Friday, February 28, 2014

Missions or Motions?

I was having a great chat with a couple of friends from my PLN this past week.  The discussion was centered around finding resources and ideas to begin building a vision. Matt Wachel, a great thinker offered up this question.

Steven Weber then fired back the following at the end of the discussion. 

Steven is a really deep thinker about school improvement and leadership. (You should follow him.) But while Steven's tweet was purely in jest, it made me think...

Do schools have Missions or do they go through the Motions? 

As much as I want to claim my ultimate belief in the power of missions, it doesn't mean that my school's mission is living in every facet of the organization.  Here's what I'm trying to say.  Does every member of every team truly believe in their school's mission statement, or do they go through the motions of simply reciting the mission like it was the Pledge of Allegiance?  If all we do is make a mission, stick it on the wall, say the words every now and then, can we really say we have a mission?  

So the question I pose to all leaders (teachers, you are leaders) is this.  

How do we know if our mission is moving every person forward?

Here are two scenarios to answer that question. 

Schools that go through the motions of having a mission do the following:

  • They have a mission on the wall.
  • They have PLC time built into the schedule. 
  • They may even like one another,

  • Teams engage in activities that are not aligned to or conflict with the mission. 
  • The mission is ignored or worse only referred to in name only. 

In other words these schools go through the motions of being a PLC, but they really don't focus on working together to guarantee learning for all members of the school community (staff and students). 

Now, schools that live out their mission do the following:

  • They go beyond plastering words all over the school and actually refer to their mission to help them make decisions. 
  • They create values that help them define the behaviors that must be exhibited to fulfill the mission. 
  • They confront behaviors and beliefs that conflict with the mission. 
  • They believe professional conflict is essential to fulfill the mission. 
  • They refer to the mission when making critical decisions that will move the campus forward. 

Missions or Motions?

So which applies to you?  Do your school have a mission that is living and breathing, or is your school going through the motions pretending that the mission is real?  Do you have a little bit of both? Sure, it is very possible to have a mission in action in some places while other parts of the organization are going through the motions. Leaders must identify where the motions are in place and find ways to convert motion into mission. 

All schools are in motion, but the most successful schools are in meaningful motion, and that is what it takes to make a mission move a school. 

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