Many schools address their mission and vision statements on an annual or biannual basis. The process is worthwhile as it provides clarity and direction for teachers, support personnel, and administrators. It is the process itself that is often most beneficial. Mission and vision statements that are developed collaboratively foster common beliefs, goals, and actions.
There is, however, one potential step that might add value to the process of developing a mission and vision statement. Prior to initiating the mission and vision process, schools should consider developing a staff manifesto- a public declaration that describes the goals of a group. A staff manifesto is an agreement on how the adults in the building will treat each other. It outlines the expectations colleagues have for each other and sets the bar on how professionalism is defined. Here is an example of a working staff manifesto:
- We are caring individuals from diverse backgrounds with unique talents and knowledge who work collaboratively to provide a quality education to all students.
- We are AWESOME!!!
- We will respect each other’s individuality.
- We will support each other in a professional, collaborative manner.
- We bring our own talents and beliefs to work for the success of all parties.
- We interact respectfully and professionally with the students, staff, and community.
- We expect our leaders to include us in making meaningful decisions.
- Our leadership will ignite the fire that burns in the engine of our well-oiled teaching machine.
- We hope to be caring and compassionate about our students in order to inspire and motivate students to become lifelong learners.
- We hope to be more connected to all staff members by having opportunities to interact throughout the school year.
This example illustrates how the adults will work together in a building. As a collaborative product, it lays the groundwork for any mission or vision statement that might follow it. Before determining what a school can do for its students, it must decide how it will operate as an organization. Once the manifesto is developed, it should be displayed in areas where the staff will see it daily (staff lounge, restrooms, meeting rooms etc.). It then serves as the foundation for writing a meaningful mission and vision statement.
Re-imagine it this way: Manifesto first, Vision next, then Mission.