Friday, 14 October 2011 21:50

Using The Class Mission Statement to Connect the Present to the Future (Part 6 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 to Connect the Present to the Future (Part 6 of the Series):  One of the primary benefits of a class mission statement is its ability to help teachers connect daily learning activities to important future purposes. By making this connection, we can help students find greater meaning in their work and better understand why committing themselves to educational pursuits is so vital.

 

Ever since I started creating mission statements with my students, I have used the second paragraph to focus on this present-to-future connection. Please take a moment to read the second paragraph from this year’s class mission statement.

We are in third grade now, but we are already looking ahead to the future. We come to school on time ready to learn so that we can be what we want to be. The work we do matters. It helps us get smarter and prepares us for when we grow up. We want to graduate from college, get spectacular jobs, earn money, reach our goals in life, and make a difference in the world. Learning makes us successful.


Though it may seem obvious to adults, the idea that working hard in school prepares us to be successful adults is new to many children, and the sentiments expressed in this paragraph aim to make this idea clear. In addition, the idea of attending and graduating from college after we finish high school is new to many students. The sentences in this paragraph can expand children’s perspectives and open their eyes to new aspirations. The link between educational attainment and financial success is another significant idea that a mission statement can convey, as is the notion that an education can empower us to help others and contribute to society.

Another aspect of this paragraph that I really like is its flexibility. Though the paragraph states that we all want to get spectacular jobs and reach our goals in life, it does not specify what these goals or jobs must be. Thus, it subtlely acknowledges the fact that we are all unique individuals with unique hopes and dreams. Stephen Covey, the well-known author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and other wonderful books, says that effective mission statements are “focused, yet flexible.” I try to keep this idea in mind when I am taking all the ideas my students have written during the missioning process and turning them into a final class mission statement. When my kids and I discuss various aspects of our mission statement every Friday morning, this paragraph gives us many opportunities to engage in rich conversation.


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