As the educational landscape expands and evolves, independent schools face a wide range of realities and challenges that require schools to be responsive while remaining aligned with their mission and vision. Finding balance between the flexibility of responsiveness to outside forces and the more set vision and mission-driven goals of a school means building a strong understanding of a school’s identity, thinking intentionally and analytically about the existing needs, and imagining, predicting and planning for the yet-to-be discovered possibilities of the future. The NWAIS Futurest Fellows considered the following question: How might we reimagine our current schools so that we sustain, flourish and thrive into the future?
We wondered if the structures of reflective practice, and in particular the idea of “reflection for action,” suggested by Killion and Todnem in 1991, might offer an opportunity to support schools in their pursuit of intentional innovation and school growth and evolution. Reflection is often times understood as a reactionary task; a way to revisit the past or become aware of the metacognitive process one is experiencing in the moment.
Reflection for action however, is more proactive as it guides future action and supports decision-making that is rational, considers and weighs alternative possibilities, and employs criteria to select a given option or course of action (Reagan, Case, & Brubacher, 2000). What we offer to you is a framework that supports intentional innovation and risk-taking in schools. It provides a thinking structure to facilitate collaborative design, dialogue and analysis, while recognizing that no single set of strategies or techniques can work for all schools or in all circumstances.