It’s common for schools to have mission statements explicitly outlining their values, beliefs and goals for the community. Some schools use these statements as guideposts for in and out of classroom behavior, curriculum, communication, decision making, and design strategies. When mission statements are at their best, they function as the center of support. When the internal and external pressure is high, it is often mission statements that stay steady, bringing a grounded point of reference for school leaders, educators, staff, and students. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, mission statements don’t live out loud in the way that we’d like. Sometimes they are forgotten, sidelined, or a challenge to keep front and center as one school year blends into the next. Revisiting and assessing our values and mission statements feels imperative in this particular moment in education.
One way we can do this is by including some of our most important stakeholders — parents, caregivers, and families — to develop their own at home. Family mission statements are just as important as professional and educational ones. They help to bring intentionality and mindfulness to the family system. They support family decision making and outline expectations. They are conversation starters and provide stable guidance in turbulent and joyful times. The process of creating a family mission statement is also an excellent opportunity for family connection. Follow along and share these easy steps with the community of parents and caregivers at your school.
- Clear some time on your schedule for a family meet up and explain the what and why of your mission statement goal and how the family can all play a part in bringing it to life.
- Start a family conversation (with older children and teens) by asking the reflective question “What Guides Us? What Feels Important to Us?” “How Do We Know It and Show It?” Considering the ages and stages of the children, this could also be a drawing, a shared storybook, or skits and scenarios acted out. The key element is the children’s involvement.
- Have everyone in the family make their own list of character traits and/or behaviors they are proud of and that they celebrate.
- As you begin to form some value statements, think about prompts to help crystalize everyone’s thinking like “In this family we…” or “We believe…” or “It is important to…”
- Develop a working mission statement that can grow and change with your family. It doesn’t need to be perfect and can even be in draft form! Hang it proudly in a spot where everyone can see it, reference it, and talk about it in a way that is ongoing.
When the practice of value building is at home and at school, it is strengthened in both places. It is familiar, understood, and honored in a way that makes our missions come to life. Together, families and schools can bring statements off the written page and ready to be shared and lived.
Want more information on building family mission statements? Check out the work of author Stephen Covey — https://www.amazon.com/Develop-Your-Family-Mission-Statement/dp/1455893250
Want to learn more about the Science of Character? Check out the work of Tiffany Shlain — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3nT2KDAGOc.