Friday, January 14, 2011

The Power of a Vision Map

by Jan Shoop
It’s January and the first day back after the holiday break. As in past years, the teachers meet with all the high school students. The goal is to help students focus in on their academic goals for the remainder of the year and to review their life goals. The students regain focus and spend time teambuilding. One of the key activities is creating a vision map. Vision maps are very powerful visual representation of goals, visions, desires and hopes.

If you’ve never created a vision map it works something like this:  Gather up several magazines, scissors, glue and a post board. Find a quiet place to work for around 30 to 60 minutes. Go through each magazine turning the pages and see if anything jumps out at you. If it does tear out the page and put it in a stack on the side. Spend about 15 minutes on this activity of turning and tearing out pages. Don’t be to analytical, just enjoy the process and see what happens. After you have a stack of torn out pages stop and get out your glue and scissors. Cut and arrange the pictures in a way that has meaning to you. The goal is to create a collage of dreams, aspirations and visions. Place the completed vision map in a prominent place and watch what happens.

The next morning during our Opening Activities I asked all of the students to research a simple question. The first student who got to my office with the correct answer would win a prize. I finished Opening Activities and headed for my office, before I could even sit down one student was knocking on my office door.

Several months before one of our supporters had donated a number of inexpensive, but nice watches and I still had a few. So I had decided to give a watch to the winner. The first student in my office was one of the older high school students. John lived with his parents and several siblings. His older sister had already graduated with us and a younger brother was in 2nd grade at the school. The family seemed to have a new address every week or so. They lived in rundown houses, old trailers and in ramshackle apartments. Even though John’s family life was challenging and his belongings sparse he was an excellent student and very motivated to succeed at school and in life. John came into my office and proudly gave the correct answer to my question. I congratulated John and reached into my desk drawer awarding him the watch. John carefully opened the box and almost dropped the watch as he was so excited and surprised. He just kind of stood there in shock. I asked John if he was OK, and then he proceeded to tell me an amazing story. John said that he had always wanted a watch, but that his family had never been able to afford to buy him one, so he had decided yesterday that he would put a picture of a watch on his vision map. John looked through all of the magazines and had almost given up when he found the perfect photograph of a watch. And now today John was holding in his hands an exact replica of the watch from his vision map! I took a deep breath realizing the magnitude of the moment. Then I congratulated John, gave him a hug and sent him back to class. I sat in my quiet office and gave thanks. And I realized that this was a perfect example of the power of a vision map.