I have the task of writing my personal mission statement before our first district wide administrator meeting next week. My mission statement is one that has been with me since my first year as a site administrator, buffed and buffeted by reality, but true to the first time I wrote it down almost a decade ago.
When I heard that we would be sharing our statements, my first thought was that my own might sound naive in comparison to the others around me. Smart, innovative educators fill our administrative ranks, and I know the room will be populated with thoughtful and detailed statements as filled with meaningful content as they are lyrical. Mine is honest, but walks the line of idealistic.
I thought a bit about how I might tune my own statement up, adding something about technology, about my PLN, about the common core. I thought about my audience: those smart women and men who would be reading it blind and looking to connect it with its author.
My own statement, while true to what I believe, doesn’t reference the latest in educational research or comment directly on the opportunities technology brings to us. It doesn’t speak directly to community or school safety, both big ticket items to me, and both growing in importance with every week I lead.
My insecurities began to bubble up.
And then… I found myself having coffee with a fellow principal, someone I’ve known for a while and respect a lot. He listened briefly to my thoughts and then cut to the chase. He shrugged. “Be true to you,” he said, effectively ending the discussion.
I finished my coffee and let his words sink in, and it seemed to me that a personal mission statement is just that.
I’d been wrong about the audience. Certainly others should read it; I do right when I put it out publicly for teachers, students, parents, and others to see, but it’s something personal. I’m the target audience. I’m the one that statement should guide. More than being a document for the world to see, it’s something I should look at every day, something that should inform my decisions.
As that wise friend said over coffee, it needs to reflect who I am and what I do.
So here it is.
“I believe that I can make a difference. By working hard and treating others with respect, I believe that I can help create a place where students, teachers, parents, and others in the school community can succeed, and this success is no less than a better life.”
Take it for what it’s worth. For me, it’s true.