Monday, August 8, 2016

The what, the how and the why: unpacking our mission statement

We are about to have our first day with students tomorrow.  Up to now we have had teacher orientation and just like we do at the start of every year we begin with looking again at our mission statement.

This year we started with Simon Sinek's concept of the  "Golden Circle" - the why, how and what of what we do.  This explains why some organizations and leaders are able to inspire and why others are not.  Let's start with the what.

The What
We looked at this video, We Have A Responsiblity to Awe.

After this we talked in groups about whether we do this as a school - how, where, when and who we awe.  How we are doing at inspiring our students - are we exceeding their expectations, meeting them or failing to meet them?  We decided for us that The What is our school's mission statement.
We inspire all of our students to continuous inquiry, empowering them with the skills, courage, optimism, and integrity to pursue their dreams and enhance the lives of others.
The How
Unpacking our mission statement brought us to the how.  Basically this is contained in the words "skills, courage, optimism and integrity".   When this mission statement was written 15 years ago we did not define what the skills are - indeed they are changing to meet the needs of the students.  We felt that it was quite visionary to use these words - in particular that in today's world students would need courage and optimism.  We watched the following video of a Rube Goldberg machine that was designed by Audri, a 7 year old who made a monster trap.

The Why
We are back to the mission statement again, the final part being at the heart of our why.  This is the pursuit of dreams and enhancing the lives of others.  We talked about how some people pursue their dreams, but the downside is that they leave a very choppy wake for others.  In our mission statement the purpose is to enhance others' lives, not to pursue our dreams at their expense.

Wired for Struggle
At our elementary faculty meeting this morning we watched a snippet of another video, a TED talk by BrenĂ© Brown about the power of vulnerability.  Here's the bit we talked about - how we will support our students' struggles:
And we perfect, most dangerously, our children. Let me tell you what we think about children. They're hardwired for struggle when they get here. And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand,our job is not to say, "Look at her, she's perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect -- make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh." That's not our job. Our job is to look and say,"You know what? You're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging." That's our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we'll end the problems, I think, that we see today. 
So tomorrow I start my 5th year at ASB.   Here's hoping that it will be the best year yet!

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