À tirán’múgángan, ò ṣẹ̀hìnèékánná
Translation: The nasal sound of the talking drum isn’t without the knowledge (or cooperation) of the finger nails.
[We need one another; you will need others to achieve your goals.] – Yoruba Proverb
In order to transform our schools, wherever we may be and whatever level we may be at, there needs to be a lucid vision. It should be one with a clear purpose. Schools have their work cut out for them these days; they have to be creative, they have to work through the curriculum to get their students ready for exams, they have to meet the demands set by trying to satisfy the various learning styles of all their students, and the list goes on.
Unfortunately all of these efforts at micro managing have left the schools bereft of real progress in actually meeting the needs of their students in a rapidly changing world.
We need to start with a clear, concise vision of what schools are and what they ought to be doing. The world is over-saturated with schools.
Here’s an example of the mission and vision statement of a school.
We strive to bring out the best in teenagers through a legacy of excellent education and value formation.
To provide the best education for sixth formers to achieve their full potentials.
Now let’s look at what the school does and see if those statements convey what’s in the objectives clearly.
Its mission is to provide the best education for its seniors to help them achieve their full potentials. This is a laudable mission and can be used as a yardstick for making decisions at the school. All hands ought to be on deck to ensure that those teenagers get the best education that they can deliver.
Their mission statement leads to the vision and enables one to see where they want to go.
We need to work on creating concise visions such as this in all of our schools and work on their implementation. Both your vision and mission statements have to be stated in a sentence of a few words. Making it less than 12-15 words should be your aim.
They need to be persuasive, not only to the students but also to teachers, leaders, and the greater community — and they has to give them the impetus to want to be a part of it.
To go about setting these statements up, the school and its stakeholders have to delineate the preferred traits they would like their students to have and the ideal environment for the school. These form the components of the mission and vision statements.
It’s imperative to carry along the people who will be stakeholders in the school’s activities along in this process. Expand on what the vision and mission statements pertain to in regards to the school’s progress and future. Remember, getting everyone to buy in ensures that you’ll have all hands on deck as you move forward. From the administrators, to the teachers and the junior staff; everyone counts or no one counts! All are responsible for the atmosphere of the school in its entirety.
Asking key questions such as “what is critical?” “What works here?” “What doesn’t work at our school?” leads to meaningful discussions where everyone can explore the future together.
Breaking down the mission into bits ensures that it is achievable. Little steps that are attained build each stakeholder’s confidence.
In order to propel the vision of the school, there are traits of wholesome learning ecosystems that depict innovation.
1. Students are heard: Learning is a two way street. Students should be able to learn from their educators, as well as from one another. They should also feel free to in turn share their own learning with everyone. We need to build our students up to air their views and ideas without fear;
2. There is an array of options: Giving students some latitude in what they learn gives them mental freedom to be really immersed in their learning. As Steve Jobs stated, the brain switches on when fun is involved and switches off when it is bored;
3. Reflect upon what has been taught and keep journals: In my 3rd year of teaching, I adopted a practice that brought a keen awareness into the minds of my students. I created the opportunity for them to reflect upon what I had taught them and did some journal writing about it. We even held discussions about our journals at the end of our lessons.
4. Give room for change: In my 3rd year of teaching, I had a group of 9th graders, who were wonderful young men that I taught. I learnt a lot from them. We worked a lot with graphing calculators that year in solving algebraic models. We even programmed those calculators and that was where those boys blossomed. They tweaked our programs and showed us their adaptations. I was blown away by their creations and adopted them with all of my classes. I always stressed in my lessons that there was more than one way to go to the market. I am glad that they felt emboldened to contribute and transform our programs.
5. Analytical thinkers: As stated above, the freedom to air dissenting opinions is crucial to transformation. Set aside pride and business as usual, invite a variety of ideas and you’d be surprised at how well your students flourish. Enable your students to ask you questions and give them room to challenge others for the sake of progress, not just to argue for the sake of a fight.
Excerpt from “Reengineering minds for innovation” book
Help us with our mission to bring about change for our students. Please contact me to see what we can do to bring about the desired transformation that we all desire for our children to be future ready!!!
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.