These statements can be powerful communicators of your commitment to student-centered learning. Use the tips and samples here to craft or rework your own.
Ideally, an organization’s Vision, Mission and Values are crafted as part of an organization-wide strategic plan. Sometimes, people skip this step because they consider it “fluff” work, or a drag on their time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Crafting these statements is fundamental to realizing a collective vision. And the process of crafting them is even more important than the language that eventually lands on the page.
So if your strategic plan is missing these elements, it’s time to bring together a wide variety of school and community stakeholders to build a common understanding about the direction of the organization, its highest aspirations, and how it wants to be viewed by the community. Even if you already have these statements in place, you may want to review them to gauge how well they communicate your commitment to student-centered learning. Do not rush this process. It’s better to take the time to do it well and with everyone you need at the table.
A vision expresses your organization’s aspirations for the future. Where do you want it to be in five or ten years? A vision is a concise statement and should be easy to remember. The classic example is, “A man on the moon in ten years,” spoken by President John F. Kennedy. His vision was, indeed, realized.
A great way to get the ball rolling on crafting a vision is to read the vision statements of similar organizations. Then, you can have a conversation about what you like and dislike about them, and begin sharing ideas on chart paper. When you have a version in hand (or a few versions), consider the following:
Is it memorable?
Is it the right length?
Is it inspirational without being too pie-in-the-sky?
Will people easily understand it?
Is it expressing the kind of organization we hope to be?
If you already have a vision statement, you may also want to look at your current version to compare the difference between the old and the new.
A final word: Don’t keep your vision, mission, and values statements filed away in a cabinet or folder. Design them, laminate them, and post them everywhere. Display them on the homepage of your website. Look at them on a regular basis, especially when you feel that your organization is drifting a bit or has a difficult set of priorities to weigh.
For more information about the toolkit, its origins, or the resources contained here, please contact Shaun Adamec, Director of Strategic Communications for The Nellie Mae Education Foundation, who coordinated its creation.
Tammy Davis, Superintendent, Winnisquam Regional School District in New Hampshire, talks about systemic reform in the first in a series of newspaper columns.
The following documents and links reflect recommendations based on the results of research on how Americans think about education and learning. Understanding what we are up against in the public square is important if we are to overcome the entrenched ways of thinking that will undermine our efforts to move student-centered education forward.
The following brochures and explainers are good models for what districts, schools and non-profit organizations might create to build public understanding of student-centered approaches to learning and system change. Please see Making Original Products for additional examples.
Deering High School, Portland Maine
A document that describes the high school’s remodeling efforts and its move toward global education, including its affiliation with the International Studies Schools Network (ISSN).
Founding a Local Listens Group
New Hampshire Listens, a project of the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, has created a two-page summary of the common guides principles and practices for effective public engagement.