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Changing School Culture

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Presentation on theme: "Changing School Culture"— Presentation transcript:

1 Changing School Culture
Shayne Goodrum, Ph.D Sherry Ward,

2 Today we will Share some research-based understandings about how school culture impacts student success Share steps for changing a school’s culture Share 2 tools school leaders can use to surface culture issues to start the change process WELCOME Presenter introductions 3 minutes to briefly have table introductions in preparation for group interactions

3 Defining School Culture
The shared beliefs and values of a school What people agree is true and right Pragmatic definition: Culture, ethos, values, mission, norms, paradigm, feel, atmosphere, character, essence, spirit, soul………… Culture as seen by Edgar Schein, an MIT School of Management professor and one of the world’s leading thinkers on organizational culture, is simply: The things that we agree are true; and The things we agree are right. The important word in this definition is “agree”. Culture is about shared values and beliefs.

4 However -- These beliefs become entrenched and can persist after changes in the school’s environment render them irrelevant or harmful Therefore – culture is both a resource and a risk.

5 . . . school culture is the ultimate ceiling on our ability to transform our school and raise standards. Other initiatives, whether focusing on teaching strategies, leadership development, structure, team work or collaboration are wasted, doomed to deliver a fraction of their potential, without the right cultural supports.” p. 6, “A Culture for Learning”

6 The most successful schools have cultures that
Have the highest ambitions for each student Put the welfare of students ahead of the comfort of staff Held teachers accountable to the whole school; reduce professional autonomy Promote teamwork and learning from each other Are intolerant of failure and excuses from staff Value service delivery Question: Is there a set of values – a type of culture – associated with successful and improving schools?

7 Culture is transmitted through
Informal and less conscious channels Rites and rituals of school life

8 Behavior Generated by Culture
Operational: tasks of running a school or teaching (e.g. the way we divide our attention to students in a lesson) Reinforcing: actions that communicate and reinforce our actions and beliefs (e.g. rites of passage for a new staff member at a school Sometimes we think of culture as being behavior – including the recurrent norms of behavior summarized as ‘the way we do things’ – but instead, behavior is a product of culture in contact with the environment.

9 Reinforcing Behaviors
Rituals: celebrations, ceremonies, shared mannerisms Hero Making: role models, hierarchies, mentors, scapegoats Storytelling: shared humor, common anecdotes, oral and written history Symbolic Displays: decoration, trophies Rules: etiquette, taboos, tacit permissions

10 Surface Reinforcing Behaviors
Your biggest celebration this year-what did you celebrate? Who is the most respected person in the school?-Why is that person so highly respected? Please name The first thing you notice in the school reception area Something that commonly happens in other schools that could never happen in your school The behavior in an adult that is most frowned upon Something that people regularly ‘get away with’ (things you know are wrong but still do – e.g. late for meetings) Something that people worry about a great deal ACTIVITY #1: Convert to activity sheet What is the first thing you see in the entrance of your school? How much emphasis do school place on events other than academic achievement? What should be the non-negotiables? Brief feedback from the group (s). 15 minutes to answer questions ? 15 minutes to feedback by group ?

11 Culture changes Is difficult through traditional, top-down managerial techniques

12 “Dynamic processes of culture creation and management are the essence of leadership and make one realize that leadership and culture are two sides of the same coin.” Edgar Schein What does this mean? Take 3 minutes to discuss at your table.

13 Culture may be a challenge if. . .
Values and beliefs are no longer suited to the challenges the school faces You encounter repeated resistance to sensible and necessary changes You have a nagging doubt that the school is not reaching its full potential There is conflict, poor communication, vocal disagreements Lack of a sense of identity Culture is so precious and valued that opportunities are lost

14 Steps to Changing Culture
Create a crisis of faith to look with new eyes at the world around you and generate some tentative theories. Compare these lessons to those implicit in both your aspirations for the school and in your current behaviors and activities. Create a consensus in terms of aspirations that not only addresses the gaps but also builds on current strengths.

15 Steps to Changing Culture
Analyze the modes through which culture is communicated – formal and informal, conscious and unconscious– and adapt them to your new direction. Create cultural capacity– a particular way of working in school which balances the need to create a strong shared identity with the need to constantly adapt and grow.

16 Activity: Culture Sort Activity
30 statement about possible values and beliefs in a school based on research In groups of 3-10, sort in order of priority using the diamond grid as a template Sort once with groups coming to consensus about the ideal Then sort again about the actual state in the school Build professional discussion about the gaps ACTIVITY #2: Culture Sort 30 statement about possible values and beliefs in a school based on research In groups of 3-10, sort in order of priority using the diamond grid as a template Sort once with groups coming to consensus about the ideal Then sort again about the actual state in the school Build professional discussion about the gaps 30 minutes

17 The Thirty Statements Group people according to looking at their individual schools-Complete the activity 1- the school as it is

18 Focus on the Highs and Lows
Top Rows – those values for which other parts of the culture will be sacrificed Bottom row – What might be overlooked and lost

19 “I recognized the culture my colleagues described
“I recognized the culture my colleagues described. I admired the culture they said they wanted. I just wish they weren’t so far apart.”

20 Lessons and Theories Embedded in the Culture of Successful Schools -
Lessons and Theories Embedded in the Culture of Successful Schools - Read – Discuss - Select Cultural change does not occur overnight. We joke about how do your eat an elephant and the response is “One bite at a time.” A small step to moving your culture forward will be the identification of your areas for improvement. Read page 48, briefly discuss at your table and select 3 things that you can take back to your school as an area for improvement. 10 minutes

21 Helps along the way Chapter 6 - pp Activities for each step of the cultural change process

22 Transforming School Cultures
Six key strategies to develop collaborative school cultures: Strengthen the school’s culture Stimulate and reinforce cultural change through structured collaboration Foster staff development Encourage direct and frequent communication about cultural norms values, and beliefs, resulting in shared vision Develop leaders at all levels Empower staff, give autonomy, build trust

23 Feedback on today and close
What went well? Even better if … Close the day with thanks to all participants) Collect the feedback forms 23

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