I wrote the following for a grad school assignment tonight. Wanted to share it here too. It's still somewhat drafty, but it's a heartfelt start. <3
1. Describe the strategies your administration currently engages for building staff capacity within your school. What is working well, and what changes would your staff like to see?
2. As a school leader, as you begin to build a shared vision alongside your staff, what goals, values, and mission will you identify that motivates your staff to a common identity and collective advancement of your school’s agenda? (What you describe here is your Vision Statement as an administrator for your school).
I’m going to address the two parts of this prompt in reverse order because I feel like the why and the what should precede the how and because I believe that building community creates the necessary conditions for building staff capacity, crafting a common identity, and collectively advancing our school’s agenda.
This isn’t just a discussion board post. This is a Vision Statement. No pressure! :) If you think about it, our vision statement for our school is perhaps the most important thing that we will ever write during our tenure as a school leader. Words have power, and these words have more power to inspire and to transform than any others.
According to the Glossary of Education Reform, a vision is “a hoped-for future reality,” (Great Schools Partnership, 2015). Like Meindl, Ehrlich, and Dukerich (1985), I have “a romantic view of leadership,” (quoted in Leithwood & Louis, 2012, p. 229). My hoped-for future reality, my Pollyanna-ish ideal, my personal vision is one in which high school doesn’t suck, one where high school a happy place that students and staff are excited about going to each day when they get out of bed in the morning, and one where we will all look back in years to come and think, “That was awesome. This was time well spent. Those were the best days of my life.”
As for the strategies that my administration currently engages in to build staff capacity within our school, I’ll refer to their own comments from our staff retreat last summer. We shared these dreams during a whole group discussion, that I captured on chart paper, photographed on my phone, and uploaded to our shared Google Drive (Healdsburg High School, 2018). Here’s what we said.
What’s working well now:
Admins who are “warm and welcoming,” “more relational,” and “more focused on team building”
An “extremely talented and dynamic team”
“People here are crazy friendly”
Food at meetings
Time to share
What we’d like to see, and have more of, and be better at:
Current goals and focus
Don’t tiptoe around issues
A show of faith
A sense of community
A sense of adventure
A cohesive team
Steam to carry on
To feel charged up
Onboarding new students and welcoming returning students at the start of the school year
Monitoring our most at risk students throughout the school year
A culture where students do the work
A culture where work matters to students
That what we say in retreats and in meetings shows up in our work
These changes can only come about if we are all rowing in the same direction, and that direction is forward. In the days, weeks, months, and, God willing, years to come, I hope to build this shared vision alongside my staff, my students, their families, and our community. After all, “Vision comes alive only when it is shared,” (Westley & Mintzberg, 1989, quoted in Méndez-Morse, 1993). Or, as I always say, teamwork makes the dream work! :)
Great Schools Partnership. (2015, May 18). Mission and vision definition. Retrieved March 13, 2018, from https://www.edglossary.org/mission-and-vision/
Healdsburg High School (2018, August 10). HHS 2017-2018 staff retreat reflections and next steps.
Leithwood, K. A., & Louis, K. S. (2012). Linking leadership to student learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Méndez-Morse, S. (1993). Vision, leadership, and change. Issues...about Change, 2(3).
Merriam-Webster. (2018). Pollyanna. Retrieved March 13, 2018, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Pollyanna