Understanding and Executing our TAS Mission

By Jim Klar, Communications Officer

If TAS students could see what goes on in professional development sessions, they would recognize the same principles employed in the planning and execution of their classes. Faculty and administrators practice what they preach through mindful inquiry, investigation, spirited discussions, note-taking, and evaluations. Plus, regular snack breaks. 

Led by Deputy Head of School Dr. Liz Gale and Academic Dean Amanda Jacob, the "Defining Our Why" session during the most recent professional development day was no exception. With "unpacking the TAS mission statement and its role in our community" as its goal, the event launched a journey to manifest what we stand for as educators at TAS. 

The afternoon began with teaching faculty and staff assembled in the TAS Upper School gym with strategically assigned seating that guaranteed cross-divisional interaction. Participants then embarked on a task-based process to make the mission real through group discussions, noting their conclusions, and presenting their table's findings at the end of each section. As a result, they gained a personal understanding of the mission and imagined what it would look, sound, and feel like in their classrooms. They also considered existing and potential obstacles to achieving the mission, while brainstorming ideas to surmount them. 

 

"Mission statements can often seem lofty and removed from the organizations they mean to guide," said Gale. "We wanted our teams to make a personal connection to the language while they reflected on ways to make it a reality in their daily interactions with students."  

The following steps include the education leadership team analyzing the feedback with a focus on trends across divisions, consolidating how participants think vital words and phrases should look, sound, and feel like in the classroom, and then sharing their findings.  

"We consider this part one," added Jacob. "Understanding where we are and where we're going gives us a better idea of how to get there."  

In the meantime, the session was an important reminder that faculty should remain mindful of the mission daily and refer to it when planning lessons, instructing, and assessing students. Every person on campus has a part to play in helping the school achieve its mission, a mission which was changed recently by the TAS Board of Directors in May 2021 as part of the larger Strategic Plan, covering school years 2021-2026. 

Gale and Jacob also recommend dedicating time to developing a shared understanding of the mission with students. "Through this journey," said Jacob, "we develop a shared understanding of our mission and collectively determine what we aspire to achieve surrounding the future of learning at TAS.”