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The Culture of Schools: Building Positive and Transforming Toxic Cultures 2008 Dr. Kent D. Peterson University of Wisconsin-Madison 1025 W. Johnson Street.

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Presentation on theme: "The Culture of Schools: Building Positive and Transforming Toxic Cultures 2008 Dr. Kent D. Peterson University of Wisconsin-Madison 1025 W. Johnson Street."— Presentation transcript:

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2 The Culture of Schools: Building Positive and Transforming Toxic Cultures 2008 Dr. Kent D. Peterson University of Wisconsin-Madison 1025 W. Johnson Street Madison, WI

3 Culture and Effectiveness “At a deeper level, all organizations, especially schools, improve performance by fostering a shared system of norms folkways, values, and traditions. These infuse the enterprise with passion, purpose, and a sense of spirit. Without a strong, positive culture, schools flounder and die.” (Peterson and Deal, 2002, p. 7)

4 “Effective leaders know that the hard work of reculturing is the sine qua non of progress.” (Fullan, 2001, p.44).

5 Culture is a Powerful Force School culture influences how people think, feel, and act. Culture is a key determinant of staff focus, commitment, motivation, and productivity.

6 Key Roles of Cultural Leaders READ the Culture Historian and Anthropologist ASSESS the Culture Analyst and Evaluator REINFORCE or TRANSFORM the Culture Visionary, Symbol, Potter, Poet, Actor, and Healer (Deal and Peterson, 1994; 1999)

7 Elements of Culture Norms, Values and Beliefs that underlie thinking, feeling and acting Symbols and Artifacts that Communicate Meaning Stories that Herald Values Cultural Network Heroes and Heroines Rituals, Traditions, and Ceremonies “Culture is “the way we do things around here!”

8 Elements of Toxic Cultures Negative Values and beliefs hold sway in toxic cultures. Sense of purpose is spiritually fragmented. Relationships are negative and destructive. The cultural network’s most powerful members negaholics (Carter-Scott, 1989) The only heroes are anti-heroic. Few positive rituals, traditions, or ceremonies exist to develop a sense of community and hopefulness. Deal and Peterson (1999).

9 Three Key Questions on Values What makes a good day? What makes a good week? What makes a good year?

10 Typical Informal Network GossipsGossips Spies, Counterspies, MolesSpies, Counterspies, Moles StorytellersStorytellers Heroes and heroinesHeroes and heroines “ Keepers of the Dream ““ Keepers of the Dream “

11 Toxic Informal Network Saboteurs Pessimistic Storytellers “Keepers of the Nightmare” Negaholics Prima Donnas-Prima Donalds Space Cadets Martyrs Deadwood, Driftwood, Ballast Resource Vultures

12 Working with your INFORMAL NETWORK How can you best use your positive members? How can you help members change? How can you protect the culture from toxins?

13 Symbols and Artifacts in the School Communicate values Reinforce culture Build success through commitment Symbolize the mission

14 What are key SYMBOLS in your School? What do the symbols communicate? How does your daily work symbolize what you consider important? How do the symbols connect to students and parents?

15 Ways of Reading Your Culture... List Six Adjectives to describe your school.List Six Adjectives to describe your school. Think of a song that depicts your culture.Think of a song that depicts your culture. Create a metaphor… If my school were an animal, it would be a _______ because_________________________.Create a metaphor… If my school were an animal, it would be a _______ because_________________________. Conduct a school history.Conduct a school history. Interview a school’s storytellers.Interview a school’s storytellers. Look at how newcomers are welcomed?Look at how newcomers are welcomed?

16 The Importance of Ceremonies and Celebrations Reinforce Values Build Culture and Community Recharge Motivation Communicate Purpose Celebrate Success

17 Types of Celebrations Beginning of Year Fall Solstice Ethnic Events Battle Preparations Retirements End-of-Year Large and Small Successes

18 Map Your Ceremonies and Celebrations Over the Year * Opening to Closing of School*

19 Celebrations that Sputter or Fail Lack of Purpose No Energy or Spirit Inappropriate Words or Stories Unpopular Symbols Meaningless Rituals Negative Meanings Poor Planning Dispirited Activities

20 Elements of Ceremonies Banners, Flags Processionals Speeches Clothing and Location Symbols and Artifacts Special Visitors Symbolic Rituals Songs and Music Mottos, Slogans, Recitations Food and Drink

21 Redesign Key Celebrations End of school Opening School with Staff End of Winter Break Retirements Special Awards

22 Culture Shaping Roles Anthropologist Historian Visionary Symbol Potter Poet Actor Healer (Deal and Peterson, 1999)

23 "Becoming a leader is a lot like investing successfully in the stock market. If your hope is to make a fortune in one day, you're not going to be successful." John C. Maxwell

24 “Teachers usually have no way of knowing that they have made a difference in a child’s life, even when they have made a dramatic one… Good teachers put snags in the river of children passing by, and, over the years, they redirect hundreds of lives… [Great schools are] made up of people who can never really know the good they have done.” Kidder (1989): Among Schoolchildren

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26 Resources and Research

27 Research on Organizational Culture Effective Schools Research (Edmonds) School Reform Literature (Fullan) Professional Learning Communities (DuFour) Good to Great (Collins) Balanced Leadership (Marzano et al) Execution (Bossidy et al)

28 Elements of Positive, Successful Cultures a mission focused on student and teacher learning a rich sense of history and purpose core values of collegiality, performance, and improvement that engender quality, achievement, and learning for everyone positive beliefs and assumptions about the potential of students and staff to learn and grow a strong professional community that uses knowledge, experience, and research to improve practice an informal network that fosters positive communication flows leadership that balances continuity and improvement rituals and ceremonies that reinforce core cultural values stories that celebrate successes and recognize heroines and heroes a physical environment that symbolizes joy and pride a widely shared sense of respect and caring for everyone Source: Shaping School Culture: The Heart of Leadership (1999). Terrence Deal and Kent Peterson, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


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