Monday, January 19, 2015

"All the minds, all the time."



Vision check?  Who has time for another test? 

The Te@chthought Blog Challenge for today is certainly overwhelming my brain:

What actions (micro and macro) do you take that ensure that your school’s vision is woven throughout your daily practice?

I have to admit.  I have no specific mantra to spout when it comes to the vision of my school district.  I can spout the district mission statement:

The mission of the Donegal School District is to "develop each learner as a productive citizen who thoughtfully meets personal, community, and global challenges."

Years ago, I worked as a program coordinator at my church.  At that time, the church was attempting to articulate clear mission and vision statements for the congregation.  After dozens of meetings, the statements were finished, filed with the conference, and published in the newsletter.  Once again, I can recite the mission statement, "Win to Christ, Grow in Faith, Send to Win", without blinking, but really have no memory of the specific wording of the vision statement.

Suffice it to say that an examination of the mission statement of any church is going to share some similar language, and the same applies to the mission statement in any school.  And if it sounds like I'm spinning some quality B.S. here as it applies to the prompt, (inside joke with my students, please indulge the acronymed profanity), it's because I'm a bit embarrassed that I feel as if I can't recite, verbatim, the vision statement, I can't dissect it to prove that I've "woven it through my daily practice."  

Am I failing my students in my inability to do this task? 

Of course my answer is going to be, "I don't think so."

Unspoken vision doesn't mean that there isn't a shared vision.  I don't think I'm alone in my inability, feeling that many of my colleagues would also come up short if challenged.  I do believe there is an innate vision for anyone in education that goes something like this:

"All the minds, all the time."

 This mantra was drilled by a former administrator, who challenged every teacher in her building to engage every student, at their appropriate level, in  thinking -- deeply, thoughtfully, and completely -- on a continuous basis.  It's something that has resonated recently with me, as I've heard the scoffing about the impossibility of differentiation for all.  It's a great vision, and the one that I'm currently clinging to, because I know for sure that we can entertain, enlighten, lecture, motivate, and threaten all we want, but the day they leave the hallowed halls of formal education, there are few that will wake up to someone challenging them to think using their entire brains.  

The vision for education SHOULD be one of independent, motivational learning.  The vision for education SHOULD be the task of preparing students to think, hope, dream, and plan independently, and define their own paths for success.  The vision for education SHOULD be, as Deb Ault so aptly put it seventeen years ago, "All the minds, all the time."



***Update:  Today, 1/21/15, I discovered the district's vision statement.  

Vision Statement
The Donegal School District will actively engage all segments of the community to provide a well articulated curriculum that results in high achievement for all students from early childhood through secondary. Quality facilities and learning resources will be supported while maintaining fiscal soundness and promoting positive morale.