Four Questions to Step Up Your School Vision for Next Year

Summer is a perfect time to take a look at your school vision and make sure it still resonates. Here are a few questions and resources to guide you.
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Blog date
7/11/23
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A school vision is an alignment. It’s a bright light that guides everyone in your community when things get overwhelming, or when unexpected changes happen. It’s how we determine what’s most important in our school—and what we’re going to focus time and resources on.

The summer months are a great time of year for school leaders to take stock of your school vision statement. Taking time for your own self-reflection, as well as having conversations with your stakeholders, can give you a fresh perspective on where you are in your journey and the resources you might need to continue along your path to your school’s future state.

The summer months are a great time of year for school leaders to take stock of your school vision statement.

As part of our Restore. Retool. Recommit. annual summer series, we’ve created a few questions—and identified some great books and podcasts—for you to consider as you reflect on your vision, recommit to keeping it at the forefront of next year’s efforts, and scale it for future impact and student learning. 

Looking for more resources to ensure the upcoming school year is a success? Make sure to check out our full Restore. Retool. Recommit. Summer 2023 series.

Are we prioritizing the actions that align with our vision?

The simultaneous focus on the big picture and the short-term when it comes to school priorities can be challenging. If you think about it in the right context, anything and everything can be lassoed into being part of your high-level vision! 

Here’s where prioritization is your friend. Think about the long-term initiatives currently on your plate, as well as those little projects you’ve “always done.” Do these initiatives line up with the vision you’ve set forth? Do they mirror your values? Why or why not? 

Think of your vision as a set of built-in guardrails: a measuring stick to determine your strategies and goals. With that as your compass, your teachers and staff can plan with intention for what matters—and say no to what doesn’t align. 

Think of your vision as a set of built-in guardrails: a measuring stick to determine your strategies and goals. With that as your compass, your teachers and staff can plan with intention for what matters—and say no to what doesn’t align. 

Who else in our school community should we seek feedback from?

Despite our best intentions when we ask for honest feedback, there are still groups and community members that get excluded. For example, maybe you’ve discovered that in the midst of consistently asking for insights from teachers, staff, parents, and community partners, there are key voices you’re missing: your students. 

Consider ways that student voice can be part of your larger conversations around school vision.

Consider ways that student voice can be part of your larger conversations around school vision. If you conduct strategic planning sessions, are there ways to include older students—junior high or high school—as part of those discussions? Or, are there ways to conduct focus groups with students to get feedback on their hopes and aspirations for their school? And their learning experiences too?

If making a place for students in those high-level discussions is difficult, think about ways to increase student agency on a smaller scale. Are there ways that teachers can co-create “classroom visions” with students—goals that can also roll up to the school-wide vision that advances a shared understanding across your school community. 

How can we communicate our vision better? 

When it comes to communicating the broader school vision, leaders have the opportunity to be the “Chief Repeating Officer”—responsible for showing and connecting your community to your school’s purpose and values as often as possible. It’s a key part in building a positive school culture. 

There are countless ways to do this as a school leader. Have your school’s vision statement be front and center on your website, your newsletters, and other marketing materials. Start each meeting—whether those are staff meetings, board meetings, student meetings, or all-school meetings—with a reading of the vision. Broadcast your vision visually through art and multimedia. Ask students to create artwork based on what the vision means to them, or have the words displayed prominently in your hallways. 

A school vision is too important to create and “put into a drawer.” The more it’s brought to life throughout the corners of your school, the more it will become a part of day-to-day life. When someone steps into your school, you want them to instantly feel the vision in action

A school vision is too important to create and “put into a drawer.” The more it’s brought to life throughout the corners of your school, the more it will become a part of day-to-day life. 

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Why think about this work right now?

After the frenetic pace of this year, the warmer months allow us to catch our breath—and when that happens, there are plenty of opportunities for creativity, innovation, and reflection. That space allows us to see our schools from another angle, restore our excitement for the road ahead, and recommit to making the upcoming school year the best one yet for both the students and adults in our care. 

Education—and the ebb and flow of your own school—is ever-changing. Ensuring your vision statement still resonates—and scaling it for maximum impact—might just be one of the most impactful things you do this summer. 


Restore. Retool. Recommit.

This short list of summer resources is all about all things vision creation. In your journey to revisit your school vision and ensure it continues to align with the goals and strategies of both you and your school stakeholders, consider taking a closer look at these pieces. (And, remember to take a look at our first and second articles in this series!)

Read On: 

The Leader’s Blueprint for Creating a Compelling Vision and Engaging the Workforce by Bonnie Hagemann, Simon Vetter, and John Maketa

Being a visionary leader isn’t something that happens overnight—but it is a muscle that can be strengthened. In this book, Hagemann and her co-authors delve deeply into the notion that a compelling vision is the biggest differentiator for organizations that want to thrive—and they draw on data and research from over 400 companies and real-world examples to prove it. 

Listen In:

Better Leaders, Better Schools podcast with Daniel Bauer

Created for the “ruckus makers” in education, this long-running podcast focuses on interviews with principals and school leaders using out-of-the-box solutions to make organizational change happen. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out the episode on school vision—guest Ben Jones has some great insights on how to make it happen. 

3 Things That Make a Meaningful Vision by Simon Sinek

Have five minutes? Tune into this short interview with best-selling author and self-proclaimed “unshakeable optimist” Simon Sinek. He breaks down the three key components of any meaningful vision—resiliency, inclusiveness, and service-oriented—and why they’re so critical.

For more resources and effective strategies, explore our full series: How Education Leaders Can Restore. Retool. Recommit. Now and All School Year—Part 2.

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