How can school leaders prepare for the changes required to create inclusive school environments?

Page 7: Create a Vision

Create a Vision stepOnce a guiding team has been formed, the next step is to create a shared vision among its members. The guiding team’s vision is a description of their desired future school and how that school will be different from the current one. The vision leads the actions of the guiding team through the change process.

Identify What Works

Before creating their school’s vision, the team must first understand common characteristics indicative of an inclusive school environment. To do so, they should gather information about inclusion by reviewing current research literature, contacting professional development organizations, communicating with other school personnel practicing inclusion, and reaching out to local university faculty, among other methods. Ideally, the guiding team should visit at least one inclusive school—and more if possible—that matches their own school in terms of size and demographics. Conducting a school visit allows the team members to observe an inclusive school environment as well as to view the inclusive practices being implemented at the classroom level. In addition, it allows them to meet with administrators and teachers to discuss any questions they may have about creating an inclusive school.

Create a Vision Statement

Create a Vision Statement

This is a graphic of a yellow spiral notebook with a pencil lying beside it. At the top of the notebook page the paper is titled “Create a Vision Statement.” There are four steps numbered and written below this title. Step 1 states: In five years, as a result of our more inclusive environment, all students will _______ (List 2–3 inclusive traits.). After a skipped line, Step 2 states: In five years, what will we be able to point to as an indication of our inclusiveness? (List 2–3 inclusive traits.). After another skipped line, Step 3 states “In five years, who will recognize our school as being more inclusive? (List entities).” The last step, Step 4, after a skipped line, states “Using no more than two sentences, summarize your responses to the questions above to form a vision statement.”

Next, the guiding team uses this information to establish a shared vision of an inclusive environment for their school. In doing so, the team may develop a completely new vision for their school or refine the existing vision statement. A good vision statement is:

  • Clear and focused
  • Challenging
  • Specific, achievable, and realistic
  • Inspiring
  • Measurable
  • Subject to refinement

By articulating their vision, the team can more effectively direct the change effort and increase the chances of achieving that vision. To the right is a set of guiding questions that the team can use to develop a vision. Below is a sample vision statement.

Longview Middle School Vision Statement

Longview Middle School will serve all students in integrated, heterogeneous classrooms, regardless of ability/ disability, language, or educational need, through a collaborative culture in which adults share responsibility and embrace all students. At Longview Middle, all students will belong, be successful, and have their individual needs met by highly qualified teachers and staff.

hs_riddile
Mel Riddile, EdD
National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)

Mel Riddile discusses why it is important for a school’s vision statement to be clear and simple (time: 0:33).

View Transcript

Determine Whether the Vision Can Be Measured

The vision statement should not simply be a slogan. It should be a guiding statement that can be measured. Once the team has written a vision statement, they need to identify each of its objectives so that they can be independently measured. Then the team should brainstorm to determine what kinds of data they already have and what types of data they will need to collect to measure each of these objectives. If they discover that one of the objectives cannot be measured, they need to refine the vision statement. Additionally, these data can later serve as a baseline against which the team can measure the school’s progress toward creating an inclusive school environment. See the table below for an example of how to measure a vision statement.

Longview Middle School
Monitoring the School’s Vision Statement
What the Vision Statement Says Data We Already Have To Measure the Vision Statement Data We Need To Collect To Measure the Vision Statement
Longview Middle School will serve all students in integrated, heterogeneous classrooms, regardless of ability/disability, language, or educational need
  • Demographic data (school and classroom)
  • Subgroup data (students with disabilities, ELs)
through a collaborative culture in which adults share responsibility
  • Classroom observations
  • Teacher survey
and embrace all students.
  • Classroom observations
  • Student survey
  • Staff survey
At Longview Middle, all students will belong,
  • Student survey
  • Staff survey
  • Parent survey
(all students will) be successful,
  • Achievement test scores
  • Report cards
  • Discipline referrals
  • IEP progress reports
  • Student survey
and (all students will) have their individual needs met
  • IEP progress reports
  • Classroom observations
  • Lesson plans
  • Student survey
  • Teacher survey
by highly qualified teachers.
  • Teacher credentials
  • Continuing education hours for all teachers
  • Classroom observations
  • Survey of teacher’s needs for PD

