“Before I…”: creating a community voice of aspirations

I came across this TED Talk and it made me think about creating an ASPIRATIONS WALL in school. I would suggest changing the initial starter statement so that the whole school community could focus on a REAL, SPECIFIC and ACHIEVABLE GOAL set within a definable timeframe that can be reviewed and reflected upon. In this way, the ASPIRATIONS WALL can…

  1. Come to life as a truly interactive goal-setting tool, used to prompt and document conversations
  2. Become a ‘living conversation’ engaged in by the whole school community
  3. Be a piece of public art by and for the school community (as referred to in the talk) that grows and changes over a limited period of time
  4. Be adapted to connect with whole-school or subject-specific themes
  5. Be a tangible way to communicate, model and reinforce a positive, hopeful and aspirational ethos and culture
  6. Be a channel for the whole school community to value inclusive and supportive  essential learning conversations

Just imagine the power of developing a shared school (or wider) community voice using the STATEMENT/ HOPE/ ASPIRATION wall idea explained and beautifully illustrated in this short TED Talk. With the new year fast approaching and the season of resolutions, promises and future-thinking almost upon us, just imagine the power of creating a PUBLIC and very real physical OR virtual OR mini OR whatever-you-like “HOPES & ASPIRATIONS WALL” for your school community using this simple concept.

Some initial thoughts about creating this as a project…

1. Adapt the starter stems to set the tone you feel is most appropriate:

“Before the end of this/ next term…”

“Before I leave this school…”

“Before the end of this academic year…”

“Before I am 25/ 35/ 45/ 60…”

2. Make it a pop-up art-literacy project and restrict it to appearing for just one or two days or at most a week and then remove it / record it and ‘lock it’, only to revisit it later in the month or year…asking whether the hopes and aspirations were achieved.

3. Make it as big as you want…unloved corridor walls / sides of buildings / tarmac areas ?

4. Make it subject-specific e.g. Encourage statements to be scribed in a particular language / Ask statements to be formed as problems to be solved / Make it a wall of musical phrases to be compiled and connected into an entire composition…

5. Place your wall in unusual and unexpected areas and put it up without announcement and see what happens.

6. Use time lapse recording to film the development of the wall over time, with appropriate notices to alert people that this is what is happening, of course.

7. If not a wall, then be inspired by a Buddhist Prayer Tree…ask students to submit their own aspirations on specifically designed labels and attached to a tree / ladder / appropriate structure – the key is to ensure the aspirations can be read by everybody. It is the public, community and inclusive element of this project that is critical.

8. Open up the wall to members of the local community to join in and contribute their own aspirations…decide the level of anonymity you want to have..you may just have age and gender.

I am sure you’ll have many, many more adaptations and ideas for this. I’d love to know if you already have such a wall and how it works for you and your community.

For me, the power of the ASPIRATIONS WALL can be found in the following elements:

  • Public
  • Inclusive
  • Positive
  • Accessible
  • Temporary
  • Adaptable

NB I would usually upload a TED Talk like this one to the TEDUCATION page of this blog and add some of my reflections on how it can be linked to learning and offering some ideas about projects that might develop as a result, as I have done here.

For a variety of reasons, however, I wanted this particular talk to sit here and take centre-stage for a while. It’s about 6 minutes and I reckon there’s so much potential in adapting this particular  project for our school communities that it warrants its place here.

Watch the Talk and be inspired….let me know what ideas it sparks for you…

One thought on ““Before I…”: creating a community voice of aspirations

  1. Pingback: Happy 2013! « A Bigger Boat

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