I just had a second meeting with parents in our High School this month. These meetings primarily regarded the important and defining new language the school has created entitled, “Learning for Life: A Vision for Westminster.” We call these gatherings “Coffee with the Principal.” Last week the group was fairly modest, while this week the crowd almost overflowed the lovely Inman Commons Room. Originally, I had just one such meeting this month on my calendar, but because of a scheduling mistake it appeared on different dates on two different school calendars. Such mistakes happen, and in this case I couldn’t be happier that we made it and that I quickly decided to reprise the meeting from last week. As we start to lean into the demands of the “Learning for Life” vision, I am keenly aware that we will need to communicate often, clearly, and fully to families about the path it calls us to follow. Having the chance to speak again on this topic at this moment struck me as an excellent opportunity.
Our communications task at this moment in the school’s life is multi-faceted, and it transcends the relatively simple demand to keep families informed. In order for us to reach toward the full ambition of the vision, we must enlist them as supporters and believers in the difficult and nettled work ahead. I want them to reach a level of belief such that they hold us accountable for our specific progress toward the aspirations of “Learning for Life.” I want them saying, as several parents of current juniors and seniors told me afterward, “I wish my children were going to be here to benefit from all this!” I have written about several aspects of this task before <here>; however, the landscape of our work in this area is just becoming fully clear to me now.
I have spoken to my (outstanding!) leadership team about the need to recognize and move toward those areas “where the good work is” in the school. It can be a confounding task coming in to a new job and trying to understand the work taking place based solely on written job descriptions. I have had much more luck and garnered better insight by asking team members– where their work is? What matters to them? What should be driving their focus? And how can I and how can others support them in doing it? It is evident to me that a significant portion of the important work in my school will be in the area of establishing, nurturing, maintaining and extending partnerships with families in the specific context of our strategic direction. We can do it; it will be exciting, difficult, and rewarding; and it will doubtlessly be the good work we need to do.