What would you do? How would you respond?
Unfortunately, this is how I often feel the leaders of some schools, agencies, and professional organizations in the United States would respond as well.
No matter what entity we visit in Korea, however, the representative with whom we meet is quick to confidently tell us the mission of their organization. Most impressionable was the mission of Buseong Elementary School, which we visited in Gwangju this week:
Happy Students, High Expectations, and Passionate Teachers.
Now, that's powerful.
Let's take a moment to reflect on this mission statement.
Happy students learn better, according to Vice-Principal Lim Yong, therefore the most important facet of their mission statement is focused on student-centered learning. This was evidenced by a conversation with a sixth-grade student while working in the school garden. I asked her how she was doing today and she replied, "I am happy!" Does your school focus on students and student success? And if so, are your students happy?
When students are challenged with a rigorous curriculum and high expectations are set, they confidently challenge themselves to work hard and meet those expectations. This is evidenced at Buseong Elementary where, besides World Language and Fine Arts, students are exposed to Practical Arts in Grades 5-6. How are you holding your students accountable to high expectations?
It takes a passionate teacher to dedicate themselves to the profession, often spending hours before school, after school, and on weekends grading/planning, working with students, and perfecting their craft. Teachers who feel supported, valued, and appreciated as professionals in their field will be more passionate about their jobs. At Buseong Elementary, teachers spend one hour before school each day collaborating on lesson plans and refining their skills through teacher-led professional development. When is that last time you felt valued as a professional educator? Is your passion evident to your students?
In summary, a mission is a statement of purpose, a reason for existing. I have shared just a single example of a little elementary school in Korea whose mission is simple; happy students + high expectations + passionate teachers = SUCCESS
What's your mission statement? Whether it's a personal or professional one I challenge each of you to have one and live by it every day to not only be more successful yourself, but to have more successful students.