Identifying the Knowledge Gap for Strategic Thinking

Schools are encouraged to review data at the beginning of the school year (preferably in May/June for September but not everyone can be so lucky…we can talk about that another time). Very often, I see schools hesitating or struggling to find the time to do so. While we consider what we want the school year to look like, it is imperative that leaders and their leadership teams identify the knowledge gap for both students and teachers. The knowledge gap is the lack of skills, concepts, and understanding needed for individuals to reach the vision. For instance, a school may want to move into student project-based learning. The knowledge gap for teachers could consist of curriculum writing, unit planning, lesson planning, orchestrating a lesson to connect to a larger project, classroom management, etc. It is important for leaders to get clear on what it takes to achieve the vision. Then they must determine what the teachers bring to the table and what they need to learn to reach the vision. Finally, leaders need to prioritize and map out the learning so the teachers have time to process, apply, and receive feedback. These are the components of a professional development plan, which is hopefully the core of a strategic plan.