What's Your Bumper Sticker?
The start of the school year brings lots of excitement, coupled with anxiety. Parents worry whether their children will be successful, bus drivers worry that they won't miss anybody on the bus route, teachers are excited about their new class, sprinkled with a bit of worry about class rosters and the dynamics of the class.
School executives also greet the year with excitement and anxiety. Will we meet our goals? How can I increase the chances of us meeting our goals? Do our faculty, staff, parents, community members, and others know about our priorities and our focus?
One tool you might use to help is to think of your key message as text on a bumper sticker. You don't have a lot of space to put a bunch of words on a bumper sticker. It has to be direct, to the point, and the fewer words, the better. I've seen school executives take this exercise and come up with short, clearly understood messages that resonate with their various stakeholders, provide a focal point for their school, and serve as a filter for various initiatives and ideas that always bubble up during the year. These initiatives and ideas are all well intentioned and noble, but these school executives take a look at them in the aggregate and help their leadership teams decide which of these ideas and initiatives have the greatest chance to help the greatest number of students achieve their goals.
The great part is that the biggest part of the exercise is already done. I'm confident you already have a vision statement and a mission statement. Simply distill it down into no more than 10 words that capture the essence of what your school is about.
Best of luck to all with the start of the school year.