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Mission Impossible, No Way!

direction

Before schools can even begin the continuous improvement process, they have to establish direction for all stakeholders. Creating a mission is the first step. The mission statement is a sign of the school’s integrity. Effective schools embrace clearly defined missions shared by all members of the staff.

A shared mission is one in which everyone understands the direction the school is moving (Lezotte, 1991). High-performing schools infuse an achievement based mission statement throughout all aspects of the school (Slade, Jones, Wiesman, Alexander, & Saenz, 2008). Specifically, these statements address concepts such as challenge, academic success, and citizenship. For example, an academically focused mission may state that the school will focus on providing outstanding instruction in a challenging environment.

A strong mission focuses on specific results and includes definitive benchmarks (Slade et al., 2008). In addition, the mission statement should not include exact criteria for measuring success but instead provide a framework in which stakeholders can produce results. A strong mission should address goals, priorities, procedures for assessment, and accountability measures (Lezotte, 1991).

My school’s mission is “All students can learn. All means all. No excuses.” What is your school’s mission?  Do you feel the staff knows and focuses instruction toward that mission?

—-Stephanie Scott  http://effectivek12schools.com—-

 References

Lezotte, L. (1991). Revolutionary and evolutionary: The effective schools movement. Okemos, MI: Effective Schools Products. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/edutopia.org-closing-achievement-gap-lezotte-article.pdf

Slade, J., Jones, C., Wiesman, K., Alexander, J., & Saenz, T. (2008). School mission statements and school performance: A mixed research investigation. New Horizons in Education, 56(2), 17-27. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ832903.pdf

The Value of Collaboration

meeting plc clipProfessional Learning Communities (PLCs) and collaboration are buzzwords that are actually worthy of discussion. Creating a collaborative culture provides an opportunity for districts to facilitate discussion within a school and between schools through articulation. “When teachers have many opportunities to collaborate, their energy, creative thinking, efficiency, and goodwill increase—and the cynicism and defensiveness that hamper change decrease” (Kohm & Nance, 2009, p. 68).

PLCs empower teachers to identify issues to improve their practice, as well as promote mutual learning and valuable discussion. Through the process of discussion with colleagues, teachers experience the value of the shared vision(Levine & Marcus, 2007). The members of the PLC apply strategies and best practices flexibly in their own classrooms and schools and report the results to the other members.

By working together, teachers save time reinventing the wheel and instead agree upon effective lessons and assessments proven to be valuable. Departments and administrators are able to easily identify which standards show mastery, and which standards require further instruction. PLCs present a forum free from judgement in which colleagues can discuss their own areas of weakness and strength and share best practices.

In my own experience, a PLC is helpful when teachers don’t feel they are being scrutinized. When the district and school empower the PLCs to generate their own goals and plan, there is more buy-in.

If  you have been part of a PLC, what do you feel is the most valuable piece to the collaboration? In what areas does your PLC struggle?

—-Stephanie Scott  http://effectivek12schools.com—-

References

 Kohm, B. & Nance, B. (2009). Creating collaborative cultures. Educational Leadership, 67(2), 67-72. Retrieved from the Academic Complete Research database.

Levine, T. & Marcus, A. (2007). Closing the achievement gap through teacher collaboration: Facilitating multiple trajectories of teacher learning. Journal of Advanced Academics, 19(1), 116-138. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ786607.pdf