Monday, August 07, 2006

A model for a 21stC School Vision.

  Posted by Picasa Developing a school vision is not such a difficult job.

Putting it into practice and maintaining it is the real work.

What is required is an image, or metaphor, that everyone can remember and that is in turn clarified and made more specific by the mission, the values chosen, and finally the core teaching beliefs.

Traditional schools, with reputations earned in a past era, have it easy – their school motto is clear to all and their values and beliefs are implicit and rarely questioned. They know what they stand for.

If a school wants to develop a new vision for their school it is important to involve everyone in the process because people work hard for what they have had a part in creating.

Often a local geographical feature of the landscape provides inspiration for a simple vision phrase. In other cases a Maori saying is appropriate. Sometimes the school’s name provides the inspiration. Often there is already a suitable phrase ‘hidden’ in the current school mission.

Writing a statement expanding what the vision phrase means and the challenges involved is important. What do you want to achieve for your students so they can thrive in what will be an uncertain but potentially exciting future? What strategic issues need to be considered to achieve the vision?

The mission just focuses the staff on achieving the vision but the values are important to demonstrate how you are all going to relate to each other, work together and make decisions.

Finally the teaching beliefs provide the real focus for the teaching team to achieve the intent of the vision.

It all can be as simple as:

Vision :

To develop the talents, dreams and passions of all students.


Students to respect: themselves, others, other cultures, and their environment.
To treat people as they would wish to be treated.
To learn to make the ‘best choices’ they can and always to consider ‘next time’.
To involve students and parents as learning partners.

Teaching Beliefs (each to followed by a set of agreed ‘We will’s:)

1. All students to acquire appropriate ‘foundation skills’

2. Students to be ‘powerful learners’

3. Teachers to act as ‘learning advisers’.

4. ‘Rich, real and relevant curriculum’ challenges.

5. To provide ‘celebratory and informative learning environments’.

If each of the above were combined into a Performance Agreement then the teachers could use their initiative and creativity, using the above as a means to self reference their decision and to plan appropriate professional development. If all agree with the beliefs then accountability and monitoring ought to seen as an important means to ensure the vision is not lost track of.

To achieve such focused simplicity would require a number of ‘learning conversations’ with all involved in the school to develop the clarity of intentions required to be able to trust team and individuals to get on with their job of teaching and learning. The teaching beliefs ought to be clear and 'owned' by all teachers and ensuring this is an important role of team leaders and the principal - the 'lead learner'.

If all this is achieved then you have a ‘vision lead school’; a ‘learning community’ able to trust ‘self managing teams’ able to continually reflect on how well things are going and able to make continual qualitative improvements.

Such schools are few and far between but the ones I have seen are the fun ones to work in.

Well over a score of schools in New Zealand have adopted the above model to suit their particular sitution.

There is an example our site Leading and Learning for the 21stC


Anonymous said...

Developing students' talents passions and dreams is a more inspirational vision than the Ministry's 'closing the achievement gap'.

Anonymous said...

When you visit the classroom of a creative teacher you can feel the mutual respect and affection for each other that the teacher has created -I guess this is a 'vision led class?'

The chalhenge for a real leader is to create a whole school of such classes.

We need creative leaders - far too many managers around these days relying on control and clear folders!

Anonymous said...

What is the process to expand each of the teaching beliefs and what sort of ideas would be relevant?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bruce.