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Studying and Shaping Culture as a Key Component for School Improvement West Virginia School Improvement Specialists August 18, 2010 Jerry Valentine Professor.

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Presentation on theme: "Studying and Shaping Culture as a Key Component for School Improvement West Virginia School Improvement Specialists August 18, 2010 Jerry Valentine Professor."— Presentation transcript:

1 Studying and Shaping Culture as a Key Component for School Improvement West Virginia School Improvement Specialists August 18, 2010 Jerry Valentine Professor Emeritus University of Missouri

2 Getting to know each other… brief introductions….

3 Our time together today… School Improvement, School Culture, and School Change (early to mid morning) Student Engagement and Student Achievement (late morning to lunch) Student Engagement and Achievement Strategies (after lunch to early afternoon)

4 In 15 years of working on a weekly basis with academically struggling schools, I have found that the following are usually issues…we will talk about some of these today.

5 Leadership for Change Principal and/or teacher leadership is/are lacking Culture Ambivalent, negative or toxic, but not highly collaborative culture with high expectations Pedagogy Curriculum is aligned but not taught Instructional Practices are archaic (out of tune with current knowledge; neither relevant nor challenging) Engagement in learning is minimal; learning time is not honored; student focus is not high; busy work abounds, and deeper, thoughtful learning occurs infrequently Assessment is OF learning, not FOR learning. Leaders and teachers believe structures and programs make a difference, but they do not understand that… the competence and beliefs of the people, the fidelity with which programs are implemented, and the processes by which they solve problems make the difference.

6 STUDENT Success ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP Principal Administrative Team SI Team Faculty Leadership Student Leadership Parent Leadership Community Leadership District Leadership ORGANIZATIONAL PEDAGOGY Curriculum Instruction Assessment Knowledge of student learning CARING, COLLABORATIVE CULTURE ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES Change Processes Program Delivery Personnel Policies Student Policies Resource Allocation Comprehensive, Systemic School Improvement Components TRUSTING, RESPECTFUL CLIMATE Valentine, 2002

7 Organizational Mission What is our organizations purpose? Knowledge of Best Practice Do we understand best educational practice and systemic change? Organizational Vision What do we want our organization to look like over the next few years? Assess School Action Plan How much of the plan have we accomplished? Baseline Data About Current Practice What do we look like as we begin the process? Organizational Goals How can we accomplish our organizations vision? Design Strategies What objectives, tasks, responsibilities, and timelines are necessary to accomplish our goals? Implement School Action Plan How do we collectively implement our action plan? Our Beliefs as a Faculty What do we think makes a difference for studetns? Our Values as A Faculty What do we hold dear about education? Our Commitment to Best Practices How much, and to what, are we committed? Valentine, 2002

8 The Necessity and Urgency for Change in Our Schools… The Knowledge-Implementation Gap Society and Our Students Needs Change Rapidly Expert Knowledge of Best Educational Practices Our Knowledge of Best Educational Practices Our Implementation if We Maintain Knowledge of BEP Our Implementation w/ Moderate Knowledge of BEP Our Implementation with No New Knowledge Our Implementation if Negativity Prevails

9 Lewins Simple Explanation of Organizational Change Has Become a Classic Perspective: Freeze/Unfreeze/Transition/Refreeze Kurt Lewin Pioneer in organizational psychology Born in Poland Studied in Germany Emigrated to US as Hitler moved into power Worked at Cornell, Iowa U. MIT and Harvard

10 Mountain Stream Ice Flow: Freezes, Thaws, Reshapes, Refreezes with the Environmental Factors of Sun-Shade- Current Flow-Water Depth

11 Freeze-Unfreeze-Transition-Refreeze Explanation Freeze is our current statethe way we are… Unfreeze is the time we spend realizing and accepting that we need to change. Transition is the actual implementation of the change Refreezing is stabilizing the organization so the new change can be internalized and maintained until it needs to be changed Learning organizations are in a continuous cycle of change from freeze to unfreeze to transition to refreezing just as the mountain stream transitions in the fall or spring

