School self-review and strategic planning are particular interests of mine so I really enjoyed listening to a session with James Nottingham - Innovative Leadership - lessons from around the world. James highlighted the purpose of creating and having and a clear vision, that is shared, owned and implemented by the people who create it. He referred to the following diagram - emphasizing the importance of always starting with the vision, not the event.
Adapted from Organising for Learning by Daniel Kim, 2010
When leaders work with their communities to identify and develop a vision they undertake a process of clarifying 'educative purpose, values and core beliefs about learning.' Part of this process provides an opportunity to unpack and understand individual mental models. This is a critical phase - as only through this phase can we gain an understanding of others perspectives. Using this process to develop shared understandings and beliefs promotes ownership and commitment towards achievement of the vision.
Vision provides a goal, a focus and direction for future school growth and development and it is our job to turn the vision into reality. I have continued to reflect on James's presentation. As a school leader I would be asking the following questions:
- Can all members of our school community clearly articulate our vision?
- Is this shared, owned and enacted by all?
- Is our vision a constant point of reference to guide our development and decision making?
- Is it consistently referenced and used to promote learning?
- Is it visible?
In my opinion the sign of a good conference is when you leave with more questions, thoughts and wonderings than when you arrived. The opportunity to think, reflect, challenge, question, discuss, consider is invaluable, but as Sir Graham Henry so aptly reminded us, "It is not about the game.... it is all about the people."