Presentation on theme: "Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division"— Presentation transcript:
1 Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division Anthony Muhammad, Ph.D.
2 The Task at Hand“If schools are to be transformed into learning communities, educators must be prepared first of all to acknowledge that the traditional guiding model of education is no longer relevant in a post-industrial, knowledge-based society. Second, they must embrace ideas and assumptions that are radically different than those that have guided schools in the past.”DuFour & Eaker, Professional LearningCommunities at Work (1998), p. 34
4 Educational technology Support classes Technical ChangeTechnical changes are changes in learning tools/structureCollaborative timeCommon assessmentsNorms and ProtocolEducational technologySupport classes
5 Common Misconceptions About Technical Changes Changing the structure will lead to higher levels of productivity (Rearranging the seats on the Titanic)Technical changes can make up for low capacity or unprofessionalismTechnical changes will “fix” kids or schools that are broken (i.e., dress codes, longer school day)
6 Cultural Change“Structural change that is not supported by cultural change will eventually be overwhelmed by the culture, for it is in the culture that any organization finds meaning and stability.”Schlechty, Shaking Up the Schoolhouse:How to Support and Sustain Educational Innovation(2001), p. 52
7 School Culture“School culture is the set of norms, values, and beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, symbols and stories that make up the ‘persona’ of the school”Peterson(2002), Is Your School Culture toxic or positive? Education World (6)2
8 “Healthy” School Culture “Educators have an unwavering belief in the ability of all of their students to achieve success, and they pass that belief on to others in overt and covert ways. Educators create policies and procedures and adopt practices that support their belief in the ability of every student.”Peterson(2002), Is Your School Culture toxic or positive? Education World (6)2
9 “Toxic” School Culture “Educators believe that student success is based upon students’ level of concern, attentiveness, prior knowledge, and willingness to comply with the demands of the school, and they articulate that belief in overt and covert ways. Educators create policies and procedures and adopt practices that support their belief in the impossibility of universal achievement.”Peterson(2002), Is Your School Culture toxic or positive? Education World (6)2
10 Good to Great, Jim Collins What do great corporations/organizations do differently than good/average organizations?They seek and find the “brutal facts”They get the right people on the “bus” and sit them in the “right seats”
11 The QuandaryTweenersBelieversSurvivorsFundamentalists
12 Success for Each Student BelieversObjective:Success for Each Student
13 The Believers Very intrinsically motivated Flexibility with students (academically and behaviorally)Mission driven/connection to school or communityWilling to confront negative talk and attitudes towards childrenVaried levels of pedagogical skill
14 To Find Role Within the Organization TweenersObjective:To Find Role Within the Organization
15 The Tweeners Loosely-coupled with the school mission Enthusiastic about the idealistic nature of school, but have not quite hit the tipping pointThey stay out of school and district politicsFollows instructions as given by administration (considered “good” teachers)One extreme experience (Moment of Truth) can swing them to be a believer or a fundamentalist
17 SurvivorsOverwhelming nature of the job or life has caused clinical depression (Burnout)No political or organizational aspirationsCreate subcontracts with student to broker a “cease-fire” agreementLittle to no professional practice is evidentAll members of the organization agree that they do not belong in the professionRemoval and treatment is the only possible remedy
18 Maintain Status Quo (Leave Me Alone!) FundamentalistsObjective:Maintain Status Quo(Leave Me Alone!)
19 Apprenticeship of Observation Educators have been socialized in their field since childhood and adopt the normsThe average educator was a good studentEducators subconsciously protect a system that was of personal benefitEducators implement practices that protect the system (academic obstacle course)(Lortie, Schoolteacher: A Sociological Study, 1975)I assume that this information is a paraphrase from a book. Please let me know if this is so.Also, we need the title of the work.
20 Fundamentalists Believe not all children can learn (Social Darwinists) Believe that school reform is a waste of timeBelieve in autonomy and academic freedomOrganize to resist threat(s) to status quoBelieve that gaps in learning are solely due to outside forces (students, parents, administration)Have varied levels of pedagogical skills
21 Methods: The Three “D’s” DefamationDisruptionDistraction
22 Control of Language Focus on problem and problem solving BelieversFundamentalistsFocus on problem and problem solvingPragmatic discussions stay within the locus of controlFocus on personal affect of the problem and constant, emotionally-charged description of the problemEmotional discussions lie outside of the locus of control
23 Believers The Real Difference Fundamentalists Goal: Success for Every StudentAccepts that change (the right change) is necessary to improve student performanceStudent interest is more important that personal interest (Public Servant)Goal: Maintain Status QuoRejects any substantive change if it clashes with personal agendaSelf-interest is more important than student interest (Self Servant)
24 The Current State of School Reform The Clash(need for stability/predictability)Fundamentalists(need to change to meet organizational goals)School ImprovementStalemate
25 The Problem of Our Time?“Money alone will not fix our struggling schools. The issue of adult dysfunction, at every level, must be addressed and fixed before we can truly have a new American public school.”Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of EducationCody High School, Detroit, MIMay 16, 2009
26 A Call to Action“Education is too critical to our society for leaders to allow it to be hijacked by a group of individuals who refuse to embrace substantive change, even in the face of compelling evidence. School leaders and Believers have to become more active and vocal and meet this challenge of overcoming fundamentalism head on.”A. Muhammad, Transforming School Culture, 2009, pg. 81
27 What’s Next? Is Change Necessary? “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?” – Albert Einstein
29 Fundamentalist Change Is Not Easy “Drop Your Tools” ResearchPeople persist when they are given no clear reason to changePeople persist when they do not trust the person who tells them to changePeople persist when they view the alternative as more frighteningTo change may mean admitting failure(Maclean, Young Men and Fire, 1992)
30 Level 1 – Make a clear case for change How do we respond?Level 1 – Make a clear case for changeLevel 2 – Develop relationships, do not ostracizeLevel 3 – Increase capacity and consider the contextLevel 4 – Monitor Strongly
31 Behavior not People!If you answered yes to any of the aforementioned questions, you have behaved in a Fundamentalist manner in the past.The focus in transforming culture is on changing behavior, not getting rid of people.To “Transform” is different than to “Inform”
32 Leadership at Every Level Healthy School CultureTeacherLeadershipBuildingDistrictState and Federal
33 Creating Healthy Cultures: Everyone Has a Role Micro (Colleagues)Macro (Leadership)Control the language of the informal cultureRemove emotional tone from informal interactionsFocus peers on mission and problem solvingDevelop and maintain healthy organizational visionDevelop and maintain healthy policies, practices, and proceduresInstitutionalize organizational health
34 Hard Fact #1Schools are institutions created for the purpose of educating children, not for adult employment.
35 Hard Fact #2Educators are Public Servants, no different than police officers or fire fighters.
36 Hard Fact #3If schools are going to improve, the issue of Fundamentalism and inordinate self-interest is going to have to be effectively addressed.
37 Purpose“The best case for public education has always been that it is a common good. Everyone ultimately has a stake in the caliber of schools, and education is everyone’s business.”Michael Fullan, The Moral Imperative of School Leadership (2003)
38 Let Us Not Forget!“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”U.S. Declaration of Independence