I’ve spent the last two days in Salem, MA, contemplating with my colleagues the challenges and opportunities we face in our work.
Retreats and strategic discussions always remind me of the first time I participated in a strategic planning process.
When I was in high school, I participated in a strategic planning process for Canyon Elementary School – the K-8, 3 classroom, 75 student school in a Redwood forest which I had recently graduated from.
To be honest, I don’t remember much about the process.
I remember people talking in big, grand, terms about what the school’s mission was, should be, and whether it was being met.
I remember thinking it wasn’t that complicated. We wanted to teach people to love learning.
We spent two or three days hashing over the topic. Talking about the importance of a strong academic grounding. Questioning whether it was worth sacrificing a passion for learning in order to instill the recollection of facts that were considered to be needed for high school and therefore future life success.
Talking about what was needed to educating students successfully.
Asking what it means to educate students successfully.
Drafts, poems, and critical dialogues later, we emerged with consensus on a completed, wordsmithed mission statement.
We didn’t solve all our problems, but we dove into them in a deeper way than I’d ever known to happen.
We didn’t all agree, but we reached understanding and compromise.
And it made me realize just how important it is to take time aside for reflection and planning. For deliberation and dialogue.
To not just do the work, but to think about the work.
To always ask how we are doing. And how we can do better.