A school’s vision statement is often overlooked, hidden, or inexplicably non-existent. It can be found on most school’s websites, hidden among bells schedules, lunch options, teacher websites, and PTA pages. Teachers, administrators often don’t know what is written in their school’s vision statement. Parents don’t either. Students … well, you get the picture. However, shouldn’t we all know the ideological foundation of the institution that we send our children to or work at each and every day?
A school’s vision statement should be dynamic, specific, and forward thinking. Statements should no longer make simple, generic claims like:
- We are preparing students for the future
- We believe all students can learn.
- Together, we are making our community strong.
Remember, a vision statement is like a road map. It tells a story of where you are going and how you are going to get there.
Here are 5 ways to craft and communicate a dynamic vision statement that can and should be shared with all stakeholders.
- Start From Scratch
Many teachers and administrators inherit generic school visions when they get hired. Individuals who are no longer connected with the school created these forgettable statements decades ago. These statements were also created when educational practices, expectations, and tools were different. Do yourself and your school community a favor and start over.
- Bring All Stakeholders to the Table
The best statements are created by a diverse group of stakeholders that include teachers, administrators, parents, community members, and students. Make sure that you are including them in the creation of the school’s vision statement. This way, buy-in from these groups in their entirety will be easier to gain.
- Make The Vision Breathable
Too many school vision statements are stale, lifeless creations that don’t mean anything in the real world. They only exist in the vacuum of the page, not in the collective consciousness of the school. When someone steps onto your campus they should be able to see, hear, and feel the vision in action. This notion takes place at all levels of the school from the front office, to the cafeteria, to classrooms, and to hallways and playgrounds.
- The Elevator Pitch
Men and women in sales perfect their elevator pitch every day. Pretend you are riding up an elevator with another person. As the doors are closing, they ask you to explain what makes your school special or different than others. You have until the elevator stops at their floor to answer them – about 30 seconds. Could you do it? Could your staff do it? Parents? Students?
- Make It Public
A school’s vision statement needs to be publicized and should be front and center in every communication. Give it a central location on their school’s website. It should be a part of the header of paper communications and included in the email signatures of staff members. Furthermore, the school’s vision should be consulted when making program, budget, and personnel decisions. You will want the decision-making process and outcomes to match the collectively created school vision that makes the school unique.
Dr. David Franklin, CEO of The Principal’s Desk, is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at http://www.principalsdesk.org.