Developing a shared purpose

All teacher-powered teams create a shared purpose—consisting of a mission, vision, values, goals, and standards of practice—that is similar to those created by most schools across the country. The overarching goal is educating and preparing students for life and work.

But teacher-powered teams emphasize an important difference in how they use their shared purposes. With responsibility and accountablity for school success, they use their purpose statement as a guide for ongoing, collective dialogue and decisionmaking about how to best meet students’ needs. Their shared purpose isn’t just words someone else wrote.

What will your team’s shared purpose be? How will you use it?


Developing and utilizing shared purposes


Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour, Robert Eaker, and Thomas Many provide useful tools for developing your school’s mission, vision, and values so you can design it around a shared purpose.

Discussion Starters.

Teams starting or improving a teacher-powered school should use this resource to explore how to define their shared purpose, ensure team cohesion around the purpose, and evolve the purpose as the school matures.

Existing teacher-powered teams' use of their shared purpose

Case study.

Mathematics and Science Leadership Academy teachers share the ways in which they align their work with their identified purpose.


Teacher-powered schools create school cultures that reflect teacher teams’ shared purpose. These sections of Trusting Teachers explain how and why.


Jeff Austin, lead teacher at Social Justice Humanitas Academy in Los Angeles, describes how a shared vision helped his team move their idea for a teacher-powered school to a reality.

Sample shared purpose statements and resources from teacher-powered schools

Statement of Purpose.

The team governing Avalon School has a mission to maintain a strong, nurturing community that inspires active learning, engaged citizenship, and hope for the future.

Statement of Purpose.

The Mission Hill K-8 School team of teachers sets out to create a community in which our children and their families can best maintain and nurture democratic habits.

Statement of Purpose.

The team of teachers governing Reiche Community School outlines its values and beliefs in this statement, which compliments the mission and vision of Portland Public Schools.

Statement of Purpose.

The San Francisco Community School team describes how they practice their mission in their school's programs, their teaching methods, and their relationships with students and families.


The team of teachers at San Francisco Community School outline the responsibilities individual teachers must take on in order to demonstrate commitment to the whole team's values. They also clarify what supports teachers will receive to honor their commitments.