So yesterday morning a few of us got together to think critically about how to unpack and roll-out the upcoming work that revolves around our new strategic plan. The conversations were super engaging, and I left feeling very eager and excited to get the rest of you involved over the next few weeks. The one thing that struck me however, as we looked closely at this year’s action points, was how much purposeful intent there is to create and inspire a true school “community”.
Becoming a community school, in the truest sense, involves a committed focus from all of us to not only empower the students and faculty, but to find ways to utilize, galvanize, and value/celebrate all of our stakeholder groups, as we bring our new mission and vision to life. Our new mission actually includes the word “community” in it, which of course is a specific and explicit attempt to hold ourselves accountable for developing, and fostering these strong and lasting partnerships. The idea is to inspire community at a micro level through our individual students, our classrooms, our separate divisions, the specialist staff, the maintenance workers, our guards, and all the rest… and at a macro level through our parent community, our partnerships with local and surrounding schools, the regional community groups, and eventually on a global scale as we send our graduates out to take on and change the world. Here’s our new mission by the way, so you can take a few moments to think about what it means to you…
We are an English language-based international learning COMMUNITY that values diversity, embraces a culture of collaboration, innovation, and excellence, and inspires empathetic and ethical student leaders.
So where to begin? For most of us I think it’s easiest to start small, and to find ways to embed this message deep within our students and parents so we can eventually reach out to larger, more ambitious endeavors…we need to truly know who we are as a school, and not only create a new culture and community over time, but come to understand and embrace it as a united tribe before we look to expand outwards. Here are a few ideas for you to wrestle with over the year, which might help you begin to inspire our students and our parent community…
- Use the expertise of our parent community (How about inviting our poets and authors into a Language Arts class? Maybe our computer programmers into a digital technology class ? What about our engineers, our mathematicians, our business owners, our musicians, our historians, our meteorologists, our professional athletes, or any other professionals that would connect the classroom to the world outside our walls? These connections will not only foster wonderful relationships within our community, it will give our students a chance to learn in a more authentic way).
- Have appreciation days for our facilities and support staff, as well as our teacher assistants. Let’s work to ensure that these incredibly hard working men and women are not under appreciated or undervalued as they do so much to allow us to focus on the learning of our students.
- Invite the local neighborhood community leaders, and schools to our student performances, our graduations, and get them involved in a much bigger way through our service learning initiatives. Many of us are guests in their country and we should show our appreciation by building a mutually strong partnership. This is also a great way to start celebrating our brand!
- Celebrating our students and all they accomplish in every possible way…assemblies, honor societies, award nights, social functions, and all the rest…truly make them the focus of everything we do!
- Talk specifically about our new mission, and get our kids to start hearing and taking ownership of the journey that we’re on!
I love the quote by Henrik Ibsen, which says, “a community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm”, because it reminds me of how invested we all are to get going with the work that lies ahead. Shortly you’ll all have the opportunity to sign up for a specific action team, and your expertise and passion will begin to turn this community ship around. In my opinion, some of the most difficult work has already been tackled…we’ve got the right people on our ship, which is an important first step, and it feels good knowing that we’re bringing this community to life together! Have a fantastic week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week……
“For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other.”
– Millard Fuller
TED Talk – Seth Godin (The Tribes We Lead)
TED Talk – Charlie Todd (Shared Experience of the Absurd)
*An entertaining way to build community
Community building Articles –