Learning Landscapes

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

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Have you seen the posters all over our campus with our brand new mission and core values on them? Every classroom has its own poster and several larger ones are hung up throughout our campus. We recently translated these into Spanish and you will soon see the Spanish version in posters too. Why post our mission and core values everywhere?

Our mission and core values are the foundational documents that guide everything we do at our school, everything that we are about. I like to think of them as the promise that we hold up for our community, statements that represent our most sincere intentions, earnest goals for which we will continually strive. And because they are so important, we want everyone to know about them – that is why they are posted everywhere.

As many of you know, last school year we involved the community in a strategic planning process, which began by soliciting feedback about our strengths and areas for growth, looking at possible opportunities and potential risks within our setting and engaging in many discussions about goals for our future. This information was collected and analyzed, and then a group of parents, Board members, teachers, support staff, and administrators came together to ponder this information and then craft a new mission statement that would guide our way forward for the next chapter in the life of this school. We struggled together to write new core value statements that would hold us to a higher standard, as individuals, as members of a community and as global citizens. Far more than individual words can, our core value statements capture complex concepts and philosophical beliefs about what we value most.

Have a look at our mission:

We are an English language-based international learning community that values diversity, embraces a culture of collaboration, innovation, and excellence, and inspires empathetic and ethical student leaders. 

I believe that words can be powerful! See this video link that illustrates the power of the right words.

The words in our mission statement capture multifaceted, valuable, extraordinary concepts! And because they describe a state that we have not yet achieved as a school, our mission is inspiring, powerful, and ambitious!

Now, we all know that a mission written on a poster is not going to come alive unless it is truly embraced by our community. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of “The Little Prince” wrote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”  Yes, we do have a plan to transform our school over the next five years, a plan to live our mission and be driven by our mission. Every member of our community – students, teachers, parents, office staff, guards, cafeteria workers, maintenance men, assistants, administrators – everyone has a role to play in making this mission come true. We need your help.

So: I have two questions for you:

1. What aspect of this mission appeals to you and why?

2. What can you do to make this mission come alive for our community? 

Please write me back in this blog – I am eager to hear from you!

Warm regards,

Madeleine

5 thoughts on “A goal without a plan is just a wish.

  1. I really like the concept of being a learning community. In some way, this implies to be always learning, innovating, looking forward for positive growth. It is not a linear way in which students learn from teachers or caregivers, it is about a community that exchanges experiences, knowledge, insights, ideas and creativity. The word community implies that we care for people. It is about diverse people getting to know each other and communicating in order to learn, grow and be the best version of ourselves. How to do it?… I am sure we will learn during the process. Even though, it will be helpful to be clear about the goal, the plan and align every step to it, Collaboration and communication would be the tools for every stage.

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    • I like what you say about a learning community. I think our goal is to build a culture that acknowledges and promotes that learning isn’t a one way transmission model from teacher to student. In fact, learning is enriched by all the members of the community, starting in the classroom, but not ending there. I learn so much about teaching from my students and other teachers. If I’m open to listening to others carefully my teaching will improve.

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  2. Hi Madeleine,
    The part of the mission statement that I especially like is this: “learning community that values diversity, embraces a culture of collaboration, innovation, and excellence, and inspires empathetic and ethical student leaders”. Is that most of it? I guess so but I couldn’t narrow it down further than that. I believe a “learning community” is critical to students and teachers. Community is the backbone of what motivates people to do their best and help others in the process. Diversity is what makes International schools so appealing and important in a rapidly shrinking world where everyone and everything is accessible at the click of a button. A learning community must find ways to collaborate and innovate to survive and thrive. Collaboration nurtures connections and humans thrive on those contacts that nurture and extend our learning and our humanity. Since, as a school, we are all about students, and we are living in an increasingly connected world, then empathy and leadership are key to making our world a more just, collaborative, fulfilling and happy place for all. And that is the ethical thing to do.

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  3. COLLABORATION – without that foundation – the rest will be a struggle to achieve. Collaboration was the key to the development of the mission statement and core values and I am still grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in that!

    I would like to share that our model for collaboration in Peterborough Victoria Northumberland Clarington Catholic District School Board (PVNC, for short), where I am currently a Student Achievement Consultant in the Learning Support Services department, takes the form of collaborative inquiry at the school level. Our Board (=district in US terms) improvement plan for student achievement and well-being includes the following theory of action.

    If all educators support the needs of all learners by:
    developing a growth mindset
    participating in collaborative practices
    embedding inquiry-based experiences
    implementing effective, evidence-based instructional and assessment strategies
    then all students will be able to demonstrate their ability to think critically and communicate their learning.

    I know it is a mouthful, but this is the board level and it is meant so that all schools (37 of them, elementary and secondary) can see themselves in there somewhere and create their own school improvement plans that are aligned with that but is specific to the school’s needs, based on their own data and circumstances.

    Through school-based collaborative inquiries we are looking at student work to attempt to get what we as educators need to do to move that student learning forward in the continuum of learning, whether it is math or language arts or french, etc.

    “Know thy impact.” The work of John Hattie is very powerful and should make us all stop and reflect on what we are doing in classrooms and schools. It definitely strikes a chord with me.

    I miss you all…
    I have again been blessed to land on my feet in a position where I can continue to be a lead learner, working collaboratively with fellow educators to continually look at student learning and how to make that even better.
    Abrazos!
    Sherry

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