Start Strong in your Strategic Planning:

Gathering Essential Input


The Foundation of an Effective Planning Process

How do you build a strong foundation for your strategic plan that ensures success?
How do you engage your team to invest in the formation of the plan and provide their own unique perspectives?
Can your strategic plan empower your team to use shared goals as a means toward achieving continuous improvement?

A thoughtfully executed strategic planning process will help your team develop and implement a cohesive, data-driven improvement plan that will make your organization more united and more effective. We advise approaching this work with flexibility, tailoring the plan to directly fit the needs of your organization.

In this post, we’ll outline best practices to kick off strategic planning through the all-too-important process of gathering input.

Let’s dive in!


A Comprehensive Approach to Gathering Input

The input-gathering phase will provide key insights into your organization’s current state. We recommend using a variety of methods for gathering input including reviewing documents, conducting surveys, and hosting interviews and/or focus groups. (A school quality review can encompass many of these evidence collection activities.) Ultimately, the information surfaced by your team during the input-gathering phase will help create the shape and structure of the resulting strategic plan.


What Documents Should Your Team Collect and Analyze?

Some of the relevant documents to review during the input phase can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Any former strategic plans
  • Mission statements and vision statements
  • School-level improvement plans
  • Teacher retention data
  • Student achievement data
  • Sample curricular documents
  • Professional development plans


Gathering Insight Via Focus Groups and Interviews

Focus groups and interviews are additional input-gathering methods that can help school teams surface strengths and areas of need. We recommend gathering additional input from a range of stakeholders, typically including:

  • District or Network Leaders
  • School Leaders & Administrators
  • Teachers
  • Support Staff
  • School Board Members
  • Parents/Guardians
  • Students
  • Community Members & Partners

Including a wide range of stakeholders in the input phase ensures that the resulting plan is reflective of your broader school community. During focus groups, it is best to use interview questions to guide participants. Framing the questions according to defined priorities will aid the process.


Conducting Surveys

Some stakeholders, especially members of your organization’s planning team, could be asked to complete a brief survey regarding your organization’s priorities. We recommend asking stakeholders to identify the organization’s strengths, areas of need, and opportunities for growth. Surveys may also be used to gather feedback about existing programs and initiatives.


Involving Your School Community

There are numerous benefits to putting in the time and effort to gather a wide range of input from stakeholders during the planning process:

More Stakeholder Buy-In: Stakeholders who participate in the process tend to be more likely to support the plan.

Enhanced Accuracy: Varied perspectives provide a more accurate understanding of the organization’s current state and needs.

Heightened Creativity and Innovation: Stakeholders may share unique ideas that ultimately contribute to the organization’s growth and success.

All these reasons can lead to more innovative and creative solutions, ultimately resulting in a more actionable, effective plan that all stakeholders will support.


Strategic Planning with SchoolWorks

Curious to know more about SchoolWorks’ approach to strategic planning? Read through the case studies from our partnerships with Finn Academy and Achievement Prep.

For a personal consultation, reach out to our team. We always tailor every offering and service to each client’s unique needs. Whether you have an idea of what we can do to help your organization or you’ve no idea where to begin, we are here to help.


Leave a Comment

Introducing SchoolWorks Charter Application Bootcamp!

Thinking of launching a charter school? Not sure where to begin? Check out our new online course, brought to you by the trusted experts at SchoolWorks.