Building a Shared Vision Part 2: Where Will They Be?

Creating a shared vision is a critical step in school improvement efforts. This post is the continuation of an effective process for creating such a shared vision. In the previous post, we discussed the background of the process, who to invite, and some of the set up.

This portion focuses on how to arrive at the preferred future we have for students we care about. The next post will highligh the last steps in the process. You’ll like this process for the same reasons I like it: it is quick and dirty, and gets to the crux of what we want for students.

Think of a Student You Care About

You’ve welcomed the attendees and gotten them seated at their tables. The first step in the work (after introductions at tables), is to ask participants to think of a student they care about.

indian-1119233_960_720Participants should be directed to think of the students “as their own children.” This is considered a critical component to insure that during this visioning process they do not get “mired in current reality” (get too frustrated thinking about the students who frustrate them!), but rather allow and encourage them to “vision the best” for students they care as much about as they do their own children.

Where Will They Be In the Future?

Next ask them to think into the future for that student – through middle school, high school, college/military/training, to a time when they are living and working on their own.

And ask them to think about “where” their students will be, specifically in three domains:

Professionally (What work will your students be doing for work?)

Learning (What, where, and how will your students be learning?)

Physically (Where will your students be living?)

Have individuals (independently) record their own responses (you might provide each table with scratch paper, or a handout with boxes for each of these three domains, where participants can jot their thoughts).

Next, have each table compile their answers.

The table groups can then reconvene as a whole group to share their Where Will They Be? lists. The facilitator can have three chart paper sheets—one labeled “Physical Location,” one labeled “Learning Location,” and one “Working Location,” and list everything that tables report out. Have groups report out on only one of these three domains at a time. Perhaps use a Round Robin approach, where each group only shares one item on their list, then the next group shares one, and so on. Groups are asked to avoid repeats, and the facilitator keeps going around until all items have been shared and recorded.

Repeat similarly for each of the other two domains.

Occasionally, while asking “where will the be?”, someone will suggest something like “Walmart” or “in jail.” It’s usually good for a laugh from the group, and clearly they are focusing too much on the students they don’t know what to do with. But these kinds of comments can start to lead the group down a very negative path. It is prudent to ask the group, “Is this really our preferred future for students we care about?” This will get the group back on track to creating a desirable vision.

Sample Responses

Below are some of the common responses I have received from various groups.

What Kinds of Jobs Will Students Have?

  • Choice – doing something they enjoy – following a passion
  • Communication
  • Community – give to society
  • Data – analyzing data, patterns, predicting, managing information
  • Family – home – strengthening family connection
  • Flexible – very flexible – working smarter not harder
  • Global technology based industry
  • Healthcare
  • Home – working online from home and traveling to job sites
  • Medical, research and development, bio-tech
  • New – profession that has not yet been invented
  • Professional
  • Research
  • Service industry (stores)
  • Technology as part of work

Where Will They Live?

  • Choice – living where they would like
  • Close to family & Maine (home state), & their home town – staying connected
  • Return – go where they want, but come home
  • Community – feeling of community / connected environment (human)
  • Some particular part of the state (such as Southern Maine)

What Will Their Learning Look Like in the Future?

  • Choice – anywhere / anytime
  • Collaborate – unavoidably, in teams and groups – connection
  • Communication
  • Distance learning
  • Experiential – learn from experience on job
  • Face to face – personal interaction
  • Global
  • Higher degrees
  • Use & find various resources and solve problems and adapt to task
  • Self directed & independent
  • Technology based, wireless, online

I have shared these lists to give you a sampling of the kinds of preferred future groups might envision. But don’t make the mistake of trying to build a vision around these here (or any other list belonging to someone else). Your list only gains its value if it is your own. You need to ask the questions of your own stakeholder group.

But once you have your own lists of where the students will be in the future, let your participants know that this is their preferred future. This is what they want for the students they really care about. And remind participants that if this is what we want for the students’ future, then we need to start preparing them for it now.

But we tackle that in the next post…

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