Day 3 together--with me as their new director.
On Day 1, our school talked about how "culture eats strategy for breakfast" and we began to explore our shared purpose together at High Tech High. On Day 2, we talked about and started designing EPIC projects. Back to Day 3, forty of us gathered in the room after a light breakfast to return to the topic of our shared purpose.
The plan was to guide/facilitate the group dialogue and creation of ONE powerful purpose statement. SCRATCH THAT PLAN!! I stepped back instead and said, "You have 45 minutes to create ONE powerful purpose statement. Use whatever you need....And (I added) it cannot be more than 12 words." (PAUSE)
I stepped back and they all stepped up. Teachers got materials organized. Other teachers began proposing a process, organizing people, and then the natural back and forth began. Teachers made sure newer teachers had a voice, generally quiet people had a voice and veteran teachers chimed in too. (I watched--mouth shut.)
They identified common phrases and drafted like 8 possible sentences. There was more back and forth as everyone haggled over words/phrases like: meaningful, purposeful, transformative, etc. Then 8 possible sentences were posted on the wall for all to see and they sounded FINE (typical, legitimate) statements like any other school in America might have. Someone else noticed it too and said, "But what makes it High Tech High though??" Time was ticking away, pressure was mounting.
With 10 minutes to go (and a lot of chatter going on), I said, "There's one more thing: It has to be SEXY." There were audible gasps--then explosions of laughter.
Then someone said, what if the purpose was.... "to be excellent to each other and do badass work?" The group of 40 collectively, quietly said "yeah" and then erupted aloud in agreement. HOWEVER, there were a few folks who expressed some discomfort with that phrasing--although they really liked the spirit, tone--the soul of it all.
Then, on time and on tap, a new teacher who just moved to San Diego (from New York, just 3 weeks ago) paused the group and said, "Wait...I moved here from 3000 miles away to do...badass work."
MIC DROP. We're done!
The question that started the conversation was from my good friend @drchagala who says "Schools Have Souls."