Mission Possible

Podcast #8 continues our conversation about Professional Learning Communities. Specifically, we address two of the foundations of PLC’s- Mission and Vision. PLC’s are currently the happening movement in education. One of the best parts of PLC’s is that they are based around the classroom. They also call for all teachers to be involved and part of the process.

The first topic of discussion is the Mission.

Mission is the first building block: Basically, this asks the important question:

Why do we exist?
All schools currently have mission states. All of them sound very similar, this is OK. Next we take on the All kids can learn conumdrum.

This is based upon everyone agreeing that All kids can learn. However, we may have different definitions of what that means. DuFour points out four different possibilities:
All kids can learn
…..based upon their ability. Learning is fixed and educators have little effect. Educators create multiple tracks (pathways) to address the differences in learning. Future is predetemined.
…….if they take advantage of the opportunities. Educators must present things in clear and engaging ways. In the end, it is up to the students though.
…….and we will accept responsibility for ensuring their growth. Educators are responsible to help students grow but the extent of that growth is determined by the student.
……..we will establish high standards of learning that we expect all students to achieve. We create work that results in high level of achievement. We are prepared to work collaboratively with colleagues, students and parents to achieve this shared educational purpose.

The second Building Block: Vision
What do we hope to become?

Vision should present a realistic, credible, attractive future for the organization.

5 scenarios of implementing a vision:

Although not the most efficent way, co-creating is the most likely to result in a shared vision.
Which level? District needs to be guiding the schools.
All stakeholders should be engaged.
How long? Some say once it’s done, it’s done. Some say that it should be done annually. These authors suggest a 5-7 year cycle.

Motivates & Energizes people
Proactive orientation
Gives direction to people within the organization
Establishes specific standards of excellence
Sets a clear agenda for action

Everyone must be ready to wrestle with 2 important questions:
What is it that we expect all students to learn?
How will we respond when they do not learn?

What are your thoughts?