Our district recently released a new Mission Statement:
"We engage and encourage students and staff every day through meaningful work in a safe and caring environment."
Excellent! The group that came up with this spent a great deal of time on it. Literally every word was recommended, discussed, debated, and agreed upon before inclusion. This end-product of a deliberate process of defining as succinctly as possible the mission of our district is perhaps as focused and on-target as any I've seen.
I like that it is verb-driven.
I appreciate the key words: ENGAGE, ENCOURAGE, MEANINGFUL, SAFE, and CARING.
I love that it avoids cliches like "reaching one's potential" or "creating contributing members of society".
Everything I have stated so far is exactly why I am going to recommend to my staff that we adopt and implement it as is, at all levels, without blurring the mission by layering others on top of it. One of the initiatives we implement in our district is the Continuous Improvement Process (CIP). In fact, CIP will be the focus of this year's professional staff development on my campus. Unfortunately, one of the components in the process is for each campus and classroom to write its own individual mission statement.
While I understand the reason writing individual statements is included in the process, I believe it runs counter to what we should do in order to embrace and infuse the district's mission statement throughout the system. Why should each campus and classroom spend time trying to identify and create an individualized mission when we have already been provided with an excellent, all-encompassing, all-inclusive statement? We run the risk of muddying the ultimate district mission if every campus and classroom has some type of side-mission. In the case of some high school students, they could spend each day within an environment of nine separate mission statements: one for each of seven periods, one for their campus, and one for the district.
I plan to proceed by spending time with the staff discussing the new mission district mission statement in depth. We will discuss how it was developed, the key philosophies and beliefs behind it, and how it applies to this campus. As we study and implement the continuous improvement process I will be recommending one in-house modification to the training. Rather than each class or program developing its own mission statement, I will ask that - instead - they develop two to three MISSION SUPPORT INITIATIVES.
Each class and program will be encouraged to develop and post two to three practices or procedures that can be implemented within that classroom which materially supports and addresses the overall mission statement. Ideally, these MISSION SUPPORT INITIATIVES will be observable/measurable practices (goals?) that can be followed within individual classrooms and which directly influence and affect the ultimate outcome of meeting The Mission Statement.
What are some types of Mission Support Initiatives will I be looking for? The range is huge. But a couple of examples targeted on key terms might include:
Engagement: "In Chemistry A every student will come prepared and actively participate in the day's labs."
Encouragement: "Our Algebra class agrees that we will help mentor and assist each other collaboratively until everyone understands the concepts being taught."
Meaningful: "This History class will be committed to open discussion and exploration of each lesson's importance and relevance to the individual learner."
This will be a work-in-progress with the entire staff. The ultimate goal will be buy-in and infusion of the Mission Statement into every classroom. There will be no mixing of missions, but rather, an attempt to build ownership of the one over-riding mission of the district: