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Visioning Onward

Visioning Onward
A Guide for All Schools

Foreword by Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director of AASA

Additional resources:

May 2020 | 264 pages | Corwin

The step-by-step guide to defining your vision—and making it reality

As a leader, it’s your job to look beyond the present and envision a brighter future for your school. Choosing the right path, however, can be a challenge.

This inspirational resource is your guide. By following its one-of-a-kind iterative visioning process, you’ll sharpen your vision into a road map for transformative change—tailored to the needs of your learning community. Features include: 

  • Key strategies and tools for building a shared vision
  • Practical implementation ideas
  • Case studies from exemplary schools
  • Common trends at the heart of impactful, positive change
  • Thought-provoking vignettes 

Turn vision into reality, possibilities into plans, and create an environment that strengthens engagement, provides safe and nurturing learning opportunities, and produces students with the skills, knowledge, and disposition to be successful in life.

List of Online Resources
Foreword by Daniel A. Domenech
About the Authors
1. The Art of Seeing
How Leaders of Learning Transition From Believing It to Seeing It

Visioning Onward: Preparing for Challenges

What Is the Role of Schools Today?

The Opportunity That Is Opening for Schools

Why Visioning?

The Powerful Impact of Visioning

Visioning—Permission to Thrive and Change

Some Additional Considerations—In the Long Term

Conclusions—Visions and Our Day-to-Day Reality

2. Believe It to See It: Creating a Vision
Ancient Visions—Burning Cities and Prophecies

Visioning in Modern Times—Dewey to Today

Is Visioning Still Relevant in 2020?

Why Do We Encourage Schools to Embrace Visioning?

Visioning—One Secret of Uncommon Leadership

It Takes a Team

Community Building: How Much Involvement Do You Anticipate?

Factors to Consider for Visioning at Your School or District

How Do Visions Relate to a School’s Purpose?

Visioning and ESSA

Visioning in Schools—Opportunities Today to Recreate Education

Where Is Your School (Or District) Headed?

Conclusions—Visioning in a Time of Uncertainty and Implications for Schools

3. 21st Century Concerns—Food for Thought
Dreams, Visioning Onward, and Changes in Schools

Do Visions Make a Difference?

Five Great Companies

Comparing Visions

Visions as Disruptions

Visions, Missions, and Successful Ventures

How Innovations Have Disrupted Our Lives

Visioning—Various Lenses

Holistic Understanding

Group Effort

Knowledge and Values

Visions That Incorporate Many Perspectives

Visioning Is Not Missioning

Visioning Onward for School Improvement

Dreams, Visioning Onward, and Changes in Schools

Conclusions—Collectively Visioning Outside the Box

4. Visioning: Steps 1–4
Doing the Work

So How Will You Proceed With Visioning at Your School?

Some Prerequisites—Biding Time, Building Trust

An Example of Where Visions Might Take You—Green Schools

Visioning—Light-Years Beyond Ordinary (Path 1)

Another Need—Visioning to Handle a Crisis (Path 2)

Considerations for the Visioning Process

A Recommended Eight-Step Visioning Process

Step 1—Form a Vision Steering Team, and Develop a Visioning Process Blueprint

Before the Visioning Process Begins

Step 2—Identify Participants for the Visioning Process

Step 3—Develop the First Draft of Your Vision, and Imagine Your School the Way You Would Like It to Be

Step 4—Research Exemplars and Options

Conclusions—Borrowing From the Greats

Resources and Ideas to Support the How of Visioning

Iterative Visioning

5. Visioning Case Study
The Opening of a New School—Upper Providence Elementary School (UPES)

Visioning Questions for UPES

Key Questions for Parents

Thirteen Years Later—Refreshing Our Vision

Staf-faculty Focus Group Questions


Pro-Social Pledge

An Existing School With New Leadership at Spring City Elementary School

Spring City Staff Entry Plan Questions

Vision Questions for Spring City Staff

Conclusions—Collaboration Is Key

6. Visioning Steps 5–8
Steps 5–8

Step 5—Refine Your Vision Using an Iterative Visioning Process

Step 6—Develop Mission and Goal Statements, and Determine How to Measure Progress

Mission Statements and the Strategic Planning Process


Measuring Progress

Step 7—Secure Consensus. Ensure That You Are Communicating With Those Who Didn’t Participate or Who Have a Different Vision

Step 8—Develop an Action Plan to Implement Your Vision

How to Develop an Action Plan

Conclusions—Developing an Action Plan as a Team

7. Barriers and Sustainability
Vision, Mission, and Goals—Implementation

Lead the Visioning Journey

Obstacles on the Path

What Processes Will Be Affected?

