This past Saturday, I was awed to see families writing together. I was awed to see young children take agency, write their own stories and read to an adult audience. I was awed to hear the voices of our students about their hopes and fears in school. I was honored to talk to parents about their hopes and fears for their children. I was inspired by our community of teachers, students, parents, administrators and staff who came together on a Saturday to write vision stories together.
Last year on Edutopia, a great article posted about why every school should tell its story. It’s a read that resonates, and for our district, it has affirmed our own storytelling practices.
For the past year, we have engaged in an exercise titled Vision and Values into Practice. It is a modified Future Search that we learned from Bernajean Porter, which we have used to frame our reaccreditation process. For us, it serves to engage our community in our guiding principles and system goals by creating stories of what we hope to become.
Essentially, we frame our protocol around three components
- Engage in a discussion about what we are trying to envision, which in our case is our revised mission/beliefs (Guiding Principles) and the strategic goals that emerged from our self study
- Create a Wave Packet by using a Best Hopes/Worst Fears protocol; this serves to present two possible realities and allows us to name our fears; once we have named then, we focus on creating the reality we wish for, our Best Hopes
- In collaborative groups, we then write stories set 5-7 years into the future, in first person, from the perspective of a student/teacher/parent describing what success looks like
Not only does this exercise communicate our goals and generate enthusiasm, it also builds our community. It creates engagement in our school. It is fun. And, to quote Bernajean, “once you have a story, you know what it looks like.” It is a narrative action plan, but more than an action plan, it inspires action because we know what we are trying to achieve.