The following tip, which focuses on building teamwork within your schools' Professional Learning Communities, has been adapted from Building School Culture One Week at a Time by Jeffrey Zoul.
Effective teams are a hallmark of effective schools. To create and maintain high-performing teams, all members of the team must share and adhere to similar commitments, or values. They must set commonly agreed upon goals, and hold each other accountable for attaining them.
Take a moment and watch this clip. It only takes 3 minutes and will inspire you!
How can this video be applied to your professional learning community (PLC)? Experts identify four foundations of a PLC: Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals. In a nutshell, a Mission is a statement of purpose: Why do we exist? A Vision is a glimpse toward our future: What do we want to become? Values are the commitments to which we agree and that will help us accomplish our mission: How will we behave so that we can realize our vision? Finally, Goals are the targets and timelines we establish regularly to ensure we are moving toward our dream: How will we regularly mark our progress? (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Many, 2006).
For those of you who have been around awhile, mission statements and vision statements may seem like tiresome, irrelevant practices. We have seen them created before with great fanfare only to be quickly forgotten. However, if agreed upon by consensus, communicated regularly, and enforced consistently, these statements are indispensable to achieving optimal levels of performance for all within a learning organization.
Consider the four cornerstones of PLCs: mission, vision, values, and goals. Consider these not only from a school wide perspective, but also from a personal perspective. Take a moment to reflect on your purpose for being at your school or district and get your staff thinking about the same questions. What is your foremost role as an educator? What would you like to be known for as a school or district leader? How must you act in order to succeed? What are your short-term targets?
When a large team of committed professionals individually establish clearly defined statements of mission, vision, values, and goals and collectively agree to a few overarching ones as an entire staff, the possibilities for student, teacher, and school success are unlimited. Although we may not literally soar through the upper altitudes like the Blue Angels in the video, we will assuredly achieve new heights each and every year.