What is Your Vision of Success?

Picture it. It’s the end of the year/summer/Birthright trip/whatever educational experience you’re curating. Everything is coming to a close - you’ve expertly executed the activities, the learners have participated enthusiastically, and have been moved and impacted by the experience. You’re ready to shake off the magic of the encounter and move on to your next project, and your learners are going off on to their next steps as well.

What are they taking with them? Who are your students at the end of your time together?

In the classic leadership book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey names Habit #2 as beginning with the end in mind. In order to know if we’ve been successful in our efforts, we need to envision what they are from the very beginning. And for educators, success is found in our students, and the impact that we’ve made on them through our work. So, today I invite you to join me in an exercise to identify the ideal outcomes for our learners so we can chart the course to success.

Who is your ideal learner? Who are they when you’ve done your job well?

Step 1: Gather your materials - paper + writing utensils of your choice

Step 2: Draw (or use a stick figure printable - no shame!) a person’s body

Step 3: Take a deep breath. And remember, it’s the end of the Shabbaton/semester/summer/year. You’ve done your job well, and your students are going on to their next steps. With that perspective in mind, envision them, and draw/write your answers to the following prompts on your stick figure.

  • On their eyes, write or draw something that represents the role that Judaism plays in their lives. How do they see their Jewish identities?

  • On their head, write or draw something that represents how Judaism and being Jewish influences the choices that they make. How does Judaism factor into their decision-making?

  • On their mouth, write or draw something that represents their beliefs or spiritual practices.

  • On their hands, write or draw something that represents Jewish actions that they participate in. Are they rituals, a regular practice, something personal, or something that brings them into contact with community?

  • On their stomach, write or draw something that represents how they nourish their Jewish identities. What are they doing to continue their Jewish engagement?

  • On their legs, write or draw the next Jewish steps that they will be taking. Where are your alumni heading, either physically or on their internal journeys?

  • On their feet, write or draw something that represents their Jewish roots. What grounds them Jewishly?

  • Above their head, write or draw something that represents their Jewish mission. What are their aspirations or guiding principles?

Step 4: Reflect. Share your ideal learner’s outcomes with your coworkers, and see where your respective visions align, and where they differ. Figure out if there are ways to build on each other’s conceptualizations of success to develop a cohesive mission.

Step 5: Apply the lessons learned in this process! Look at your existing content and activities, and figure out how they align with your vision of success. If things are in sync immediately, you’re golden! But if not, how can you adapt so that your actions support your mission?

What does success look like when you’ve done your job well?

Share in the comments below!