Kotter defines vision as “a picture of the future with some implicit or explicit commentary on why people should strive to create that future.” In education, it is quite common to throw around mission and/or vision statements. Those statements can be found posted all over most buildings, but yet they are somewhat meaningless to many. Because most vision statements for schools are nearly identical, they become pretty meaningless. A vision statement of “do good” would be just as effective as many current vision statements.
Jim Collins lists three basic elements that make up an organization’s vision.
1) An organization’s fundamental reason for existence
(often called its mission or purpose).
(2) Its timeless unchanging core values.
(3) Huge and audacious—but
ultimately achievable—aspirations for its own future.
Kotters says that “If you cannot describe your vision to someone in five minutes and get their interest, you have more work to do in this phase of a transformation process.” That statement resonates strongly with me because your guiding coalition will be responsible for communicating the vision to stakeholders. Without a strong vision statement, it will make the communication process very difficult.
I absolutely love that vision statement that the state of Maine has made. It reads that “Maine students will be the most technologically literate in the world.” This statement is crystal clear, and it truly communicates one of the purposes of education in Maine. In 2002 Maine put out an informational letter to schools stating the things that were required on each school’s technology plan. One of the criteria was a vision statement. The expectations for the vision statement is listed here.
the tools of technology with areas such as curriculum content, instructional
practices, professional development strategies, and enhanced services.
Maine’s requirement is a good guide for schools. The guide is very appealing to me because it ties the tools of technology to learning. It doesn’t just focus on technology for the sake of technology.
I must warn you that as you craft your vision statement, there are lots and lots of poor models out there. Don’t be one of the schools that create a boring blanket statement with no meaning!