WPS is launching an effort to envision the future for our students, schools and community, and to embrace the practices that will enable us to realize that vision. Through this initiative, we hope to travel down two parallel tracks.
First - We’re trying to develop an approach or strategy, a manner in which we as a community can come together – in small and/or larger groups - to solve problems. How do we strengthen our capacity to have more honest conversations, where we can disagree agreeably, and hear and understand the different perspectives that often accompany complex issues? We know that in order to prepare our students for a rapidly changing world, where learning takes place in so many ways, our schools will have to be much more nimble and agile. We know faculty and staff want to be part of this conversation, and that all stakeholders, including students, need to have their voices heard.
Second – Where are we going, as a district? By what beacons should we be steering this “ship,” imagining our students, schools and community, five to seven years from now? We are overwhelmed with possibilities: pressures to change, different directions we can go, with limited resources. So what are we going to do and what aren’t we going to do? Through a series of conversations with all stakeholders, we will begin to craft a vision for where we are heading.
On Track 1, we hope to custom build an approach for Winchester that is inclusive, honest and engaging, and then to practice it to answer the questions of Track 2: What kind of do we want our students to become? What will they know and be able to do? How do we encourage continuous learning for the adults in the building? What resources do we need to get there? How might we know if we are making progress?
A Team of WPS stakeholders has agreed to serve as the organizers, data collectors, and co-leaders of this work and to direct and inform the process. Together, they represent a broad cross-section of the school and district communities of Winchester.
Between January and June 2017, there will likely be three overlapping phases to our work. January and February meetings will be spent determining guiding principles and norms and then designing and developing this approach. How do we individually lead these conversations with our own stakeholder groups and be a catalyst for healthy dialogue? Through training and workshops, we will focus on building our team’s capacity to engage in this work.
Over the Spring, we hosted a number of workshops, first with central office and building leadership, and then staff, students, parents and other stakeholders. Through these conversations, we asked what our students need, what our adults need, and what are our shared priorities and core values. We used surveys, small one-on-one conversations, staff meetings, and lunches to share perspectives and collect ideas.
Finally, with guidance by outside facilitators, we will strive to find consensus, and make recommendations for strategic planning, communications, leadership, and resources.
This is not a strategic plan, though it will lay a foundation for one. Nor is it a mandate to implement a later start time, all day kindergarten, or any specific program. This isn’t just about doing better, or more, but being aspirational and pro-active. We hope to identify long-term beacons of where we want to go, and to develop a practice of having hard but successful conversations about how to get there.
· Reveal core WPS values shared by all stakeholders;
· Develop and refine a short list of long-term objectives or focus areasthat will inform a future strategic planning process, resource allocations, human resource and professional development practices, and policy decisions moving forward;
· Leverage staff and stakeholder voices, establishing a shared sense of problem-solving, purpose and ownership among staff and community stakeholders; and
· Develop groundwork for building a collaborative coalition of supporters.