Inviting an expert to come to your school to help you write a mission statement can cost thousands of U.S. dollars and hundreds of combined man-hours worth of teachers', parents', and administrators' time.
I'll share what I learned through my experiences in writing and implementing a vision statement with you, no charge! :)
The best way to show how to write a vision (also called mission) statement is through an example. Here is a vision statement that Mitra and I put together for the new elementary school program:
"Our School aims to educate the whole child by building CHARACTER, enriching KNOWLEDGE, and providing opportunities to PRACTICE these skills."
This is a vision statement. The purpose of a vision statement is to help everyone quickly understand what the school is about, decide if they want to be a part of it, and then stay focused on it. If it is too long, it will be difficult for everyone to keep at the forefront of their minds at all times. If it is too short, it won't be clear enough. It is helpful to have a visual to convey the vision, such as:
Now let me share examples that are not vision statements. First, here is an example of an elaboration of the above vision statement. This is helps everyone involved to be able to assess whether the school is adhering to its vision, and whether students are being educated according to this vision. Notice at the end there is a sentence explaining our motivation for giving more attention to character in combination with knowledge, because we felt it would help the community understand our beliefs more clearly. However, it is stated as a fact instead of a belief, because in our point of view, it is a fact.
Our school provides CHARACTER training for each student through explicit instruction in virtues such as:
We will teach academic subjects using the best practices and curriculum available in the international community.
We will provide opportunities to put both CHARACTER and KNOWLEDGE into PRACTICE thereby ensuring that students will be able to live a moral life and utilize what they have learned at school in real-life applications. Combining both character education and knowledge and putting them into practice will help students to achieve a higher level of success in school and beyond.
In addition to a vision statement and explanation, a school also needs to have goals. Goals are still general, but more specific than the vision statement. The goals should be used for assessment, explained to the students and parents, and included on the report card. Here are the goals that we wrote for our school:
In particular, for the elementary school (Grades 1-6), students will develop:
- the desire to continually improve their own character,
- an intrinsic love of learning,
- problem-solving strategies, and
- the capacity to cooperate with others to the best of each individual's ability;
…while learning the knowledge and skills in academic subjects in both English and Chinese languages.
Goals and objectives* are necessary to be able to assess student learning outcomes, but a school also needs a well-written vision statement that will contribute to the unity of the whole school community, and will let new parents and educators easily understand the main features of the school.
I welcome you to share your school's vision statements and your suggestions in the comments section below!
*I did not list any objectives in this article, but briefly, objectives are easily measurable and more detailed than goals.