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Tool: Articulating a shared school vision

Generally, high-performing organizations have a clear vision of what they are about. A vision is the unique image of the future. The principal can articulate the school vision but cannot enact it alone. The principal can build capacity for the enactment of the school vision through personal enthusiasm and clear communication to beginning teachers.

The school vision is best communicated when clear, crisp and stirring language is used.   Extraordinary things are accomplished in schools when everyone is treated as an important contributing member, including beginning teachers.

Thinking about the school as a learning community may profoundly change the way we think about teaching and learning and the educational profession. The development of a learning community is sometimes referred to as creating a collective school vision.

Purpose of this tool:  This tool can be used as a stimulus to guide your thinking about promoting a learning community and building a vision. Build and plan for each stage. While you undoubtedly have a somewhat established community and vision, it needs to be revisited and refreshed each year. Beginning teachers will appreciate engaging with veterans in sharpening the focus and becoming part of the process.

How to use this tool:  Putnam and Burke (see p. 90) have proposed five stages or steps in the construction of a shared vision that you might find helpful in planning activities for faculty that promote a school community and a vision of what that community can accomplish:

  1. Beginnings, the process of orientation: How will we treat each other around here? How will we learn and study together?
  2. Establishing expectations: What are our norms, roles, and policies?
  3. Identifying and resolving conflicts: How can we build personally and socially responsible behavior?  Introduce problem solving/conflict management tools and decide as a group which one will be used when the needs arise (e.g., managing by consensus, problem finding/solving triad, first of five, etc.).
  4. Supporting and expanding production: How can we make progress with the business of teaching and learning?
  5. Disbanding: How can we make a transition and closure from the end of the school year to the next one?