Today, I heard one of my colleagues say he didn’t want to be an author of confusion. It’s an idea from 1 Corinthians and while I am not religious at all, I really like this idea as it pertains to our work within educational institutions. Making sure that we build clarity around vision in the broader context of a school or district and in the smaller learning communities within is so important. In many institutions there seems to be a clarity about vision in administration meetings, but that clarity rarely makes it down to classroom teachers, parents, or students.
Without a commitment and focus on vision we lose the opportunity for growth because at it’s core a vision is where we want to go. If we aren’t clear on where we want our school, our students, and our faculty to go we run the risk of becoming disjointed, our message is muddled, and any path we take is bumpy.
Vision and mission statements are usually created in isolation. Clarity can be built in creating shared mission and vision statements and in the constant evaluation or tweaking of our vision and mission.
The image that keeps coming to mind here is from Gremlins. Every time we obscure our vision, every time we don’t keep it as our guiding light, it’s like throwing water on Gremlins. In the end there are consequences, offshoots of that confusion, little Gremlin visions that take hold and impact our growth and our school culture. They are not as cute and cuddly as our original Gremlin, our original vision seemed in our minds.
Yesterday I was thinking about this as it pertains to professional development. I really like the Learning Forward Standards for Professional Learning. The idea behind these standards or any other (those for teacher leaders or students) is focus, and even equity. They are a tool for backward design. They limit confusion. They author clarity. In the same way our vision and mission should author clarity for our teachers, students, and community.
Ideally, every decision we make about professional development, student learning, and teacher growth should be made with the vision in mind, a shared vision built around true understanding.
So, what are we doing to keep from authoring confusion? Are we building opportunities to author clarity together through our vision? How are we keeping the Gremlins out of our culture?