Mission Statements for the Entire School Year
Student mission statements are valuable beyond back to school. Although they can be a welcome to school activity, any time of the school year is a great place to create mission statements. You don’t have to be a Steven Covey disciple to understand how to write mission statements. For students, these thought-filled living documents have much more meaning than the usual beginning of school self-portrait, or letter to you tucked away in a file folder. Mission statements have always been a good idea, but today’s digital tools make them an even better idea.
If you’re in doubt as to where to begin student mission statements, a wonderful approach is to start with a brainstorming session. Students can offer ideas as a large group about what could be in a good mission statement. It will also help avoid having “form” mission statements, where students just fill in the blanks. That is not what you want. Creative class brainstorming is more helpful, so students will hear many ideas, as well as what their classmates think is valuable in a mission statement.
It may be the first time a student has ever thought about writing something that represents himself/herself to himself/herself, classmates, teachers, and others. While creating a mission statement should be fun, it should also be a serious undertaking. Many back to school tasks may be seen as something to get done quickly, but a mission statement is one that requires time. Every word needs to be valued and chosen with care. Students will not see it as an agonizing editing lesson, because it is about them, and representative of them.
While a mission statement can have many things, for students it should clearly share who they are, and how they see themselves. There should also be a line, or two about how they would like others to see them as well. It really is a description of who they are as people/students, with many meaningful adjectives, and possibly an example or two to back up those statements. A self-portrait could be part of the document, but I’d recommend a selfie/digital image instead. This document should be a nicely, well-developed paragraph. Students should see their mission statements as open documents that can be modified whenever they feel the need. A well-written mission statement is a mirror reflecting a close representation of a student.
Later, teachers may want to add a class mission statement that represents the entire group of students. Discovering what a class believes, as a group, can be challenging, but extremely rewarding. Having that classroom mission statement posted for all to see can also be a valuable unifying tool throughout the school year. And there’s not much wrong with Covey’s “your problem is my problem” thinking. Sometimes it just takes a mission statement to get to that point.
Again, there are many ways to use a student’s mission statement—as a start to a personal portfolio, or an introduction to other students and teachers, for grouping and collaborative assignments, as well as for a memory jog during the school year when a student is portraying behavior less than mission statement caliber in class, or with others. An easily accessible mission statement, reached quickly and digitally, by anyone and from anywhere in the school, can be a valuable reminder to a student. Asking a student, “Is this how you see yourself?” can get an immediate, positive and powerful reaction and response. While it’s not the only reason to have mission statements, they really do wonders to support student citizenship and as a whole, a really positive classroom and school climate.
I’ve recently shared with educators the possibility of using ClassFlow as a place to digitally help build, collaborate, share, and save things like mission statements. In the past, student mission statements were created and then saved away in primitive file cabinets, or hung from classroom walls as bulletin boards. Student mission statements, today, should take advantage of all the digital tools teachers and students have in a new learning environment. They should be created, saved, referred to, as well as updated often. Mission statements are perfect for the handheld digital age, and ClassFlow as a friendly teacher and student cloud-based environment, makes a perfect place to build, keep, and modify them, as well as call upon them at an instant. Find out more about ClassFlow.
So, if you’re looking for something to do during those beginning days of the new school year, or well into an existing one, creating student mission statements can have far-reaching and powerfully positive consequences. Be aware, that as a teacher, you’ll have to do a mission statement, too. Students will certainly hold you to it as well. Mission statements are a good idea for all.
About the Author:
Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience, as well as a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is a Promethean storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.