If you are an administrator, the latter part of June is an ideal time for reflection and future planning. Immediate day-to-day pressures cease and unless you are in a modified year or year round schedule situation, the pressures to start back up feel down the road. Still fresh in your mind are the things that worked well or didn’t from the past year. Recent hires you made help to make you hopeful about moving in some new directions.
It is the best time of the year to think in a 3 year block – looking back at what the data says about past performance around your mission, thinking about how to implement in a few months your plans that were hopefully formed 6-12 months ago, and creating a vision for the next 2-4 years so that you can begin to prepare the ground and start to plant seeds. So, what are the teaching/learning categories/areas you should be thinking about in this 3-year planning block? What are the questions you should be contemplating? What might be some strategies to implement?
Let me suggest these essential questions:
- How do you know you achieved, and how will you continue to achieve, your mission?
- How will you develop leadership at all levels – students, teachers, staff?
- How will you ensure mission distinctiveness?
Let me suggest these guiding principles/qualities:
- Mission focus in all areas of school life
- Honoring image-bearers
- Joy/worship/service as the goal of learning
Plan: How will your plan for the future do the following?
- Develop Leaders (teachers and students)
- Have you put processes in place that help students and teachers self assess and reflect on their own growth?
- Are you using tools to help students and teachers understand their talents/strengths and understand how they fit together as a team?
- Are collaborative structures/processes in place so reflection can happen regularly?
- Encourage Passionate Learning
- What is your past performance data telling you? Have you developed a set of key indicators to look at with your leadership team?
- Do you currently collect any student engagement data? As a school are you increasing student passion for learning?
- Does your data support a) evidence of student mastery, b) evidence of faith formation/character development, and c) high quality work?
- Ensure Mission Distinctiveness
- Have you mapped your curriculum in ways that demonstrate biblical integration and clarity around big ideas/lifetime take-aways?
- Do your teacher assessments require students to demonstrate understanding of the mission of the school?
- Do your teacher classroom practices reflect best thinking in both research based pedagogical practice and encouragement of student faith formation?
- Do your teachers implement practices that increase student ownership of learning?
- Are your classrooms and school discipline practices restorative or punitive?
- Are you building a culture of joy in learning, respect for diverse gifts of each member of the body, and ultimately a worshipping community of learners?
In a future blog post I will be sharing ideas of what schools are doing in response to these questions. You are invited to the second of a three part summer webinar series with Steven Levy and myself on Tuesday, June 21 @ 11am Eastern entitled “Looking Back, Looking Forward” to further discuss these questions and to hear what others are doing in these areas. Please RSVP to Jody Rozenboom by Wednesday, June 15 and a link to join the webinar will be sent to you.
Dan Beerens is an educational consultant, author, international speaker, and educational leader. Before starting Dan Beerens Consulting in May 2010, he served as Vice President of Learning Services and Director of Instructional Improvement at Christian Schools International. Prior to that, he was the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Holland Christian Schools. Dan has also worked as teacher and principal in urban and suburban public and Christian schools in Wisconsin and Illinois. He serves as a Senior Fellow at CACE (Center for the Advancement of Christian Education), represents Curriculum Trak sales and professional development and serves as co-chair of the annual Christian Deeper Learning conference. He blogs regularly for CACE and is the author of Evaluating Teachers for Professional Growth: Creating a Culture of Motivation and Learning (Corwin Press) and co-editor of the recent book MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education (ACSI).