I have discovered that it is possible to determine how bad a mandatory “staff development” meeting is going to be by carefully looking over the candies that have been placed on the tables. Today’s assortment included several types of hard candy, scattered chocolate bars, and mini boxes of Milk Duds. Now the first two have become fairly common at faculty meetings; (our Fearless Leaders know that insulin therapy is covered by our PPO) they are bribes to keep us awake with sugar because older members of the staff can’t hear the speakers if the rest of us start to snore. The Milk Duds, however, were new and represented a new low for staff development. Apparently this meeting was going to be so bad that not only did the staff need extra sugar to stay awake, but they needed something to keep our mouths glued shut as well. I knew already this was going to be a doozy.
As the peppiest of our Fearless Leaders got the meeting underway, two things dawned on me almost simultaneously; this meeting was about our school having a vision statement and I had been jammed into a table all the way in the back of the room in a vain attempt to contain my snarkiness.
I was all set to ask the rhetorical question “What is a vision statement?” and then go on to demonstrate why creating a vision statement in a staff development meeting would appear to be an immediately self-defeating effort, but then I realized something and even did a quick Google search to confirm: no one actually knows what a vision statement is. In our meeting this afternoon, the same Peppy Fearless Leader (PFL) gave us no fewer than 5 different definitions for a vision statement and 10 examples of decent ones that didn’t appear to be examples of any of her 5 definitions.
Shockingly, each table came up with a vision statement about our school which sounded great and included loads of buzzwords, but ultimately meant nothing. I suppose all vision statements are like this, which is why it inevitably falls to PFLs to create them because they are the only ones able to pretend that vision statement creation is useful and important.
As we left the staff development meeting, each of us had to vote for the vision statement that we liked best and this democratic process would ensure that the majority of the professional stakeholders in our school were heard. Unsurprisingly, the statement that was leading in the polls as I left was the one closest to the door.
Apparently our vision statement is supposed to be a grandiose statement about what we’d like to achieve, or perhaps what our idea of perfection would look like, or maybe even some values that we read about once in an old installment of Our State while waiting in a doctor’s office. I don’t know about visions, but thinking about how my time was wasted had me seeing red.