Saturday, August 20, 2016

Let's Talk Mission & Vision

For each of my five years as the principal of Union Middle School, I've tried to have a unique start to the school year for our teaching staff. During my first year, I did a three year road map for our school to give our staff a sense of where I envisioned we were headed. Last fall, we worked solely on team building exercises with an instructional leadership theme for the year. I tailor each beginning as not only a precursor for what the year will bring, but specifically selected based on where I believe the staff stands as educators and as a school community.

During my first year, as is the case for any new principal, a majority of the staff was waiting to see where I would help steer the school. Providing the road map on day one gave our teachers a chance to have the school wide action plan shared as a group and at the very beginning of the school year. Last year, the school culture was becoming an issue; we needed to learn how to work, play, and belong together again. Both school years had activities, committees, and events that encompassed the themes from the first day. 

This year was no different. 

This year we are revisiting our mission and vision as a school community. To begin on day one, I shared my own personal mission and vision with the staff. Truthfully, I was a bit nervous about speaking in front of the staff. Much like many educators I know, it's really easy to talk in front of our students, but speaking to our colleagues is significantly more challenging. I also spent a good part of the summer reworking my mission and vision in my head and in my slides. I wanted to find the right words for each part of the presentation. Perfectionism became a small issue along the wall. Eventually, as is the case with most projects, you just have to let go a bit and move on to the next part of the presentation. 

I chose to make our school mission and vision the focus point of our school year because I believe that we are ready to take the leap forward as @teamUMS educators. Finally, for the first time in my previous six years at Union Middle, we have the right people in the right places with the best intentions to best serve our students. Over the past five years, I've made a point of hiring a certain type of staff member: talented, nice-to-kids, good-for-our-school-community individuals. You can look at Margaret and Nora in the front office as perfect examples of these qualities. My goal is to create a staff that puts kids first, that gets along with one another, and enjoys working together. We work with 12 year olds - it's ok to be silly and have fun! Couple these educators with a hard working, talented group of veteran staff members and we're now at the point where common expectations and shared goals should be a part of our daily routine. 

My presentation began with a quick review about what a school mission and vision entails. Next, I shared some personal notes about the story of building my family and then various elements of our #teamUMS staff that correlate to my own values as an educator. After giving our staff a few moments to write down their own mission and vision, I shared mine. Here it is:

My Vision:

As the UMS Principal, I want to:
  • Provide our students with a safe, nurturing learning environment with every opportunity to experience academic, social and emotional growth; a place where they are treated with compassion, and are given opportunities to develop tolerance and respect for our individual, unique differences. I want our students to grow, to learn kindness, and to be cared for.
  • Ensure our #teamUMS staff feels supported by their administrative team and their colleagues, beloved by the school community for their dedication to their craft, and have opportunities for their professional growth in their own academic journey; I want our staff to grow, to practice kindness, and to know they’re cared for.
  • Hire the very best staff members to join our talented #teamUMS family; individuals who believe in kids and who want to be a part of a positive learning community. I want our new and future colleagues to be individuals who practice kindness, who want to grow as an educator, and who can add positivity to our school community.
  • Communicate with our parent and school community, to be open to feedback and to work together to best support Union Middle; I want the adults in our community to be involved in the growth of our students, to treat our staff with kindness, and to know we work extremely hard for their children.
My Mission:

As the UMS Principal, I want to:
  • Ensure that Union Middle School is devoted to doing what’s best for our students, giving teachers the time, tools, and resources they need to grow in their respective disciplines, and work with our school communities toward maintaining a safe, nurturing environment where all #teamUMS members have the opportunity to create, learn, explore, build, rebuild, and grow.
And now, as a staff, our next steps will be to create a mission and vision for our staff, our students, and our school community. We've set aside time to work on this lofty yet essential goal during the school year. I'm excited to see our next steps. 

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