Friday, 07 October 2011 21:50

Using The Class Mission Statement As a Powerful Reference Point (Part 5 of New "Establishing a Sense of Purpose" Blog Series)

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Introduction to This Blog Series:  Establishing a sense of purpose is one of the most important responsibilities teachers face at the beginning of each new school year. Throughout this blog series I will share a variety of ideas that I have used to help students better understand why it is important to come to school every day, work hard, and learn as much as possible.

 


Using The Class Mission Statement As a Powerful Reference Point (Part 5 of the Series):  Last week I introduced the new class mission statement my students and I wrote a few weeks ago and started to analyze and describe it. Originally, I was planning to spend only one week on this topic, but because I enjoyed writing the post so much and felt there was so much value in sharing the thinking that goes into creating an effective mission statement, I wanted to keep this discussion going for a little while.

 

When a mission statement is thoughtfully created by every member of the team and revisited consistently throughout the school year, it becomes, by far, the most powerful reference point teachers possess in our quest to establish a sense of purpose in our classrooms. Last week I talked about the short phrase that precedes the mission statement, as well as the rationale behind our team name.

This week I focus on the first paragraph, which is shown below. (The entire statement can be found in last week’s post.)


TTQ Mission Statement


We are Team Total Quality. We are a community of smart, happy learners and strong leaders. We are committed to achieving the highest standard of excellence in education. You can count on us to be a serious, hard-working class and to make our school a better place. We are determined to accomplish everything.


The purpose of the first paragraph is to capture students’ attention, establish an environment of high expectations, and introduce our highest priorities. This paragraph lets everyone know that in order to achieve lofty goals, we need to think big. In particular, the third and fifth sentences of the first paragraph set the bar high.

Words such as determined, committed, and excellence play an important role in establishing this type of environment. Writing a mission statement offers some wonderful lessons about word choice. The words we choose matter greatly, and we need to emphasize the power of words to our students. Powerful words convey loftier goals, and loftier goals require greater effort and determination. So, right off the bat, we are sharing with students the critical idea that in this class we want the best for ourselves, and we will work as hard as we can in order to achieve that standard.

Notice that the critical ideas of service, leadership, community, and hard work are also included in this initial paragraph, and they represent some of our highest priorities. Students’ self-esteem gets a boost, as well, with the inclusion of the phrase “smart, happy learners.” Seeing this phrase throughout the year will have a profound effect on those children who may not yet believe in themselves or believe that they have what it takes to be successful.

Every student has the potential to be successful, and the encouragement and inspiration provided by this phrase, and others, goes a long way toward helping students develop a confident mindset. Every student is intelligent in many ways, and we need to do everything in our power to convince even the most skeptical children that this is the truth.

Next week I will move on to the second paragraph, the part of the mission statement in which we connect the work we are doing this year to the bright futures we are committed to creating for ourselves.


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