Specifically, I was referring to the type of professional learning that it is hoped will happen when a presenter is
dropped into your school to deliver inspirational and motivational advice. I wrote about how this often means impact is minimal for one or more of these five reasons – no vision, no skills, no incentive, no resources, no plan.

Over the course of the next few columns, I’d like to offer some guidance as to how schools and organisations in general can help bridge these gaps. Let’s start with the “vision.”

Essentially, your vision is the “what” and collective “why” rolled into one. It should communicate to teachers, students, parents and the wider community why what you are doing is important.

The crucial word here is ‘communicate’. Communication only happens if the message is actually received. An example of when a school’s vision is not communicated well is when it features on the website, school diary or marketing material, but no-one can tell you what it actually is, or means.

Mission statements and lists of values are other examples of this. In my work I’ve found that using ‘appreciative inquiry’ is an excellent way to establish a vision, as the process involves as wide a cross section of your community as you like. It also flips the common situation of a leader saying, “Hey this is my vision, can you all get on board?” to a scenario where everyone has the opportunity to state what is important to them, what their hopes are for the school and what they would like to do about making those hopes a reality.

Rather than trying to get buyin, leaders can see immediately how their staff are keen to move the school forward. Then, collegially, and organically, a vision can form. Rather than one person trying to sell their vision to the community, the community forms the vision for the leader to lead.

There are no hard and fast ways to conduct an ‘appreciative inquiry’. Some organisations take months, while others do it in a shorter period of time. If you are interested in having a look at this model of organisational change, then have a look at appreciative inquiry.case.edu/ to get access to heaps of ideas and resources.

Or, of course, feel free to drop me a line. Next month we’ll chat about addressing the skills gap.