Challenges in Implementing Heart Centered Learning

Promoting Heart Centered Learning

Implementing Visions Requires Change

You’re Not Operating in a Vacuum


Focus, Priorities, and Goal Setting

When Leadership Changes

Conclusions—Leveraging Communities Near and Far to Overcome Barriers to Sustainability

8. Future Visioning—Here and Across the Globe
Trends in Education Affecting How Schools Operate

Change and Its Drivers

Technology and Our Way of Being and Doing

Unwanted Side Effects of Too Much Technology

Change Driver 1—Automating Choices

Change Driver 2—Civic Superpowers

Change Driver 3—Accelerating Brains

Mindfulness and Executive Functioning

Change Driver 4—Toxic Narratives


The Future of Employment

Change Driver 5—Remaking Geographies

Change Driver 6—Social Emotional and Heart Centered Learning

Heart Centered Learning

Implementing Heart Centered Learning

International Concerns and Children’s Well-Being

An Entrepreneurial Vision for Education on a Global Scale

9. Conclusion
Leadership for Tomorrow



Visioning Onward is the right book for any leader who aims to be a visionary champion for their school or organization and bring about transformational change. Co-authors Christine Mason, Paul Liabe­now, and Melissa Patschke challenge readers through a series of critical questions, activities, examples, resources, and authentic voices to help us establish a sense of purpose in the way we lead and learn on a daily basis. Each chapter reminds us that it is more than just seeing the vision but doing the work in a way that helps us achieve that vision. This book provides a blueprint to do just that.

Jimmy Casas
Educator, Author, Speaker, Leadership Coach

Visioning Onward outlines the process and action steps for school leaders to create, share, and implement their vision for a school rather than adopting or adapting someone else’s vision. This practical guide is a must-read for all school leaders interested in creating and sustain­ing a school culture that continues to thrive and responds to changing times and one in which its stakeholders grow. The processes outlined in the book along with the case study examples make this a desk reference for every principal.

Paul M. Healey
Executive Director, PA Principals Association

After reading Visioning Onward, I feel inspired and compelled to share the thoughtful approach to building a collaborative shared vision with colleagues and graduate students. An essential for every principal’s desk, this is a practical, purposeful, and action-oriented guide for leaders. Embedded in the context of the book are valuable resources, exercises, and vignettes to aid leadership teams in devel­oping a vision that is encouraging, innovative, and empathetic.

Robyn Conrad Hansen
NAU Assistant Professor of Practice, National Distinguished Principal, NAESP President 2015-2016

The most successful leaders don’t get to where they are by accident. They are strategic, purposeful, and visionary. Do you want these characteristics in your repertoire of leadership qualities? Then, grab a cup of coffee and a highlighter, and dig in to this invaluable resource. These three brilliant educators have built a step-by-step process to build, plan, and execute your vision. You won’t be disappointed.

Adam D. Drummond
Author and Thought Leader with the International Center for Leadership in Education

What a well-conceived book that recognizes how an organized approach to developing a school’s vision will work! The authors emphasize the need to allow each school team the freedom to design their own vision. The value of a school’s shared vision is stressed, and a systematic process is explained in detail.

Visioning Onward demonstrates the critical need for each stakehold­er’s voice and the importance this voice is to the acceptance of the developing vision. Included in the book are the potential barriers and a process to ensure sustainability. The authors have devoted an enor­mous amount of time collecting and creating a wealth of resources, examples, and exemplars. As a career veteran in public education and school leadership, I wish I could have read this before my first prin­cipalship! This book is truly an excellent resource.

Rich Barbacane
Office of Overseas Schools, RavenTek, State Department Liaison for NAESP, Co-Originator of the World Education Forum, USA, Past President of NAESP

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

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