Christine Lewis and William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
Strategic planning is a process of defining schools strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources. Strategic planning is the formal consideration of a schools future. Strategic planning deals with at least one of three key questions:
"What do we do?""For whom do we do it?" "How do we excel?"
The basic aim of strategic planning is to actively determine the nature or character of the school and to guide its direction
The need for effective strategic planning is very important to the success of our schools. The general operation of schools comes with many challenges. These challenges require educational leaders to develop plans to adjust their practices to meet the academic and behavioral needs of all students. The need for effective strategic planning has intensified because of the constraints in resources and inc reased expectations for accountability from external agencies such as state governments (Welsh, 2005).
Educational leaders need to effectively meet these challenges. They must interpret the regulations and policies and then develop system-wide action plans to effectively put these strategies into practice. Solutions now require detailed blueprints for systemic change that identify strategic performance indicators and benchmarks. These plans require that educational leaders, teachers, counselors and other related professionals work collaboratively to identify and improve positive academic and behavioral supports across the curriculum. This must be done with simplicity and commitment within the organization. Professional collaboration is critical for the learning and performance of the highly diverse students that comprise todays classrooms. Incorporating the Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning (Kritsonis, 2007) can create bet ter strategic plans.
Purpose of the Article
The purpose of this article is to discuss ways our educational leaders in public schools can incorporate the Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning (Kritsonis, 2007) to improve schooling. Strategic planning must move from modernism to postmodernism in order to improve education.
Incorporating the Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning to Improved Strategic Planning for Successful Schools
Educational leaders can change the way they develop strategic plans for public schools by creating plans using postmodernist thinking. Postmodernism can be the new and improve way to achieve success for our highly diverse student population. Educational leaders have to think outside of the box to create working strategic plans that will help students to be highly successful. Schools can close the achievement gap that our nations public schools are facing. Educational leaders can create a working strategic plan by incorporating the Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning (Kritsonis, 2007). If we do not know what we want to achieve, we cannot make decisions about how you are going to get there. The six realms of meaning can put schools on the path to success.
One of the key attributes of successful schools is that they have a well articulated vision and mission that all members of the school community believe. It is worthwhile spending time to get the vision and mission articulated because all other strategic planning decisions depend on whether or not the schools actions are consistent with the vision and mission.
The first realm of meaning is symbolics which includes speech, symbol and gesture. Educational leaders must establish ordinary language as part of a well planned strategic plan which is well written. The language in the strategic plan must be und erstood by staff, students, parents and stakeholders. The language should be precise and have a clear message. It should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-limited. Specific means the language should be clear and understood by all, including those not involved in the process. Measurable means the plan should articulate the desired outcome, not the specific strategies. The meaning of terms should be explained for all to understand.
Symbols used in the strategic plan should be universal and express ordinary language in a clear manner that can be understood by all stakeholders. Feelings, values, and emotions can be expressed using nondiscursive symbolic forms. Educational leaders should make symbolics the foundation on which they develop their strategic plan. Implementing symbolics is the first of the six realms of meaning which will take the school system from the modernism age to the postmodernism age.
Educat ional leaders are changing the style of the strategic plan and utilizing the second realm of meaning which is empirics. Empirics requires ordinary language and mathematics for its expression. Empirics deal with the sciences. Kritsonis emphasizes, To know a science is to be able to formulate valid general description of the matters of fact (2007, p. 175). Sciences are important to the educational leader in creating a strategic plan. The educator has to think of how students learn, why learning takes place, and how to measure learning outcomes. The educational leader needs to understand student behavior as well.The educational leader has to analyze the internal and external environment of the school. The external environment normally focuses on the students. Management should be visionary in formulating strategies and should do so by thinking about the diversity of the schools. In order to determine where the school is going, the leader needs to know exactly where the sc hool stands, then determine where it wants to go and how it will get there. The resulting document is called the strategic plan which is detailed and factual. According to English (2003), the dominoes of educational administration begin with the idea of a scientific field as a metadiscourse. It is truethat strategic planning is the tool for effectivelyimplementing the direction of a school, but educational leaders must have an empirical measurement of the future of the school.
Achievable means that the goal should be rigorous and cause stretching but it also should be possible to reach. People will soon lose interest in a goal they can never attain. Realistic is similar to achievable. A modernism strategic plan would imply that all students will receive one hundred percent on benchmark tests when clearly the only way this can be achieved is by creating a test so simple that anyone could pass. The postmodernism strategic plan will be realistic and it will encourage good teaching and learning. All goals need to yield some results by the end of the strategic planning period, and preferably there should also be some short-term goals leading towards higher achievement.
Esthetics is the third realm of meaning which educational leaders can incorporate into the schools strategic plan to make it more workable at the end and achieved goals. Postmodernism strategic planning theory in schools has moved away from the traditional business model to a strategic thinking approach. This is a strategy that is less a fixed design and is more flexible in the learning process that relies on school educational leaders constantly listening and synthesizing what they hear and learn from all sources.
