The Importance of Mission

I have some strong convictions and some not-so-strong convictions. I believe my job is to create a classroom that is equitable, rigorous, and relevant. I believe relationships are foundational to learning. I believe the question, 'What thinking work am I asking students to engage in?' is one of the most important questions I can ask. I believe technology is simply a tool. And I believe having a clear mission is crucial. My mission is clear - students will learn to read critically, write consciously, speak clearly and tell their truth - thank you, Clint Smith.  

As our district looks at ways to authentically integrate technology into our classrooms, I was struck by Drew Perkins article, 15 Questions to Ask About Your Tech Integration. In it, he asks an important question: How does this tech align with my school, and class mission and vision?  This question caused me to pause and consider my mission in lieu of technology. Here are some thoughts about how my districts technology initiative aligns with my mission:  

Because of technology students can...
  • Read the world more critically: I teach in a small rural town where many students don't leave the plateau - technology has allowed them to leave. Technology has eliminated the four walls of the classroom and allowed them to read a world, that in the past was inaccessible. Technology has given them access to a multitude of points of view they can sift through with a critical lens and begin to develop their worldview apart from parents.
  • Write for a wider audience and purpose: The incorporation of technology has pushed my students to no longer write solely for their teacher and classmates. The audience has become YouTube and Amazon, government officials and online publications. Students are no longer bound by the constraints of their seats and chairs, pencils and paper. They can write to the world.
  • Speak their truth: Because of technology, the world is smaller and students are developing their voices apart from their parents - and their voices are informed (or at least moving in that direction). When I was a kid, I was my parents. Their voice was my voice. In school, we were not forming opinions around questions like, Is the United States living up to the first three words of the Constitution? or Can class status be changed?  But with technology, students are developing an identity apart from their parents at an earlier age, which is both wonderful and frightening, awful and beautiful, right and wrong.  But the reality is, tech has allowed students to see beyond their homes, and they are speaking their truths in and out of school. 
I grew up on the plateau. I went to school on the plateau. And when I left the plateau, I was unprepared for the outside world. I could not read critically, I did not write consciously, I could not speak clearly and I could only tell my parent's truth - I'm not joking. Leaving challenged the beliefs and the truths I clung to. Leaving forced me to find my voice and engage in a world I was completely unprepared for. Students no longer have to leave.

The addition of technology has engaged students in a new way; yet, I still believe technology is simply a tool. A tool that has made my job easier, yes; however, if the technology were eliminated tomorrow, little would change in my classroom. My students would still learn to read critically, write consciously, speak clearly and tell their truth - because that is my mission.

I love my mission. Everything I do flows from my mission and I'm at a place in my career where my mission is clear. And I'm yours?

As we move forward, I would love to hear your mission as an educator. Give me ten words or less in the comments that capture its essence!

Until next time.


  1. Challenge accepted:
    Understanding of how subjects are connected through knowledge, skills & experiences.

  2. Here we go.....10 words: Genuine respect for EACH one; nudge each one to grow!

    1. You live this mission, Chris. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I really like your mission. I think you've done a solid job establishing a vision to cling to when the waters get rough. So often we lose sight of the target when challenges arise.

    Your challenge makes me question myself because I don't have an established mission. I have ideas that I can articulate, but i don't have a concise, clearly stated mission. I think I need one. I don't want to just throw one out without careful thought.

  4. I love this mission statement! (I also follow Clint Smith on Twitter!) I don't have a mission statement but I do have my philosophy:

    The aim of English is communication. The ability to effectively communicate ideas, opinions, thoughts and desires is an essential skill needed in today’s society.

    “It has become fashionable to say that our present epoch is an information
    age, but that’s not quite right. In truth, we live in a communication age and
    it’s time we start taking it seriously.” Greg Satell, Forbes, 2 Feb 2015.

    In order to acquire this skill, students will learn reading and writing strategies to develop insightful commentary and opinions to communicate through oral and written forms.

    1. Awesome sauce. Thanks for sharing, Monica. (Clint Smith is fantastic)

  5. This is fantastic! And just what I am needing to begin the push through the "plateau" that I am currently feeling in my career. Not the plateau you are referencing :), but the "plateau" of continuing to grow & develop as a professional educator. So, here goes my attempt:

    "Developing empathetic global citizens with a passion for service leadership."

    While this may evolve as I am challenged to establish my mission, this is a pretty good start. Thanks for the nudge to make my mission more clear.

    1. Steve Murphy - Need to figure out how to add my name to my comments. :)

    2. Love your mission, Steve! Keep fighting the good fight - you are a true leader and your work does not go unnoticed by me.

  6. Getting kids to think deeply, persevere, and be ok with confusion.

  7. I have decided not to word smith - Love, Laughter and Light.

  8. Great piece! Great mission statement! AMAZING Impact you are having on our students!
    You might be familiar with my mission statement as an instructional learner!

    Mission - Assessment + Feedback + Technology = Impact!
    Vision - When EMS staff come together we are purposefully learning from one another.
    Goal - Continue to reflect, collaborate, and try new practices to improve student Learning.


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