2121 Vision

Do You Have 21/21 Vision?

For the past 18 years, I’ve been traveling around the country meeting educators, and I’ve witnessed how difficult it is for leaders to carve out time to engage their stakeholders in the formulation of future-focused plans. Dynamic leaders, on the other hand, are making this a priority and developing novel ways to communicate 21st-century student outcomes. The good news is that the districts that can identify and embrace a compelling vision realize that it generates tremendous positive energy that is used to power the efforts of their leadership teams, teachers, communities, and students to achieve their objectives. Most importantly, it creates the circumstances for backward-designed units and lessons that incorporate discipline material as well as the 4Cs in a seamless manner.

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In this piece, I’ll briefly discuss some of our members’ visions and student outcomes, detail how they reached a consensus on these results, and offer examples of how some schools and districts represented their outcomes visually in their visual communications strategies.

Virginia Beach is a popular tourist destination.
Probably more than any other district in the country, the people at Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) have invested significant effort in creating community agreement around their Compass 2015 project. They held numerous local focus group meetings to gather feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders, formed a Strategic Plan Steering Committee to review insights and recommendations, and eventually gathered 1,000 citizens in their convention center to ratify the 21st Century Skills for VBCPS (PDF), which focuses on the following competencies: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

Thinkers who are critical and innovative in their thinking, inventors, and problem-solvers
Communicators and collaborators who are effective
Students and citizens who are globally aware, self-sufficient, and responsible.
The 21st-century abilities required by VBCPS have been included in a new strategic plan that will be implemented in the upcoming school year. The strategy emphasizes individualized learning as well as the incorporation of the 4Cs into curriculum and teaching frameworks, among other things.

Fairfax County Public Schools (Virginia) has 186,785 students and 196 schools, making it a massive project to change a district of this size into a 21st-century learning environment. During their latest strategic planning process, FCPS invited stakeholders to participate in an inquiry centered on the following questions:

What are the abilities that all children need to be successful in today’s fast-changing, increasingly varied, and increasingly linked world?
Because of this, the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Portrait of a Graduate (PDF) was adopted by the School Board in the fall of 2014, which describes what the Fairfax community believes is important for graduates to know and be able to do when they graduate from FCPS. The following competencies are incorporated into the portrait:

Communicator \sCollaborator
Citizen of the world who follows ethical principles
The thinker who is both creative and critical in his or her approach
Individual who is goal-oriented and tenacious.
With the Portrait of a Graduate, Fairfax is taking a step forward in its efforts to create a more balanced assessment framework. This is an important step toward the strategic integration of disciplinary content and 21st-century capabilities into the curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Mount Vernon is a historic site in the United States.
In addition to the public school districts that developed the first two models, independent schools have adopted visions of student outcomes as well. The Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in Atlanta, Georgia, has developed the “21st-Century Mount Vernon Mind,” which stands for “the Mount Vernon Mind of the Twenty-First Century.” This particular pupil is a:

a person who is looking for solutions
A person who makes ethical decisions
A thinker with a lot of ideas
Mount Vernon posters from the twenty-first century Every classroom should have a mind hang as a way of stressing the value of these characteristics. Backward-designed curriculum, assessment, and instruction that incorporates both the 4Cs and academic material have emerged as the cornerstone for this approach to learning.

Jeffco Public Schools (Colorado) and Loudoun County Public Schools (Virginia) are two other districts that have lately engaged in procedures to identify 21st-century student outcomes. Jeffco Public Schools (Colorado) and Loudoun County Public Schools (Virginia) (Virginia). There are some excellent resources available on the process that they employed at the following websites:

Jeffco 2020 Visioning and Strategic Planning is a collaborative effort.
Loudoun Vision 20/20 is a vision for the future of the county.
Before I explain my opinions, I encourage you to return to the models above and examine them once again. What do you notice about every one of them?

My Observations

Here’s what I learned about the Visioning process in schools and districts based on my observations.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for 21st-century competencies. To achieve the best possible outcomes for its children, each district must come to its own set of conclusions.

In addition, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to community engagement. Each district or school customized its engagement method to meet the needs of its situation.

Student outcomes in the twenty-first century are a topic of conversation that parents and people of the community are interested in, and the decisions you make about student outcomes can serve as a platform for educational transformation.

The work is both inspiring and enlightening. Every school or district that has gone through this process has reported that it has been an uplifting and empowering conversation about the future of education in their community.

The utilization of visual pictures is quite effective. Choosing a visual representation is a powerful communication tool that can help you strengthen your transformation message for parents and kids alike.

When participating in this process, you can make use of all four of the Cs. A serious discussion will take place among stakeholders regarding which student competencies are required for graduates. In-depth collaboration is required for your community engagement and consensus-building methods to be successful. The more innovative you are with your Vision design, the more likely it is that you will be successful.

Deciding to embark on the process of building a Vision for student outcomes and reaching consensus on it will require a significant amount of time and effort, but it is only the first step in the transformation process. This study serves as a model for the key implementation initiatives (e.g., curriculum, instruction, assessment, and so on) that will be required later. After all, according to Thomas Edison, “vision without execution is hallucination.”
The assortment of 21/21 Visions for student outcomes, as well as the engagement tactics that supported them, are provided in the hope that they will be of assistance to you. Contact our Editorial and Projects Manager, Sara Hallermann, if you have a Vision for your school or district that you would like to share with EdLeader21 and would like to share it with us. In addition, I welcome you to share your thoughts with your fellow Edutopians in the comments section of this post.