The writing of our school mission statement was something that took much longer than I had originally expected. I facilitated many learning experiences and at one point our staff even joked about drowning in a sea of words. This process of idea and belief gathering from our students and staff took almost a year. I actually felt frustrated for a while when we still hadn’t landed on something short and easy to remember to share with our learning community. Then I decided to take a step back and remember that efficient is not always effective, and I needed to be present and honor the process. We had the opportunity to re-imagine our school DNA. We had the opportunity to synthesize our beliefs about the “why’s” of school and create a new path. Thank goodness we came together as a staff and went slow to go fast. Now we have a mission statement that truly defines us and helps us keep a laser light focus on what is important. Now that we have created this new mission statement, our work has only just begun. This will never be something that we can simply check off. Rather, it will continue to serve as our compass. We will continue to aspire to live our mission. Every opportunity, experience, and initiative must pass the mission test. Does this move us closer to “seeing, inspiring and empowering the lifelong learner and leader in all of us”? There is an amazing sense of pride and purpose in creating a shared mission. I can see it and feel it among the adults in our building. It left me wondering how we could better connect our students to our mission.
In a recent learning experience I threw this thought out to our students: “Our mission statement is just words on a wall, right?” Thankfully they disagreed with me. They all knew what a mission statement was, just not quite sure what our school mission statement actually meant. Individually and collectively, we defined the power words: see, inspire, and empower. I gave them no initial definition because I didn’t want them worrying about redefining the “right” answer. Of course, they had amazing ideas. Here are a few of them.
See: Look at things in your own way. See through peoples mistakes. Have different visions. See with your heart. Seeing the leadership in someone where others don’t.
Inspire: A flicker of creativity. To help others grow- it is everyone’s job to inspire. Someone who energizes you to be a better person. People can inspire others to do things never done. When people look up to you or you look up to people.
Empower: Give someone the power and strength to do what they live to be. To have power in what you are doing. To be the power of yourself. Give opportunities. Give people confidence to do things that they think they can’t. Make us all stronger to do things.
I was very moved by these responses. Collectively, they had similar ideas, yet each student had a slightly different personal connection. This experience helped me make more connections to our shared mission. Each day, we have the amazing opportunity to choose what we see. We can choose to see the greatness in others, or we can choose to focus on deficits. Choosing to see greatness will have a profound impact on our actions. When we “see” greatness, words and actions of inspiration and empowerment are more likely to follow. It’s on us. It’s all of our responsibility to see greatness in not just some of us, but all of us. I love that our mission statement is inclusive. ALL of us. “All of us” means that we choose to operate not in scarcity, but abundance. The lifelong learner and leader in ALL of us!