Sunday, March 6, 2011

More on Developing a Vision

'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.

'I don't much care where —' said Alice.

'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Delta Secondary School and the Delta School District are the process of developing a bold and inspiring vision of the future. Through our conversations, it is clear that our community cares deeply about where we are going as a school and as a school district. And while we are a school with a history of success and high degree of satisfaction among students, parents, and staff, we cannot be content to stand still in a time of rapid technological, societal, and global change. Our vision, our purpose, and our core values must provide our school community with a compass and passion for the meeting the challenge of educating students in the 21st century and preparing them for a purposeful and fulfilling life beyond.

I encourage you to read Aaron Akune’s post, Visioning: the Value of Process summarizing our February 7th Visioning Session at DSS. Our group will reconvene for the next step in the process on March 7th. The DE School Visioning Team will submit a summary to the District Visioning Committee during the week before Spring Break. This summary will be available for comment and feedback shortly thereafter.

In the lead up to tomorrow’s session, we have gathered perspectives on two questions which we believe will assist us in developing statements of noble purpose and a bold vision.

What are the qualities we want for our students at DSS to have developed by the time they graduate/complete school?  What must we be in order to foster these qualities in our students, now and in the future?

The responses to these questions have been summarized and are represented in the two word clusters:

What are the qualities we hope for our students to have developed by the time they graduate from DSS?
What must we be in order to foster these qualities in our students now,  and in the future?

As we move towards creating a bold vision at DSS, our conversations are touching on several themes.

Change / Adaptability / Flexibility
It is acknowledged that there is need for change and that changes must be geared towards preparing students for the challenges of the future as well as providing them with an education that is both meaningful and engaging in the present. Hence the importance of developing a vision that is dynamic and adaptable to changing conditions and new understandings.  

Modeling and Mentoring
Another burgeoning theme is our role as mentors and models of learning. We must be models of life-long learning, collaboration, risk-taking, resilience and continuous improvement… in other words, how to live.  Seeing ourselves as “lead learners” is a departure from the view of the teacher as the holder and dispenser of knowledge at the front of the room. It is this facilitative approach with less emphasis on content knowledge (which can now be easily accessed through technology) and more emphasis on teaching the skills that will allow students to make sense of, and contribute to making the world a better place. Furthermore, there is a growing sense of urgency that this generation of teachers must be models for tomorrow's teachers who are in our classrooms today.

Passionate and Knowledgeable
Much of our conversation points to the need to be both passionate and knowledgeable about our craft and of our subject matter. We need to continue to build on our capacity as educators. By adopting the habits of life-long learners, we can continue to grow. Through collaboration, we can help each other. Our passion and enthusiasm for teaching matters to our students.

Closing Thoughts
This week I followed an interesting post by Tom Schimmer on the 21st Century “Elevator Answer” Challenge. The comments from the contributors are well worth reading. In closing, I pose a similar challenge to members of our school community. A well-constructed purpose and bold vision of our future will equip all members of our school community with the capacity to meet the challenge.

Imagine that you are attending a conference. As you walk into an elevator, a stranger recognizes from your nametag that you are representing Delta Secondary School and asks, “What is your school all about?” 
With only four floors to tell them about DSS, how would you respond?

1 comment:

  1. Nice post, Terry.

    I am sure you will get many rich answers to the question you have posed from staff, students and parents. There should be some variety in the responses that speak to the wide range of the purpose of schooling. Hopefully, though, some consistency within them that will allow you to apply the ideas to your school's Vision statement.

    Good luck!

    PS-the reviews of your performance in the school play are are a natural!