Wednesday, June 29, 2005
The big picture counts!
It's the big picture that counts.
A lot of confusion and wasted energy exists in many organizations because no body has bothered to let the workers into the ‘big picture’. The ‘big picture’ of an organization is its vision, or mission, and if one exists, it allows the alignment of the behaviors of all to achieve a shared purpose. Too often many workers are totally unaware of how their personal efforts contribute to the success of the organization and, worse still, they may even be working at cross purposes.
Schools suffer from the same problem, but often there is no urgency to clarify the purpose, possibly because no one thinks there is a need; or because schools, unlike businesses, are guaranteed an existence. Without vision, as the Bible says, people perish – in schools they simply achieve mediocrity.
It is an interesting exercise to ask your students to tell you what the purpose of their school is. Their answers will tell you what metaphor, or ‘big picture’, they have in their heads. Hopefully you would want them to say it is a place where teachers help them develop the talents and skills for them to continue as positive life long learners. More likely it will be something like a place where teachers make you learn. The difference in the two answers is important.
The same thing applies as to how they see their teachers and themselves. Are teachers ‘coaches’ or ‘tellers’; are they ‘explorers’ or ‘followers’? These hidden mindsets shape all the interactions of the school and they shouldn’t be left to chance. If one includes the parents’ views, the issue is even more important.
The purpose of schooling is not as obvious, or as simple, as you would think.
In most case the pieces gain more importance in people minds than the big picture; and all too often no one is helped to see how the pieces fit into any picture at all. Too often school experiences, for both students and teachers, are fragmented by subject and time. Current curriculums are compiled of countless objectives that need to be pulled together so students can hold them in their minds.
By defining the ‘big picture’ of the school and then, by defining and how each person contributes, a sense of shared purpose can be developed. If people work together school can be made a far more productive and creative place for all.
Big pictures are important; they provide focus and direction. The individual bits, without a 'big picture' in mind create confusion, mixed messages, and loss of direction.
What is the 'big picture' of your school? What does your school stand for? Are all the pieces part of the same puzzle? It would be a shame if everyone was trying to create a different puzzle!
Why don’t you ask them?
The 'big picture' of School culture counts!