On Monday morning, about nine hundred seventh and eighth graders will come streaming through the gates at Willis Junior High. For the past several days, our faculty has had the opportunity to plan together and discuss our vision for the future of Willis.
As a new principal, I began the week with a presentation (Prezi) to introduce our staff to our theme for the year – Learning and Leading with PRIDE. While I threw a lot of ideas out for consideration, the emphasis was on three questions for reflective educating–questions to guide every action and activity on our campus.
- What is the purpose?
- Is it a good use of time and resources?
- Is it in the best interest of students?
Later in the week we began the process of developing a mission statement that would be meaningful and express the core values of our school. A great deal of time was spent considering the best way to work with our mission and vision statements. I turned to my PLN for help and received valuable advice from George Couros (@gcouros – a great Twitter follow for all educators) who suggested narrowing our focus to a short and easy to remember motto. George provided the following examples:
- Think, Lead, Serve (Van Meter, Iowa Schools)
- Collaborate, Create, Learn (George’s suggestion for Parkland)
Working off of this idea, our assistant principal discovered this great video of Guy Kawasaki speaking about mantras.
In preparing for our staff discussion we also found the, Creating Program Transformation Through a Mantra, extremely valuable. Page eight of the article provided a great activity for encouraging our staff to reflect on our core values as a school and identify key terms that exemplify what we want for the Willis learning community. After a lot of hard work and spirited discussion we arrived at the following terms:
EMPOWER, ACHIEVE, LEAD
I was very pleased with the discussion that took place in arriving at this mantra. It was good to see the staff actively engaged in the process of envisioning a positive future for our school and I hope that they found the activity challenging, but beneficial. I can honestly say that I was a bit nervous about where this activity might lead us. While the mantra that the staff developed might not have been exactly what I would have chosen, I believe the logic that was used to arrive at those terms was sound and student centered–which was my only “non-negotiable” guideline. I also believe the staff felt ownership in this process and will be passionate about putting these words into action.
The first week was much more challenging than I envisioned and I find myself exhausted before the kids even arrive. A little rest and recuperation this weekend and then on Monday…onward and upward. Empowering, achieving and leading!