Have you ever asked “Why are vision and mission statements so important?”  I mean, what possible difference could they make?

Well, here’s a book for you to read that describes how one public school district revamped how they conduct their business—from the bottom up.  They changed their mission to focus on personalized learning and thus changed their vision of teaching, learning, and leadership.

Beyond Reform: Systemic Shifts Toward Personalized Learning is informed by Robert Marzano’s research.  The central idea is that Lindsay United School District (CA) wanted to personalize learning by moving away from a time-based curriculum to a mastery-centered focus.  They are now focused on collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity.  In the process, they re-imagined what learning looks like, how teachers teach, and how leaders lead.

The story for me was how much time the district spent planning (strategically) how they wanted learning to look, how their schools would function, and how the various stakeholders would interact.  They called their process strategic design and ultimately they created a new culture in support of learning.  They identified core values and wrote vision statements for each of the district’s stakeholders.

It certainly makes me wonder how some of us struggle with the core values and strategic design of Catholic schools—when we would seemingly have those available.  The book serves as a great window into the success of strategic design and the value of thinking strategically about instruction.