Strategic Planning in Education

Strategic Planning In Education – Issues And Benefits

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Strategic planning is conceivably one of the most important aspects of teaching. It is essential in many ways – for setting clear lesson goals, for understanding how to reach them, for being able to analyze your work in retrospect. Unfortunately, in reality there are numerous ways how planning can – and does – become more of a burden than an aid. Today, we are aiming to figure out why this happens and what can be done to avoid strategic planning issues while maximizing its benefits.

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What strategic planning is and how it applies to teaching

In general, strategic planning is a process of setting long-term overarching goals, and then defining a clear and structured path to reach them. It is a mean to see the big picture as opposed to tactical planning that targets short-term tasks. In teaching, it’s like building an annual curriculum versus a lesson plan.

The history of strategic planning in education is surprisingly young. US school districts began adopting it in the mid-80’s, and by 1987 about 500 US schools were utilizing some sort of strategic planning. At first, teachers were trying to apply models that proved useful in business. However, over time came the realization that those models had to be modified to suit the teaching needs and philosophies.

Some experts even believe that education strategic planning came to differ from business strategic planning so much that it deserves its own name. This is due to certain fundamental differences that divide the two.

Differences between business and education strategic planning

Meeting in an educational institution. Man showing presentation with Roadmap PlannerFirst is the fact that universities’ value systems are built upon the idea of long-term investments in education, as well as knowledge creation. By contrast, businesses most often concentrate on shorter term financial results. So a strategic plan focused on academic innovation instead of mere financial sustainability has more chances to find support from educational leaders and schools.

Secondly, strategic planning in teaching includes, and relies heavily, on community engagement – parents, students, and other constituents. Many experienced leaders in education admit that without community support most teaching plans are prone to failure.

Final difference is in the way shared governance works in education. In business, you might decide to drive through your decisions and directions in a top down approach. However, in education it’s important to build consensus and ensure involvement across various departments, schools, and faculties. It’s essential to bring the whole academic community on the same page and build both an inclusive and transparent lesson teaching process from the start.

Issues with implementing education strategic plans to real life

Seeing how important of a teaching tool strategic planning is, it would seem odd if anyone was unhappy with it, right? Well, what do you know! Turns out both rawheel and experienced teachers have grown to hate this handy tool, albeit for completely different reasons.

For young teachers, their first couple years on the job often prove to be the most difficult. Their students’ achievements are significantly worse, and about 30 percent of such teachers change schools or downright quit their jobs after the first year. They often feel ineffective and unsupported, and say they lack guidance and materials. For such young teachers, a thorough model of a teaching plan they could rely on would be of great value. Instead, they are often left to sink or swim with individual planning. Young teachers are burdened by their curricular freedom.

Both rawheel and experienced teachers have grown to hate strategic planning, albeit for completely different reasons Click To Tweet

Bizarrely, seasoned teachers have a completely opposite problem with strategic planning – they claim there’s too much of it. They would welcome more curricular freedom! Once a teacher develops a repertoire of knowledge and lesson ideas, writing annual curriculum and lesson plans becomes a hurdle. Moreover, Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, suggested in an interview that “teachers were spending too much time marking or writing up lesson plans instead of focusing on teaching”.

Key to building a successful education strategic plan

From the aforementioned problems and the nature of strategic planning in teaching, we derive a number of recommendations on how to do it right.

  1. Make sure your plan scales well, whether you are a green or a seasoned teacher.  Ascertain that your plan is both thorough enough to cover all tasks at hand, and flexible enough that you can deviate from it when needed. For example, if a topic proves to be impenetrable for students, you will have to spend more time than expected explaining it.
  2. Engage community early on and collaborate. A successful strategic plan requires that you gauge constituents’ preferences and gain their insights as early as possible. Get school community support and engage with them frequently.
  3. Get all stakeholders on the same page. It’s important to avoid different understanding of the strategy and its applications. That’s why a single comprehensive planning tool like Roadmap Planner is indispensable. It is so much more efficient than numerous spreadsheets and notebooks scattered around the offices.

Just like there’s no single best teaching method, there also can’t be the best way to build a strategic plan. However, with our tips in mind you will be able to build a teaching plan on your own and ensure that you achieve your education objectives. Good luck!

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