A school mission statement that expresses the purpose, values and vision of a school in a few compelling words can have a powerful impact on the school change process. In order to remain relevant and meaningful to the school community, the mission should be developed through an inclusive process in which all constituencies have a voice. The mission process itself is as important as the final product in that it serves as a way for the community to crystallize the the school’s central purpose. But in order for the mission to become meaningful to a community, it must first be firmly rooted in the culture of the school. Therefor it must be nurtured and attended to as a living statement reflecting the purpose and aspirations of the school community. Over the past few years our school mission has taken root and is beginning to flourish in many areas, such as in curriculum (authentic global education), pedagogy (engaging diverse learners) and values (acting with compassion, respect, integrity and intercultural understanding).
As part of our strategic plan, we at the International School of Prague are developing a Professional Learning Community (PLC) environment in which teachers and other community members can advance real school change. To prepare for the opening faculty orientation workshop, teachers were asked to choose a resource associated with one of four strategic theme. The intention was to provide teachers with challenging and compelling ideas to consider, discuss and work with. Below are the four strategic themes and resources (with links) used in this workshop:
- 21st Century Schools
- 21st Century Skills
- Authentic Learning/Inquiry in Practice
During the workshop, each faculty group identified “big ideas” based on guiding questions:
- What are the implications to our practice?
- What are potential implications to the school?
- What are the barriers to innovation at ISP?
- What are our next steps?
We view this as a first step in the process of forming “focus groups” or “action research” groups, who will eventually advance ways for the school to improve and innovate.
In order to escape the fate of becoming curious artifacts of 20th century education, schools around the world are addressing the sometimes daunting challenge of profound systemic change. While a revolution in how schools function in the twenty first century is inevitable, dare I use the tag line from the new movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes, “Evolution becomes Revolution.” The challenge of school change is to create a path which honors the current structures while simultaneously and profoundly changing them. But I’ll leave that to another installment.