In Quality First, we use the VISION model to guide the quality improvement journey, and every journey needs a roadmap. In this first stage, you’ll focus on vision casting. As back-to-school season is upon us, educators are busy making plans for the year. The season is full with planning for the year’s special events, planning curriculum and developing individual plans to support the learning of the children in your care. It’s also an excellent time to develop or review plans for quality improvement goals. But before diving right into goal setting, it’s important to make sure you have a clear vision for your program. As the leader of your quality improvement process, casting your vision is your first step in your quality improvement journey.
What is your vision?
A vision is a big picture description of an ideal future. It’s an image of your hopes for your program. Consider your vision as your final destination. Once you’ve clearly identified your destination, you can then identify your goals and action steps, which are the routes you take to get you there, and the stops you make along the way. If your program has never developed a vision, consider it an opportunity to define your ideal future and ensure you are committing your energies toward the future you want to create.
Bringing minds together
As you cast your vision of an ideal future, be sure to gather the right partners to join in the process. If your program employs staff, vision casting could be a team effort. Gather your staff for brainstorming about their values and their hopes for an ideal future. Ask families for their ideas about what makes your program unique, why they chose your program, and what they hope their children will gain from your program.
Questions to spur your thinking
To cast your vision, think about the values that are important to your program and team. Here are just a few questions to get you started:
- Why did we enter the field of early childhood education? What keeps us here?
- What do we want our program to be known for?
- What do we hope families notice about our program?
- What do we want children to experience during their time in our care? What do we want children to remember about their time here?
- What brings out our best work as early childhood educators? What are we excited about?
Once you’ve defined your vision, use it. Talk about your vision and refer to it to guide your decisions. New members of your team should believe in the vision of your program and be oriented toward the vision and how it guides daily operations. Remind team members of the vision on a regular basis and point out and celebrate actions you see in alignment with the vision. As you make plans for quality improvement goals and how to prioritize your time, be sure to consider any new action in terms of whether it gets you closer or further from your vision.