Professional Learning

Directors Retreat Strategic Planning Tools


Leadership retreats can offer occasions for sites to review current programming and to plan for future work. This short resource describes how several planning and review documents - Strategic Action Planning Template, Timeline, and Collaborative Review - used at NWP Directors Retreats have also been useful to local site leadership teams. The strategic planning tools can be used to develop a collective vision to guide the development and evaluation of site programs. The final review doc, a charette protocol, can be used not only to review programming but also to look at writing and discuss interpretations of student work.


Strategic planning, an important process that takes place at local sites, can result in both leadership development, more vibrant site programs, and a more sustainable site. Often, it takes the form of an inquiry into the current work of the site engaging site leaders, program leaders, teacher-consultants, and stakeholder partners.

Strategic planning allows writing project sites to generate a collective vision and set priorities for future development. It can take place in a single meeting, at a weekend visioning retreat, or over a period of several months.

At the Directors Retreat, site leaders (working in teams of two) engage in a collaborative inquiry process, then use the following planning tools to both outline and refine plans for the development of a key piece of work at their local site. The tools are for thinking through and planning an “action” that is part of a larger strategic approach to a site issue or, more generally, to site management. As part of the inquiry into the work of their site, site leaders begin by figuring out a starting place for change or growth, and then use the tools to move forward on one aspect of a larger plan.

The focus could be on creating a new structure, process, or program, or improving an existing structure, process, or program, in order to help the site achieve strategic goals.

Putting the Tools to Use

When sites set out to implement their plans, they are reminded to continue to ask questions of their plan, review its progress, and make necessary changes. It is important also to document the work as the plan is put into action. Over time the plan can become a valuable historical resource that helps guide future strategic planning and mentor new leaders at the site.