I remember it very clearly, the day that I came to understand the importance of knowing how to devise a winning school vision. It was the first time in my teaching career I had put on a suit. As I walked across the school playground, Ricky, one of the boys in my Year 2 class shouted across to me, “Where are you going Miss Grant? You look like you’re going on a date!”
Well, I was going on a date, but not the kind of date that Ricky had in mind. I had been shortlisted for the post of Deputy Head at the school and now I was walking across the playground to the building opposite where the interviews were taking place.
My heart in my mouth, I sat before the panel of six as they asked me why I thought I was the best candidate for the job. I answered each of the questions as best as I could. I had spent ages preparing and although nervous, felt confident in my responses.
However, when they asked me what was my vision for the school, something inside of me changed. The nervousness disappeared and was replaced with a passion from deep inside of me. I knew what this school could be, I knew what this school could achieve for the children and their families, I knew that with faith and courage we could buck the trend of urban underachievement and be a shining beacon of hope for the local community.
I knew and felt this with every fibre of my being. I knew and felt this because I had grown up in communities similar to the one that this school served and from previous painful experience, knew that schools without a sure belief in what children could achieve, made little or no progress.
The interview panel knew it too. They bought into my vision and I was appointed the school’s new Deputy Head teacher.
That very first interview for a senior leadership position taught me some very significant lessons about devising (and believing in) a winning school vision…
1. Be prepared to dig deep
When I was preparing for the interview I found myself looking over my past. Asking myself questions about what had brought me to this particular point in my career; What experiences, teachers, achievements and disappointments had shaped the person that I had become and the hopes and aspirations that I now held for this school.
When we dig deep and allow ourselves to reflect on such questions as:
– What inspires me?
– Why do I want to make a difference?
– How does my own story relate to why I am in education today?
We connect with a deep sense of purpose and motivation, that provides the fuel for wanting to step into the future and create a vision of what could be, both for ourselves and others.
2. Be prepared to dream
We are probably all very used to being told that a vision is a picture of the future, a dream of what could be. However, I wonder how many of us allow ourselves to really dream.
I think for far too many individuals, dreams never really take flight because they are weighted down by hidden fears and self-doubt. In that interview, I learnt that I had to fully believe in my dream. Because if I did, others would, but if I didn’t others wouldn’t either. The Mission and the School Development Plan, could take care of the how.
But the vision, had to be inspiring and uplifting enough for everyone to commit to the actions that would bring it to life. So, if you are in a school leadership position and are working on your vision, don’t listen to the nagging voices in your head that say, ‘dampen it down’, ‘that could never be’ or ‘that’s just wishful thinking’. Our children need you to dream big on their behalf, so that their dreams can become reality too.
3. Be open to being vulnerable when sharing your Vision
It’s not enough to have a vision in your head or to have it written on a piece of paper that no-one else will ever see. It has to be articulated, it has to be shared. If you are creating a whole school vision, everyone has to be involved in making it their own.
Individuals need to be able to see the connection between where the school is heading and what they personally believe in and care deeply about. It is not always an easy task. In the sharing and articulating of our vision and values we are in many ways showing our vulnerable self. The part of us that may feel hurt, criticised or judged if others are in disagreement with what we think and believe.
However, when it comes to writing a winning school vision, there is no escaping the spotlight. Your values will be held up for inspection and being brave enough to speak up for what you believe in, should only serve to strengthen the vision and everyone’s ability to buy into it.
I felt incredibly vulnerable when at my interview the panel asked me deep and probing questions about my vision. My depth of feeling and conviction was such that I began to well up with tears and had to ask to be excused for a few moments so that I could recompose myself.
But that just it. Isn’t it? That’s what not just writing, but believing in a winning school vision should be about. Vision should come from the heart. It should stir your soul and hopefully when communicated to others, should stir their souls too!
Realising Your School Vision…
We believe that if School Leaders are to devise and realise their vision for their school, they need opportunities where they can reflect on their leadership, reconnect with their motivation & values and focus on their strategy for securing outstanding results for both themselves and their schools.
It is for this reason that Integrity Coaching now delivers leadership retreats specifically for Head teachers at the end of September to help support leaders for the year ahead.
These getaways are 2 days long and involve journaling, discussion and walking and a series of structured discussion to allow you to explore what you can do to ensure that this year is successful for you and your school. Unlike a training event, they are designed to ensure that all those who attend are able to leave with…
– A clear understanding of how to lead without sacrificing your own well-being
– A way forward for overcoming the challenges of your role and remaining confident in your ability to achieve your goals for yourself and your school.
– An understanding of how to communicate your vision, drive strategic leadership & empower all pupils & staff to flourish.
Last minute places on these retreats have become available, so if you’re interested in finding out more – please follow the link found below. However, places are very limited, so to avoid missing out – register your interest today!
Suffolk – 21 and 22 Sept
Bristol – 28 and 29 Sept