Thursday, August 4, 2011

Passion & Strategic Plans: An Oxymoron?

Who knew?  An international community of latte artists create artistic coffee.  They blog, tweet, and use Facebook to connect with one another regarding their shared passion of latte art.  They share photos of their latte art online for others to enjoy, comment on, and judge in competitions.  Others throughout the world use social media to connect regarding their shared passion of yarn bombing.  They knit covers and place them on lamp posts, benches and other items in public spaces during the night so others discover them the next day.  They participate in International Yarn Bombing Day.

I was not aware of these unique communities of passion until @torres21 described them last week at the Building Learning Communities 2011 (#BLC11)conference.  And in workshops following the keynote by @torres21, @AngelaMaiers emphasized that when people have a passion, they commit themselves to that passion.  They are willing to persist in the face of difficulty to pursue their passion.  They are willing to sacrifice in the pursuit of passion.  The penguin below was a sacrifice that allowed his peers to swim, although I'm not sure this was a self-sacrifice . . .  

The latte artist- and yarn bombing-communities of passion were on my mind as I prepared to speak to leaders in our district yesterday regarding our strategic plan and our upcoming Quality Assurance Review for district-wide accreditation.  Strategic plans often are dead documents which generate yawns, not passion.  Strategic plans should instead be a representation of the collective passions of our school community. 
The big ideas in our strategic plan are worthy of our passion, our commitment.  These big ideas relate to student engagement, 21st century notions of rigor, excellence, the key role of staff, relationships & school climate, and efficient, effective, service-oriented operations.  Staff members will vary in terms of which of these big ideas are most worthy of their passion.  However, what binds our school community together is our collective belief in these big ideas.

Our principals, teachers, and others are building professional learning communities that will spur action in pursuit of our collective vision. Today, principals, assistant principals, teacher-leaders, and district-level leaders gather for the second day of our Leadership Academy to focus on student engagement and rigor.  We will be talking with one another, tweeting with one another, connecting.
So, if you think that latte artists and yarn bombers are passionate, you have not seen anything yet.  As we continue to strengthen our professional learning community, as we build the back porches for shared learning, our passion for the big ideas of our strategic plan will allow us to sustain and build on the excellence of our district.

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