This does not necessarily rule out a formal strategic planning process, but it assumes that the formal plan is open to change and refinement so educational leaders are always open to responding to rapid change. Teachers allow their students to spend large amounts of time developing their talents. Teachers encourage students expressiveness in order that they may gain confidence and appreciation (Kritsonis, 2007, p. 290). A plan will not work if people are not out there making it happen. People will not work with any enthusiasm on a plan they do not own. The more members of the school community are involved in the development of the plan, the more people will buy into the plan, and the more people will be motivated to make the plan work. Educational leaders should include teachers, school staff, students, and parents in some stage of the development of the strategic plan. Educational leaders may also consider involving local business people, the local community, scholars, and any other relevant people.
The strategic plan arises from pragmatic, flexible strategic thinking that relies on judgment as much as on spelling out action steps and the measurement of benchmarks. The strategic plan should concentrate on very few targets over a relatively short period of time.
The other critical element is that the educational leader must get all stakeholders aboard. A postmodernism educational leader will work on one goal within a specific time period. A modernism educational leader will take on the entire strategic plan all at once and will not involve other members of the school.
Synnoetics is the realm o f engagement. It deals with the personal knowledge of the educational leader. The educational leader can empower all that are involvedwith the school. The leader must get the staff to buy into the vision and mission. The educational leader has to work his or her magic to get everyone involved to see the strategic plan as their own. They must see that the plan is all about the success of the students in our care.
The educational leader has to be subjective when developing a strategic plan. The educational leader must use personal ideas and experiences. Educational leaders must see their school as the best school. They need to believe that all students can achieve. They have to think they are the one who is going to close the achievement gap between Caucasian students and African American students if that is the problem their school faces.
The postmodern educational leader works to empower their staff to move away from the modernist thinking that some students ju st cannot learn. The educational leader will find creative ways to help teachers to think outside the box and to develop new ways of helping weak students to get stronger. The postmodern educational leader makes regular workshops a part of the strategic plan for the improvement of the teachers and staff. The postmodern educational leader leaves his or her office and walks the school daily, meets with parents and students, and talks with teachers and staff.
Honesty is the educational leaders motto. Ethics can keep the educational leader on the right path. The educational leader must be fair to all teachers, staff, students and parents regardless of race, age, or religion. The educational leader will not write goals into the strategic plan that they know they can not achieved during the time they commit. Educational leaders do not make promises that they know they can not fulfill. They ask for help as needed. Educational leaders have moral values and live by them when working with teachers, staff, parents, students and stakeholders.
Synoptics is the sixth realm of meaning. Educational leaders can use synoptics to summarize goals and objectives.
History is very important to a school. It tells how much the school has grown and reveals the schools successes over the years. A vision statement outlines what the organization wants to be. It concentrates on the future. It is a source of inspiration. It provides clear decision-making criteria. A school vision statement must become assimilated into the schools culture. Educational leaders have the responsibility of communicating the vision regularly.
Incorporating synoptics in the development of the strategic plan can help the educational leader keep record of the changes in the student body. Educational leaders can display student achievement in the past, the present, and the future. Student pro gress has to be factual so educational leaders can make changes for improvement and track students. Utilizing the realm of synoptics will help leaders in the selection of qualified and capable teachers. Synoptics helps the educational leaders to develop strategic plans that will be detailed with timelines.
In conclusion, the purpose of this article was to discuss ways our educational leaders in public schools can incorporate the Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning (Kritsonis, 2007) to take strategic planning from modernism to the postmodernism age to improve our nations educational system. Describing what strategic planning is can also provide an understanding of what it is not. Strategic planning involves anticipating the future environment, but those decisions are made in the present.
Educational leaders must stay abreast of changes in order to make the bes t decisions at any given point. Educational leaders must move away from modernisms way of management and become more postmodernism. The Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning (Kritsonis, 2007) can help create a well written and detailed strategic plan. Educational leaders need to incorporate Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning (Kritsonis, 2007) in the development of a strategic plan for their schools. The six realms of meaning will assist in a creative strategic planning process, and the fresh insight today might very well alter the decision making for tomorrow.
English, F.W. (2003). The postmodern challenge to the theory and practice of
educational administration. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.
Kritsonis, W.A (2002). William Kritsonis, PhD on SCHOOLING. Mansfield, OH: Book Mast ers, Incorporated.
Kritsonis, W.A (2007).Ways of knowing through the realms of meaning: A philosophy for selecting the curriculum for general education. Houston, TX: National FORUM Journals.
Michael, A., & Jude, K. (2005). Strategic planning for nonprofit organizations. Manhattan, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.
Wiles, J., & Bondi, J. (2002). Curriculum development: A guide to practice. Manhattan, NJ: Bembo Carlisle Communications, Ltd.
Dr. William Allan Kritsonis teaches in the PhD Program at Prairie View A&M University/Member of the Texas A&M University System.
National FORUM Journals
On the leading edge of academic excellence
iAutoblog the premier autoblogger software