In high performing districts, staff members find ways to address the underlying reasons and motivations for the work that is done in the central office to support them. Districts vary in the approaches for doing this. At a minimum, district staff must have the opportunity to discuss and create a common understanding of the responsibility to support schools in their role of helping students become productive, educated members of society. Use the following questions as a guide for staff discussion.
What do we believe is true about the conditions that support learning? What have we seen in schools and classrooms where our students learn best? What is the role of the family in maximizing student learning? How do we go about incorporating new knowledge into our practice?
Staff members respond to the following question in writing or by creating a group picture on chart paper, “What do we want our district and/or schools support to be for schools, students, their families and our community?” Urge staff to move beyond current limitations and look at the ideal situation. Other questions that can prompt a vision include “I want this district to be a place where...”
What are we going to do to ensure that the vision is actualized? This should be a general statement that encompasses all curricular areas and speaks to the entire system’s responsibility to support the development and continued growth of effective schools. A mission statement usually incorporates an action verb such as “provide,” “pursue” or “create.”