, and relevant” educational program? What do we mean by “excellent” teaching? How do we promote truly collaborative professional growth? How might we become a critical community asset?
If the entire faculty/staff engages in this reduction, and then in developing implementation strategies that address them with rigor, they have both understanding and buy-in; they will have created the implementation process. We apportion resources (time, money, people, physical space, and knowledge) in ways to best support an evolving program. Have we asked how our buildings support and amplify our strategic goals? Have we aligned our budget and professional development expectations to promote these goals? Are we hiring people who have demonstrated “excellence” in our key areas or growth? The process involves challenging ourselves to ask the hard questions, to ensure system-wide alignment of resources to these parsed vision elements. Where are we doing these things well? Where might we improve and how might we get there?
I will follow up tomorrow with some ideas for rubrics on how to measure success against our vision.