12 Same Concept, Different Visual Current State Unfreeze Transition Freeze Lewins Stages of Change:

13 The Change Journey: Facilitating Significant Change Sustained building-wide data collection/analysis, dialogue, and problem solving Job-embedded professional development Unfreeze Refreeze Group Performance Level Significant change is introduced Hawthorne Effect (assuming the group has collective commitment to change) Implementation Dip Significant change is institutionalized T R A N S I T I O N And the process repeats…. Awareness/ Urgency for Change Hackmann and Valentine 2009

14 Comfort-Discomfort-Comfort Cycle: Staff Anxiety During Collaboratively Developed Change Comfortable with current conditions Realization of needed change Realization of urgency for change Collaborative problem solving and design Optimism about decision to change Challenges of implementing the change Commitment and persistence Comfort with new conditions TIME STAFF ANXIETY Low High Valentine, 2010

15 Comfort-Discomfort-Comfort Cycle: Staff Anxiety During Mandated, Authoritative Change Comfortable with current conditions Realization of needed change Realization of urgency for change Collaborative problem solving and design Optimism about decision to change Challenges of implementing the change Commitment and persistence Comfort with new conditions TIME STAFF ANXIETY Low High Valentine, 2010 Mandated Change Little Commitment or Comfort

16 Continuous Change… Continuous change is a condition of life in schools… We cannot afford to refreeze and stay frozen. Nor can we afford not to collaboratively design the change. Does our school culture represent the values necessary to make appropriate changes? Does our school culture reduce anxiety about change by involving teachers in the decisions and design and then supporting their efforts during implementation? Do we have a caring, collaborative, problem-solving culture that will allow us to identify and make the right changes?

17 What is School Culture? The eloquent definitions: The shared beliefs and values that closely knit a community together (Deal and Kennedy, 1982) The pattern of basic assumptionsinvented, discovered, or developed by a group as they learn to cope with past problemsthat have been developed over time and have worked so well that they are taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel as the organization addresses new problems. (Modified from Schein, 1985) The practical definitions: The unwritten rules and traditions, norms, and expectations. (Deal and Peterson, 2009) The way we do things around here (Bower, 1966)

18 The culture is the personality of the school… it influences and shapes the way teachers, students, and administrators think, feel, and act… it reflects the norms, values, beliefs, and assumptions of our school… it shapes the way we do things around here. Valentine 1989

19 And the research says… A positive school culture Fosters school effectiveness and productivity Improves collegiality, collaboration, communication and problem-solving practices Promotes innovation and school improvement Builds commitment and kindles motivation Amplifies the energy and vitality of school staff, students, and community Focuses attention on what is valued and important Deal and Peterson pp

20 Cultures can be… Toxic (Pervasive sense of hopelessness and pessimism; negativity is the norm) Fragmented (Collaboration and external support discouraged; individualism is valued) Balkanized (In-groups, clicks, territoriality, lack of sharing) Contrived Collegiality (Superficial structure put in place to foster collaboration; often the initial step along the path toward true collaboration) Comfortably Collaborative (Lacks criticism and wrestling with the tough issues) Collaborative (The norm is openness, problem-solving, challenging, seeking improvement collectively as a faculty) Gruenert and Valentine (2006); adapted from Fullan and Hargraves (1996), Deal and Peterson (1999),

21 Shaping School Culture books…

22 How do we begin to understand our schools culture????? Engaging, Collaborative Strategies… School Song If our school was an animal, we would be a… Develop (write and act) a 20 second advertisement or infomercial… Design a shield with symbols (like a family shield or crest)… Create a list or timeline of the schools rituals and ceremonies… Identify the heroes/heroines past and present… Create a book of stories that personify the school past and present… Conduct an educational Garage Sale Peterson and Deal

23 Symbolic Educational Garage Sale Faculty determine what to Keep or Sell or Trash from among the Values, Programs, Equipment, Past Events, Relationships, Curricular Ideas, Teaching Approaches, Educational Issues, and Conflicts Peterson and Deal NOT FOR SALE …need now MUSEUM…served us well in past, given place of honor FOR SALE...of some value, but not to us GARBAGE/TRASH …no longer of use TOXIC WASTE… dispose carefully

24 How might we address the negative aspects of our culture? Hold a wake for some of the toxic behaviors or rituals that are not supportive of our desired culture Make a list of the toxic behaviors or the negative rituals and traditions that no longer serve the current needs of students and bury them. Peterson and Deal

25 How might we address the negative aspects of our culture? Have a bonfire Take pictures around school of the symbols of past failures then make a small bonfire and burn them. Peterson and Deal

26 Display positive symbols like banners, posters, wall hangings and artifacts with great messages… drown out the negativity of the past. Peterson and Deal How might we address the negative aspects of our culture?

