Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Refreshing your school vision.

The key to an aligned school is to have a shared language ( 'key' beliefs) so everyone involved can make decisions with confidence.

I was recently sent the final copy of a school vision I had assisted them with last year. Since my input the school has undertaken lots of work with staff, teachers, students, and the community, to ensure ownership by all. This is as it ought to be.

One of the staff members had used her computer design skills to shape it into a very attractive document but the proof, as ever, will be in its application.

A recent Ministry document ( 'School Curriculum Design and Review' 2007) makes some worthwhile suggestions for schools to review how they are placed to implement the 'new' New Zealand Curriculum so as to ensure a 21stC educational environment is provided.

It asks schools to consider if:

If their vision is clear and shared by all?
If it expresses what you want for your students?
If the vision is reflected in the school curriculum?

If you have identified the values that are to be the basis of every ones actions?

If you have clarified how you are going to implement the 'key competencies'?

If the school curriculum is designed to meet the needs of your students?

Well this is only a summary of a few of the suggestions but they give good advice. The school vision I received aligns well with all the suggestions. I was going to say 'complies' but that is not a word that sits well in this new age!

In another Ministry document ( 'Assessing the Key Competencies' 07 page 8) there are suggestions that fit in well with ensuring your vision is fully implemented and more than just words.

Is there a shared language ('key' beliefs)that underpins all teacher actions?
Is there a process to review the beliefs and to add new ideas as you learn more?
Are the students able to articulate the beliefs as they apply to them?
Are the beliefs displayed for all to see so all can 'self reference' their actions?
Do teachers and students use the common language in their learning conversations?
Is there a process for teachers and students (self and peer assessment)to get feedback about the ways they are implementing the beliefs?

This is an adaptation of the ideas presented (they were written to implement the key competencies) but it is great to see ideas being expressed that I also strongly believe in.

As one of the Ministry documents states vision of the new curriculum will only, 'happen when the whole school community works to build a collective understanding of the school's vision of learning'.

Couldn't agree more.


Anonymous said...

It is developing the collective understanding that is the real challenge of leaders - it requires teachers trusting their leaders that it is worth the effort in working towards the vision

Bruce said...

Leaders, in a complex world, have to have the confidence, but not certainty, for followers to be prepared to take the risks to be leaders themselves.

Bruce said...

Collective understanding is just the beginning, it needs to be followed by: staff 'capacity building' in the meaning of the 'common language' ( teaching beliefs); monitoring to see they are in place; and providing assistance to those in need so as to develop a continuous cycle of improvement.