Goal Keepers, Part 2 of 3

In this three-part set of posts about goals, I explore the general concept of goal setting and action stepping, and I drill down more specifically into my school’s new vision statement, Learning for Life, as well as my own professional goals for the year, which are a part of my school’s Faculty Assessment and Annual Review (FAAR) Plan.

Recently, after completing our 2010 SACS-SAIS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Southern Association of Independent Schools) self-study, and during engagement with our ongoing strategic planning as a school, a faculty-administration committee drafted our new vision statement, Learning for Life. In late Spring of 2011, the Westminster board, administration, and faculty overwhelmingly endorsed the new vision statement. A copy of the document can be accessed below via Scribd, and you can read a recent Westminster Magazine article about the vision here (see President’s Remarks on pages 2-3 and Cover Story on pages 6-11 of the pdf).

In a nutshell, I am thrilled about the Learning for Life vision statement! In 2011-12, I will be excited to pursue deeper understanding and implementation of such pedagogical practices as project-based learning and problem-based learning (PBL), integrated studies, and balanced assessment. I am charged up, full of creative tension, to explore schedules and spaces that promote deep learning; to work with my colleagues, students, and parents in learning teams; and to connect globally with the countless “teachers” who can help us achieve our vision.

On the ground, with sleeves rolled up, how are we going to achieve our vision, Learning for Life? Among a multitude of efforts aimed to make our vision our new current reality, I believe a community full of creative tension lies at the center. All of the people I work with want to do our best to enhance learning – what a great trait to possess at the outset and all along the way! To close the gap between our existing current reality and our new vision, we at Westminster have our developing Faculty Assessment and Annual Review (FAAR) Plan to help structure our paths, our undertakings, and our desire to improve and enhance learning. The plan has five, integrated and interwoven parts:

  • Goals and Self-Assessment
  • Peer Visits and Observations
  • Administrative Observations
  • Student Course Feedback
  • Feedback from Duties “Outside the Classroom”

During the development of our FAAR plan, a colleague and I made the following video to help explain the philosophical underpinnings of our professional learning framework.

In essence, our FAAR Plan encourages us, as faculty and administration – WE, not “us” and “them” – to set goals that are going to help us learn how to educate in increasingly enhanced ways while pursuing our collective vision as a school. The other four component pieces of the FAAR Plan are supposed to work as a system, in conjunction with our goals and self-assessment, to provide us with feedback (like that reflective mirror and our biological feedback systems mentioned in “Goal Keepers, Part 1 of 3″) which helps us see if our creative tension is steering us to reaching and achieving our goals and vision. From the feedback, if we realize our actions are not steering us closer to our vision, we can adjust course and re-direct our paths.

If you are a reader from Westminster’s faculty and administration, I hope you will carefully reflect during your self-assessment process and establish a primary goal which will motivate you, and all of us, to strive for and achieve the elements of our Learning for Life vision. What’s more, I hope you will utilize your feedback pieces as a whole system to collect and analyze the data which can come back to you from self and others in order to signal how “on target” our efforts and actions are to achieving our vision. Engaging with the FAAR Plan can be so much more than “jumping through bureaucratic hoops.” Engaging with the FAAR Plan can systematize and coordinate our individual efforts into collaborative actions that result in a realized vision – a vision for the best learning that we can provide for ourselves and our student learners.

What matters most is the mindset with which we take on this challenge! What is your mindset going to be? Will you employ a growth mindset? Will you engage with our professional learning plan in such ways that you are energized with creative tension? Will you collaborate with others so that we can work as a team to take on this exciting and invigorating journey as educators and as learners?

I hope you will! I hope you will help me stay focused as both a leader and as a participant team member. It’s about what’s best for our students! It’s about learning!