Big Idea: A school narrative is an important element of the school’s vision that encompasses values, vision, purpose, pedagogy, relationships, and more. It communicates to your school community and broader stakeholders: Who are we? What are we about? Where are we going? All schools have stories that are told about them. Defining a narrative lets you tell the most important story.

Simplexity: Conveying complexity in simplified ways. Identify a small number of core principles that are the essence of your community, easy to remember and internalize (the simple part); design your strategy to operationalize these core principles and make them part of fabric of your school community & culture (the complex part).
More on Simplexity

Driving Questions:
What should the essential elements of our school community and culture be that will define the school in its earliest days, and hopefully endure as the school establishes and matures?
What do we want to be unique about our school?
What do we want stakeholders to know about our school and programs?
How do we want to communicate these essential elements, and what heuristics might enable internalization?
Who are the stakeholders and what do they need to know?

Deliverables: A concise, focused narrative sharing the guiding principles of our school community, pedagogy, and purpose.
Action items that support the driving principles of the school program for critique and revision with stakeholders.


Larry Rosenstock of High Tech High on Creating a New School Narrative

What is a School Narrative? What should it include? Looking at Exemplars:

PMV – Purpose Mission & Vision

What are the values that you wish to bring to your school?
What are your sources of inspiration in education? Beyond education?
What assumptions are you making about the role of school, teaching, administrating in the 21st Century?
Imagine your school 10 years from now… What should it be known for? How will you describe the culture?
If you could only select one initiative/growth area for your staff in year 1, what would it be? Year 2? 3?
What are the big “How Might We’s” prior to staffing? prior to opening? in year 1?

The Word Parfait 

In what way(s) do you want to convey your school’s most important messages?
Simon Sinek Start with Why: abbreviated // full length
Guiding Principles/Value Statements/Foundational Beliefs
Mission & Vision
Goals & Strategies
Logos & Slogans


Map your stakeholders.
Create a Visual Learning Journey to map out the engagements & points of connection with the various members of your community.
What will they experience? How will they reflect on these experiences meaningfully?