Listen to its apPEAL.

Get it?

There are many metaphors to use about keeping the Shared Vision of a school sustained. Here, I recommend Senge’s book, Schools that Learn, that contains a whole section about how schools around the world have worked hard to develop meaningful shared visions and how they have stayed true to their message.

As two quick examples I know of a school district where, in their elementary schools, their mission is recited after the Pledge of Allegiance. I know of several school districts where the mission statement is visited as the first teaching task of each school year. Each grade level has an assigned task, appropriate to it, that they complete; e.g. poetry, pictures, writing assignments, etc. These are shared in  a special Fair within the first two weeks of school’s opening.

What’s troubling about vision and mission statements and the fact that their appeal and momentum all too often lose their reverberation is that the effort to develop one that has long lasting meaning and by extension requires long lasting conscious sustenance and adherence may be developed poorly.

There is research both ways about this. That is, engage stakeholders pretty much from the outset in identifying those values, priorities and actions to meet both so that all the planning and involvement activities that follow are powered by that initial development of the shared vision. That would be fine if the facilitator and her stakeholders realize that the subsequent series of processes in which they are going to splash may very well lead them to CHANGE their initial thinking. And when that happens both the facilitator and the stakeholders have to be flexible enough to be willing to adjust and maybe even totally jettison what they originally agreed to.

If you have been part of the arduous and sometimes plodding process that may lead to a mission statement you will easily understand that it could be hard to give up a single comma notwithstanding that new thoughts and themes may have evolved in the activities that you have been participating in.

Better I think to wait on that shared vision statement until the group has had ample time to dialogue about what their shared vision will be.

Then and only then should it be solidified and then and only then should it be the rallying point for all of what a systemically healthy learning organization should be.