Monday, April 18, 2011

What's your sentence?

I was recently inspired by Daniel Pink's "What's Your Sentence?" project to try something similar with the staff at our school. We are a newly amalgamated elementary school, and were in need of a focus, a mission. I pitched the idea at a staff meeting, and while no one groaned outwardly or rolled their eyes, I could feel the temperature drop in the room. Over the next few days I heard through the grapevine about the grumbling, and started to wonder if this idea was going to bear any fruit. I'm happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised! At first bulleted lists started to arrive in my inbox, then paragraphs started to roll in, and gradually carefully refined sentences. Here are some of the responses:

The list:

  • Initiative, Flexibility, Proactive, team player
  • Striving for academic and social excellence in a community of respect and caring.
  • Our students should endeavor to become well-rounded people who take responsibility and ownership for their own learning and contribute positively to the greater community.
  • We are preparing students to be productive, responsible citizens.
  • All students are challenged to reach their maximum potential by becoming independent learners and thinkers who are accountable for their own actions and learning.
  • The student will enjoy life long learning.
  • Our students should learn respect for themselves and others and value inquiry with a critical eye.
  • Heather Park provides opportunities for students to achieve their personal best, become responsible and productive citizens, and embrace lifelong learning in a safe and positive environment.
  • Ecole Heather Park Elementary: a community where inspiration and caring fosters self discovery, self confidence and success.
  • Character (integrity, compassion, persistence), Critical Thinking (problem-solving), Creativity, Collaboration (teaming and leadership), and Communication (writing, public speaking, networking and technology).
  • Education is a means by which teachers inspire students to understand the value of learning and hard work, responsibility for one's own actions and thoughts, and developing a self-motivated enthusiasm for success.
  • Teachers ignite a passion within their students to be energetic and enthusiastic life-long learners.
  • The goal of education is to inspire students to be curious, cultivate tenacity and persistence, and develop an internal drive to value learning in all aspects of life.
  • Heather Park Elementary is a community of learners where students are encouraged to become independent critical thinkers who are expected to treat themselves and one another with respect and compassion.

I'm not sure if we're all that much closer to defining our one sentence, but I do feel like we've embarked upon a journey as a team, and that we are working together to identify values and beliefs that inform our work in public education. Our next step will be to sit down together and begin to refine our work, and try to come up with a single sentence.

I have several questions for you. Have you used an activity like this with staff? Did you find the naysayers took away from the discussion appreciably, or did they come around for the most part? Has anyone come up with a really great sentence?

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