Lab Article 2022 Vol.4
Mission and vision statements: Explanation, guidance, and reflection
The mission statement clarifies why the organization exists and what will be done to ensure that its purpose is met. (Blankstein, 2013).
The mission statement provides specifics about What do we want to do? How will we know if we are succeeding? What will we do to ensure success? In effective schools, the mission statement goes far beyond an expression of “wishful thinking.” The mission statement can serve as the bedrock of the school’s daily activities and policies. It should be fundamental to every decision at every level. An effective mission statement expresses the school’s purpose of existence and serves as a guiding principle for all constituents.
Vision statements are an inspirational description of how the school looks when it fulfills its mission. “Whereas the mission statement reminds us of why we exist, a vision paints a picture of what we can become” (Blankstein, 2013, p.93).
Mission and vision need revision and review to remain relevant and meet the rapid changes and needs in our forever-evolving educational landscape and community.
“Just as a ship sails toward but never actually reaches its guiding star, we too strive toward but never actually fulfill our mission. Why? Because as long as the world continues to change and evolve, our students’ needs will change, and we will need to develop new ways to respond.” (Blankstein, p.89). The mission statement must possess four essential qualities: breadth, durability, challenge, and distinction, while the vision statement needs to inspire and challenge the board, staff, and volunteers without overwhelming them (Emil, 2008).
Having a shared mission and vision is essential; shared mission and vision go beyond words; they are the driving force of every action, interaction, and decision in the school. Blankstein (2012) stated, "Without a common vision, decisions are made randomly. At best, policies, procedures, and programs will lack unity and fail to support one another adequately. At worst, they will actually work at cross-purposes.” (p.94). Thus, developing and revising the mission and vision statements must involve all stakeholders.
Although revising the guiding statements involves all stakeholders, it has to be led and driven by the board and the strategic planning committee. “A strategic board must align its deliberations and decisions with the school’s mission. The board must ensure strong alignment among those foundational statements, the school’s policies and procedures, and any school improvement plans. All are vital to the success of the school” (Chojnacki & Detwiler, 2019, p. 50).
Considering the school’s history, capacity, and potential resources is also a vital step. Besides knowing our thoughts, we need a clear picture of the organization’s potential. To sketch a vision that we can accomplish in three to five years, the leadership must consider the organization’s history, capacity, and potential funding.
The school’s history often plays an essential role in determining its future. As leaders, we need to have a strong sense of how the organization got where it is to decide the logical direction for the immediate future. In addition, the school's current capacity to grow, serve and represent the community will help pinpoint its role in the future.
The school's mission and vision must be supplemented with clear values and a review of the school’s underlying strategies to develop a well-rounded strategic plan guided by the school's purpose and direction. In KIA, we are trying to live our mission and vision by adopting clear steps and strategies; The following strategy can serve as a guide for schools and organizations to live their mission and vision.
The first strategy in communicating the mission and vision is to make it visible and accessible. Language access involves providing families with meaningful access to information and services, regardless of their ability to speak, understand, read, or write English fluently through interpreting and translation. (Gardner & Love, 2021).
The second strategy would be getting constituents on board with the mission and vision(Monteith, 2018).
That would be best done through staff orientation, student assembly, and parent events early in the year. Collaborating with key staff and community members to share the development process with all participants is essential in each event.
The third strategy is storytelling. Storytelling starts with the leader telling their story to illustrate the school’s mission and vision. They have to be able to tie the school mission and vision to the school history and their daily practices or how they do things around here.
Monteith (2018) advised, “Keep repeating success stories that demonstrate your vision, mission, and values… so that everyone is well-versed in the stories that have the biggest impact”. Furthermore, Leaders need to go beyond the stories they tell and invite staff and parents who have been in the school for an extended time or have multiple kids who attend the school to share their experiences with the school. New staff and parents will also be sharing their stories, why they chose the school, and to what extent the school’s vision and mission align with theirs. This might entail extending the activity to build personal guiding statements, Mission, and vision. Leading Effective Staff (2010) recommended the usage of multiple forms of media to communicate the school’s mission and vision widely. They confirmed that “ the tangible swag like coffee mugs, T-shirts, luggage tags, or whatever else you can think of that will keep the message in circulation.” (Leading Effective staff, 2010).
School leaders are responsible for modeling the school’s mission and vision. Modeling a willingness to accept accountability and the determination to develop, improve, and grow is crucial to developing authentic leaders. Taking responsibility and holding ourselves accountable will showcase that we model the school's values of integrity and agency. Encouraging a community of reflective practitioners starts with authentic leaders who align their words with their actions and tie them to the three I’s: intention, implementation, and impact. Kouzes and Posner (2017) noted that “If you want to get the best results, make sure you practice what you preach.” (p. 75).
In sum, we can argue that promoting our mission and vision requires us to bolster what we are saying with our behavior. Suppose people see one thing and hear another, our credibility is shot, and our vision is dead. Having a shared mission and vision that goes beyond words is essential as it creates a sense of community, provides direction, promotes accountability, improves student outcomes, and enhances the school's reputation.
- Blankstein, A., (2012). Failure is not an option: 6 Principles that advance student achievement in highly effective schools. SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.
- Bryson, J. M. (2018). Strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations: A guide to strengthening and sustaining organizational achievement (5th ed.). Wiley. https://read.amazon.co.jp/?asin=B078TQPJSB&language=en-US
- Chojnacki, D., & Detwiler, R.M. (2019). International trustee handbook (2nd ed.). National Association of Independent Schools.
- Emil, A., (2008) The Fieldstone Alliance Nonprofit Guide to crafting effective mission and vision statements. Turner Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.
- Gardner, L., Love, J., (2021) Equity through language access: Best practices for collaborating with interpreters. Colorin Colorado. Retrieved from: https://www.colorincolorado.org/article/equity-through-language-access-best-practices-collaborating-interpreters
- Gruenert, S., & Whitaker, T. (2015). School Culture Rewired: How to Define, Assess, and Transform It [Kindle iOS version]. https://read.amazon.co.jp/?asin=B00TA6NEOO&language=en-US
- Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2017). The leadership challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations (6th ed.). Jossey-Bass.
- Monteith, A., (April 23, 2018) 5 tips on communicating your vision and values. Ambition Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.ambition.org.uk/blog/5-tips-communicating-your-vision-and-values/
- Orem, D. (2017, April 18). Your school's big dream: Creating a vision for the future. National Association of Independent Schools. Retrieved June 19, 2022, from https://www.nais.org/learn/independent-ideas/april-2017/your-school’s-big-dream-creating-a-vision-for-the/
- The Leading Effective staff (March 10, 2010) The best ways to communicate your organization’s vision