CMS sealMs. Lawrence and the guiding team decide that before creating a vision, they need to understand more about building an inclusive school environment. To do this, they:

  • Research and read about the characteristics of inclusive schools
  • Visit other schools that are known for being inclusive
  • Schedule guest speakers who can provide information about inclusive environments and answer the team’s questions

Now that the team has a basic understanding of the essential characteristics of an inclusive school, they begin to list the characteristics of the school they want to create. Ms. Lawrence helps the team better articulate this emerging vision by asking them guiding questions and summarizing their responses.

Create a Vision Statement

  1. In five years, as a result of our more inclusive environment, all students will ______. (List 2-3 inclusive traits.)
    — Be treated as important members of the school by being welcomed into the general education classroom, regardless of ability
    — Be encouraged to teach each other, showcase talents, take risks, create, collaborate, and see themselves as strong readers.
  2. In five years, what will we be able to point to as an indication of our inclusiveness? (List 2-3 inclusive traits.)
    — All school personnel understand inclusion as the educational philosophy that permeates the school as evidenced by the way they include all students in all activities.
    — All teachers are well-versed in adapting materials, lesson structures, instructional arrangements, curricular goals and outcomes, and teaching techniques that can meet the needs of all students
    — All teachers have the skills and time to collaborate in ways that ensure every child’s reading abilities are improving.
  3. In five years, who will recognize our school as being more inclusive? (List entities.)
    — Families and community members, as evidenced by the way they are educated about and engaged in CMS’s becoming a strong, inclusive learning community.
    — The district office, as evidenced by the ways it offers the support needed for CMS to fulfill its inclusive mission.
  4. Using no more than two sentences, summarize your responses to the questions above to form a vision statement.
    The vision of Central Middle School is to provide an inclusive learning environment where everyone in the school succeeds every day because they feel supported, take risks, try new approaches, showcase new skills, and solve problems collaboratively.

After creating their vision statement, the guiding team wants to be sure it can be measured. They create a table in which they list each objective outlined in the vision statement and brainstorm types of data that they already have and data that they will need to collect to measure each of these objectives.

Central middle school Central Middle School
Monitoring the School’s Vision Statement
What the Vision
Statement Says
Data We Already Have To Measure the Vision Statement Data We Need To Collect To Measure the Vision Statement
The vision of Central Middle School is to provide an inclusive learning environment where everyone in the school succeeds every day because:
  • Special education reports
  • TCAP scores (by subgroups, grades, and individual teacher)
  • Progress reports and report cards
  • Discipline reports
  • Guidance referrals
  • Student survey
  • Classroom observations
  • School personnel survey
Students Feel supported
  • Student survey
Take risks
  • Student survey
  • Classroom observation
Try new approaches
  • IEP progress report
  • Student survey
  • Classroom observation
Showcase new skills
  • Progress monitoring
  • Student portfolio
  • Classroom observation
Solve problems collaboratively
  • Lesson plans (to document paired or group activities)
  • Student survey
  • Classroom observation
School personnel Feel supported
  • School personnel survey
Take risks
  • Annual performance evaluations
  • School personnel survey
Try new approaches
  • Annual performance evaluations
  • School personnel survey
  • Classroom observations
Showcase new skills
  • Annual performance evaluations
  • School personnel survey
  • Classroom observations
Solve problems collaboratively
  • Annual performance evaluations
  • Faculty/ staff meeting minutes
  • School personnel survey
  • Classroom observations

One type of data that the team determines that they need to collect is parent, teacher, and student survey data. CMS is fortunate enough to partner with a local university and will have the opportunity to work with a graduate student to develop surveys.

Activity

Use the tools below to create an inclusive vision statement and show how you will measure it.

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