The Archetypes: Creating a Shared Vision

Last Friday, our district technology team (all 6 of us) left the office, all our cell phones, and ties to the school and took a mini-retreat off campus. The purpose of the day was to take some much needed time to assess where we are now and to look at our long-range goals for technology in our district. Attendees included myself (Director of Technology), our Systems Administrator guru, our three incredible technology specialists, and our amazing administrative assistant.

It was great idea and I knew all were looking forward to looking at our concrete short-term and long-term goals, but I wanted to start the day off with a little writing. Without any prior "head up" notice, I told the team at the start of the day, that I wanted us to spend time creating a vision statement and mission statement for our team.

I wasn't really sure how this was going to be received. Having served in a variety of roles in educational administration, I've done this before. I know how exhilarating and, at the same time, tedious this can be.

I can honestly say that it was the best part of the day.

We started by talking about what a vision statement should look like. We agreed it should be a "pie in the sky" unattainable goal that would keep us (and the district) continually looking to be the best we could be with technology in education. After lots of brainstorming, mind-mapping, and coffee, we all agreed about what we wanted as the vision for our district's use of technology. We want the world to look to us as the best example of how to do it "right."

We knew exactly what we wanted to say, but we struggled to find just the right word. What single word could capture what we wanted to be? Pioneers? Leaders? Trailblazers? None of those words cute fit the bill. And they all seemed overused. Then, Elizabeth, our administrative assistant who we consider the "glue that keeps us together" had it!


We liked the sound of it. Archetype. The word sounds strong - almost like a member of the X-Men. When we found the definition online we knew Elizabeth had it right. To paraphrase....
archetype: the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are copied, a perfect example
From there, it was easy. Our vision statement is simply...

To be the archetype for technology in education.

We all loved it. From there it was fairly easy to come up with our mission statement. I told the team that our mission statement should clearly state how we intend to strive towards our vision each and every day. It needed to answer (1) what do we do (2) who do we do it for, and (3) how we will do it better than anybody else. Less than an hour later we had it.

We provide cutting-edge resources, personalized training, and exceptional support to our school community with visionary planning and a fanatical commitment.

There are two parts we really took to heart. First - "our school community" - we exist to serve everyone in our district including teachers, staff, students, and community members. Secondly - "fanatical commitment" - I am blessed to have a team that is dedicated and enthusiastic about all the work they do. They are truly fanatical about serving others.

With these two key concepts in mind, the rest of the day was a piece of cake. We were incredibly productive. We planned a lot of projects. We tied up loose ends. And, we planned for our future.

But the time we took to write two little sentences will carry forward for years to come.  

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