Clear and Shared Vision for Your School

Clear and Shared Vision

Everybody knows where they are going and why

This topic, “Clear and Shared Vision” came out as one of the Key Highlights shared in the 2018 Conference Series for School Leaders across regions of West, South and Central India on the topic, “What are the Characteristics of High Performing Institutions”.
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"If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there."—George Harrison

When 1,500 executives were surveyed, 98 percent of the executives listed “a strong sense of vision” first in their list of most important characteristics of effective strategic leaders (Edwards, 2014).
In a 2010 report by McKinsey & Co. that examined a number of educational systems across the world to see what factors led to improvement, it was found that ‘almost all school leaders say that setting vision and direction’ are among ‘the biggest contributors to their success’. Research into successful schools shows that their leaders have a clear vision for what they want their school to achieve (The Open University, n.d.).
But, it seems to be the case that in India, many schools rarely visualise or articulate their own vision. Hence, they will not be able to actualise their full potential.
But, what is vision anyway?

What is a Clear and Shared Vision

British-American author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek defines vision as “a destination – a fixed point to which we focus all effort.” (Thompson, 2017)
Bain & Company says this on its website: “A Vision Statement describes the desired future position of the company.” (Bain & Company, 2018)
A ‘vision’ is a clear statement of what the school is trying to achieve so that all stakeholders – teachers, students, their families, and community members – are working together (The Open University, n.d.).
The vision should be well-formulated and actionable by being clear about what you hope to achieve. The clearer your vision is, the easier it will be to rally your team to work towards it. A clear vision will also help your people to determine their own departmental objectives and to collaborate with others. Without clarity, your team will become unproductive and inefficient. With a clear destination, they can be focused and inspired (Thompson, 2017).

Your constituents want visions of the future that reflect their own aspirations. That is, the vision should be shared. By creating a shared vision, you define the problem and solution more clearly for the group. Once your stakeholders see that their own interests and aspirations align with the vision, they will wholeheartedly commit to making it happen (Shelton, n.d.).

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Developing a Clear and Shared Vision for Your School

As a school leader, you have the responsibility of creating a vision for your school. That vision should fit the school’s particular context, as well as the needs and aspirations of all the stakeholders of the school, and spelled out in clear terms (The Open University, n.d.).

Table 1: Some Examples of Vision Statements

School Vision Statement
Lahsuniya School
‘Families and school work together to support children’s learning’
Neelam School
‘Every child in this school is encouraged to develop their full potential in a stimulating and caring environment’
Panna School
‘To ensure 100% success in end-of-school examinations’
Moonga School
‘Our vision is to provide a happy, caring and stimulating environment where children learn to make their best contribution to society’
Mukta School
‘To meet the needs of all its pupils’
Manik School
‘Our school is a place of excellence where children can achieve their full potential’
Gomedha School
‘To be the best school in the district’
Pukhraj School
‘To ensure that all students have the chance to go to university’
Aakash School
‘Every teacher strives for the best for every single child’
Heera School
‘We believe that every child is entitled to enjoy his/her childhood. They should be valued for their individuality, culture and heritage’

Source: (The Open University, n.d.)

A good starting point in the process of establishing a vision for your school is examining your own values and beliefs and the values embodied in the National Curricular Framework (NCF) 2005 and the Right to Education Act (RtE) 2009. As a school leader in India in the twenty-first century, your role is to translate the aspirations of the NCF 2005 and RtE 2009 into practice in your school (The Open University, n.d.).
The key stakeholders around the school and its community will include the SMC, the teachers, the students, the parents and families of the students, community leaders, including local businesses. If stakeholders are to support the school’s development, they need to be involved in understanding and developing the school’s vision (The Open University, n.d.).
Here are a few steps you can take to find out the aspirations and opinions of all the stakeholders of your school and then formulate and communicate the vision for the school so that everyone knows where they are going and why:

  • Hold meetings with management committee (SMC) where you share your vision for the school and elicit their opinions and suggestions for refinement.
  • Hold meetings with your staff and spell out your vision. Also, ask for their inputs and question them as to ‘What are you proud of and what could we do better?’
  • Elicit views and concerns of students, staff, and parents by walking around school and talking to them, and to parents when they came to school.
  • Hold a joint meeting of a few senior members of the staff and the SMC, and ask them to write down three ‘values’ – principles that they feel should inform and guide the work of the school. Make a list and hold another meeting to ask them to devise a vision statement based on the ‘values’ agreed upon.
  • Elicit the opinions of students’ families. Listen to their concerns.
  • Call the local community members for discussions and get them to buy into your vision, alongside seeking their opinions on the matter.

With the above steps taken, you will be in the best position to finally spell out your vision for the school that reflects the inputs of all stakeholders.

The purpose of the vision is to help school leaders to prioritise and identify the actions that should be included in their planning. Having a clear, agreed vision will always provide a reference point. If people disagree about which actions are most urgent, they can be discussed in the context of the vision, and priorities will emerge. Once a set of actions has been identified, it is the responsibility of the school leadership team to monitor those actions and ensure that they lead to school improvements (The Open University, n.d.).

More articles in this series of “Getting the Fundamentals Right” will focus on the other key points highlighted by the School Leaders in the Annual Conference Series 2018.

Call to Action

Butterfly Fields is in close touch and partnership with hundreds of schools for over a decade. So, as such, we understand the strengths, weaknesses, and problems faced by various kinds of schools in different locales. Hence, we could help you immensely in guiding you in the development of a clear and shared vision.

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