School change only happens when there is a strong vision at the start. When a school has a clear vision it means the leader has ensured that the school and wider community are working together toward shared goals for the future.
Strategies For Success
Ensure that you have an actionable vision centered on learning and outcomes.
Create the vision for, and with input from, all stakeholders.
Share the vision widely and frequently, and make sure it is understood by all.
Return to the vision to guide decision-making in everything from teaching practices to business processes.
Monitor progress toward the vision using metrics and timelines, and iterate quickly based on what you learn.
- When someone reads your vision, can they clearly picture the intended end state?
- Is your Vision SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-specific).
- Does the vision focus on student learning and outcomes?
- Did members of the community have the opportunity to provide real input into the creation of your vision?
- Does your vision meet the needs of everyone in the community? If not, how can their needs be met?
- Could every teacher in your district clearly tell you what the vision is? Every student? Every parent?
- How frequently is your vision shared and reinforced? When was the last time you used it to introduce or justify an action being taken?
- Do your long-term and short-term plans stem directly from the vision?
- When administrators, teachers and potentially even students are making large decisions, do they discuss how these relate to the vision?
- Do the main elements of your vision have associated metrics to measure progress towards them?
- Do you frequently monitor your metrics and take actions based on them?
- Does your team modify your work toward your vision based on feedback, doing this frequently and not waiting until year-end? (At Google we call this "launch and iterate.")
Featured Vision Resources
Ideas & Tactics
Ideas & Tactics
Set your transformational vision
A successful transformation starts with a strong vision. The planning steps and tools below can help you through the process.
Assemble your Vision team
As soon as you've decided to create or adjust your vision, you'll need to identify the group that will help you. While this is important for all projects, it is particularly crucial for vision work, as the vision is not yours alone to create. If it is to be accepted by the wider community, and support the wider community's goals, then it must be created by the wider community.
However, this means that before you can begin you first need to learn more about your stakeholders. This initial stakeholder analysis is critical— it will form the foundation for future team efforts and it’s essential that you give it the attention it deserves. You will need to consider students, parents, teachers, the school board, local organizations, etc...
Once you understand the stakeholders, you should identify which of them will become part of your team. Given that the list of stakeholders will be large, you will likely want to have different tiers, for example a working group and an advisory group.
This is the first step, but you can and should re-evaluate your groups as you progress.
It is unlikely that you're creating a vision from scratch. Even if it's not formally written down, your vision is implicit in your goals and strategic plan. Even if your vision is written down, you may want to revise it. Before drafting a new vision, you and team should understand as much as you can about the current situation.
a) Understand the existing situation in the school / community.
b) Understand the goals of all stakeholders.
c) Understand what the latest research says.
You will probably need to run a series of events where parents, teachers, students and community members can share their perspectives. The way in which you listen and identify their needs and goals has to be authentic, otherwise the excercise will alienate rather than unite. You should also ensure that this is about gathering input, not promoting your initial ideas. As you conduct this listening exercise, you may realize that your initial stakeholder analysis (and therefore team) is not quite right and should adjust accordingly.
Ideas & Tactics
Draft your Vision
Eventually you have to put pen to paper (or finger to key) and draft the vision.
There are a number of ways to go about this; you may set up a collaborative doc, you may work as a group face to face, or you may choose to draft it yourself given the input you've collected, and then iterate with a wider group. At this stage 100 voices in the room is probably not helpful. Keep whoever is working on the initial draft small, and then open it up to comments.
And remember, as you draft it check that it's actionable, inspiring and focussed on student learning and outcomes.
Communicate your Vision
You have your vision! Now you should share it, and share it widely.
Significant tact and diplomacy is needed at this stage; the vision needs to be shared back with the community in such a way that communicates that it is theirs. One way of doing this is to share the process that you went through so it does not seem like a black box.
The community should also feel like they still have a voice, but at the same time it should be clear that the vision is close to final: you will not meet the needs of everyone.
At the end of this stage, you will know you have been successful if all stakeholders can recite the vision, and are largely happy.
Establish metrics and track
While your Vision is likely high level, you must still create a set of metrics. Without them you will not know how you are progressing and will be acting blindly. Given the Vision's high level nature, you may need to be creative and find proxy measurements.
Unlike a more specific project, you will not need to meet frequently to review progress, however you should still meet with a representative group of stakeholders at regular intervals; semi-annually may work. The progress should then be communicated to the wider community.
Ideas & Tactics
Use your Vision
Now you've created it and shared it, use it!
All of the remaining pillars of the framework (learning, culture, professional development etc.) should be driven by the vision. All major activities should be evaluated to ensure they are contributing towards the vision.
After all, this is the purpose and power of a strong, shared vision.