Nothing affects a school district more than it’s ability to create and execute a strategic plan. A good strategic plan can improve student outcomes, keep great teachers and enhance the reputation of district leadership. Failure in strategic planning can be disastrous. Here’s what we know about strategic planning in education including a brief history, what works now and where it’s heading in the future.
I just read this article about strategic planning in schools and it made me think about 3 different encounters I have had with parents this last week. In the article, these 3 keys to a successful school are highlighted.
Getting everyone on the same page and engaging community early in the process are key areas to me.
One parent was praising the teachers at my school for their great support, one told me her son did not have any friends at school, and the last parent talked about how her son did not succeed in any subjects and that they were going to try another school next year. What hit me after these three different conversations is that we as school leaders are not well enough informed about these different school experiences. It is easy to be pleased when you are praised and equally easy to find reasons outside your power to explain the less fortunate experiences. Either way, these conclusions are not based on any strategic planning and we need to address them at an early stage. That is why I think parent and student involvement should be encouraged at a totally different level than it is today. Even if we are talking about high school. Input from parents and students can only make us more informed and the choices we make will be better if all stakeholders are involved.
1. Get everyone on the same page. Differing understandings of what strategy entails, how it should be created and who should be involved, can stymie even the best plans. The first step in creating a successful strategic plan is getting everyone involved to agree on one model of strategic planning. A terms of reference document can get everyone on the same page.
2. Engaging community early in the process. Gain insights and gauge community preferences as early as possible. School districts that engage early in the planning process have a much greater chance at building a successful and community supported plan. Engage early and engage often is the mantra of successful collaborative leaders.
3. Be a collaborative leader. Collaborative leaders in education have long recognized the benefits of early and frequent engagement with their constituents. They know, as we do, that much like early reading programs, every minute and every dime invested in gaining community support, pays off exponentially.