Focusing on the Future: Linden’s Approach to Strategic Planning
Strategic Plan Visioning: Graphic recording by Linden parent Kathyrn Maxfield.
Before the start of each school year, Linden’s Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, and staff are hard at work thinking and planning for what our students will learn — and how — in the upcoming and future terms. By March of each school planning cycle, trustees and the administrative team are once again thinking ahead to the next school year.
But who thinks even further ahead — to the next several years, or even a decade, into the future? Strategic planning is a key function of Linden’s Board of Trustees and it’s something the Board revisits every year along with collaborators from the faculty, staff, and community.
What is strategic planning?
Strategic planning is the process of establishing and documenting the direction of the organization. It’s a way to define long-term goals and the action plans that support them. It is also a forum in which we can revisit our mission and values, and confirm that our strategic priorities and long-term plans are in alignment.
How does strategic planning at Linden work?
The Board begins planning for its annual retreat in February, by identifying and prioritizing the school’s current and anticipated challenges. Trustees, administrators, and volunteer committee members are asked to address the following questions: Are there areas that we need to improve on in the coming year, or that we think will — or even may — become emerging issues?
Using this input, trustees agree on specific topics or areas for strategic discussion and decision-making.
In March or April of each year, the Board assembles for the retreat. Trustees invite faculty, staff, parents, and other community members who have a valuable perspective on each year’s prioritized topics or issues to join the discussion. The retreat is led by a member of the Board and is held over a weekend to allow plenty of time for thinking and full exchange of ideas.
The team reflects on the prior year’s strategic planning performance and works through a number of strategic planning exercises to achieve an objective that is identified and agreed to at the beginning of the retreat. At the end of the retreat, the team produces an action plan and confirms that it is aligned with our mission and values.
The remainder of each school year is spent following up on the retreat and executing the action plans. Sometimes additional support is needed to make this work happen — a new committee may need to be created, specific expertise may need to be sought, experts consulted or an external organization hired to perform a task that Linden’s trustees, administrators or volunteers can’t do ourselves. The community is updated periodically on the direction and progress of the strategic plan.
What strategic planning work is in progress today?
The strategic planning team met at the 2020 virtual annual retreat and worked on identified priorities. This work resulted in the formation of the “strategic sharing” working group, an ad hoc board committee made up of trustees and administrative staff that has spent the summer and fall looking at how Linden can gather, value, preserve, and share the stories that resonate with our immediate and broader communities. This work, which includes outreach that’s being carefully scheduled with a view to the many operational imperatives that take precedence during the COVID-19 pandemic, will continue into the winter term.
As part of this initiative, the “strategic sharing” committee is currently working on writing and illustrating an engaging and informative version of the 2020-2022 formal written strategic plan to be shared with the community and displayed on the school website.
Upcoming plan highlights
- We know from personal and collective experiences that Linden’s unique approach to girl-centred education improves learning and developmental outcomes for students. By evolving our feminist pedagogy and practice, and supporting the teachers at the heart of that work, the school can continue to improve on how we educate girls.
- By measuring the impact of our educational and community practices, we can prove that Linden works.
- Finally, by driving our message, we can share with the world just what makes The Linden School so special and effective.