Let me guess--your plan is glossy, has your logo on the front, boasts your mission statement that promises cures to the ills of society, has pictures of kids being happy and doing happy things, is littered with SMART goals, contains a multitude of strategies so innovative you can barely explain them, documents the process of how you engaged your entire staff (please...), how you got input from the parents (the handful that came to a PAC meeting), and how your students were intimately involved in making your school a better place for future generations. Barf. If you actually did all of this, barf again. (I am jealous barfing...)
Why the invective? Why this rant? Because I looked at the last School Improvement Plan that I wrote four years ago, it sucks, and it is MY fault. This is not to disrespect my School Improvement Leader who helped create the plan--he worked incredibly hard. But it was me who responsible for getting stakeholder involvement, and I didn't do a good enough job of it. I put the glossy pictures of happy things and happy kids and happy logos, I wrote the SMART goals and presented them to staff (and to their credit, they mostly went along with them), I engineered the plan! What a backwards way to do things: it is little wonder why I had limited buy-in to the plan. It was (and still is) a static, lifeless document with justifiably little commitment from the very people that were meant to implement it.
So, I have decided that School Improvement Plans don't have to suck. but I have to make changes so that our plan is "suck-proof".
With the help of my PLN and Twitter, as well as my outstanding School Improvement Leader (who is just as nerdy about this stuff as I am!) we are completely changing our approach toward the development of our School Improvement Plan (SIP) for 2011-2014. We believe that we can use 21st Century Learning methodologies and technology to take School Planning to a new level. At the 21st Century Learning Conference in
- To hear the voices of our students, and to integrate their talents into the creation and execution of this plan
- To connect with our parents, and to involve them in the creation and execution of this plan
- To engage our faculty in a Problem-Based Learning model so that they are committed to the creation and implementation of this plan
- To use the process of making our SIP a learning tool to teach our students, parents, and staff Web 2.0 tools and 21st Century Learning Skills that they can apply to their own situation (and this is probably the coolest part)
- To tell our story (and this is just the beginning) so that other schools can give us ideas or perhaps get ideas on how to use technology to increase engagement in the School Planning Process.
And ultimately, to create a plan that demonstrably improves the academic and social achievement of our students!
Our first step towards this has been to create a public blog for our SIP. Please check it out at http://sksssip.blogspot.com/
Within this blog, we have:
- Used Google Docs to create online surveys (with help from parents, students and staff members) for a large sample of our student body, our parent community, and our entire staff (here is a sample of our student results)
- Utilized Wordle to create word clouds that allowed us to quickly establish trends from open-ended questions