27 How do we constructively reshape our schools culture?????? We begin by understanding what we value and believe about students and the schooling experience. We define what we want to become through our vision and goals. We openly discuss our rituals and ceremonies to be sure they support our desired culture We discuss the way we do things openly and challenge our existing practices We create a school culture team responsible for: collecting data about our culture leading us in studying the data pointing out to us where our practices dont match our desired culture

28 Our School Culture Affects How We Meet Our Students Needs: The Cultural Knowledge-Implementation Gap Society and Our Students Needs Change Rapidly Expert Knowledge of Collaborative School Culture Our Knowledge of Collaborative School Culture Our Effectiveness in a Highly Collaborative Culture Our Effectiveness in a Moderately Collaborative Culture Our Effectiveness without a Collaborative Culture Our Effectiveness in a Toxic Culture

29 Change is like a trapeze act… You have to let go before you can grab on... if you let go too soon, youll miss the next bar. If you hold on too long… youll lose momentum. Peterson and Deal

30 Your School Culture is Your Safety Net… A strong and positive caring, collaborative, problem- solving school culture… Allows you to let go with the confidence that you will be safe…even if the task is difficult and you need multiple attempts to be successful. Provides the same level of security to everyone who is willing to put forth the effort to change. Serves as the foundation for constructive change because it reflects the schools values and beliefs and commitments woven together into a strong, resilient safety net. Valentine 2010

31 Remember… A Caring Collaborative School Culture is one of the basic components of a highly successful school! Study it and shape it.

32 Time to Stretch… Not a Break, Just a Stretch…

33 Collecting Data to Study and Change School Culture The School Culture Survey (Gruenert and Valentine, 1998) 6 Factors about School Culture 35 Items Teacher Efficacy Scale (Quinn 2008) 10 Items

34 Collaborative Leadership School leaders establish, maintain, and support collaborative relationships with and among school staff. Leaders value teachers ideas, seek input, engage staff in decision-making, and trust the professional judgment of the staff. Leaders support and reward risk-taking and innovative ideas designed to improve education for the students. Leaders reinforce the sharing of ideas and effective practices among all staff.

35 Teacher Collaboration Teachers engage in constructive dialogue that furthers the educational vision of the school. Teachers across the school plan together, observe and discuss teaching practices, evaluate programs, and develop an awareness of the practices and programs of other teachers.

36 Professional Development Teachers value continuous personal development and school-wide improvement. Teachers seek ideas from seminars, colleagues, organizations, and other professional sources to maintain current knowledge, particularly current knowledge about instructional practices.

37 Unity of Purpose Teachers work toward a common mission for the school. Teachers understand, support, and perform in accordance with that mission.

38 Collegial Support Teachers work together effectively. Teachers trust each other, value each others ideas, and assist each other as they work to accomplish the tasks of the school organization.

39 Learning Partnership Teachers, parents, and students work together for the common good of the student. Parents and teachers share common expectations and communicate frequently about student performance. Parents trust teachers and students generally accept responsibility for their schooling..

40 Collecting SCS Data School Culture Team Prepares Faculty What is School Culture? Why is it important to study it? What will we do with the data we collect? Strategies for Collecting Teacher Responses Distribute; responses returned to a box Distribute; responses to secretary (envelope) Distribute, responses to a teacher (envelope) Distribute and complete during a faculty meeting or PD session (envelope)

41 Analyzing the SCS Data School Culture Team… Enters Data into Spreadsheet Copies Charts/tables as needed Determines date/time/agenda for studying the data

42 Strategies for Faculty Study of SCS Data Randomly Mix faculty into groups of 5-6 per table Distribute Survey, Data Sheet, and Factor Definitions with Item Numbers Small groups rank the 6 factors on chart paper, discuss their perceptions of the factor rankings, and then share out perceptions of the factors and rankings to whole faculty Small groups identify and rank on chart paper the five highest and lowest rated items, discuss their perceptions, and then share out perceptions about specific items to whole faculty Small groups list on chart paper what they view as most pressing issues and share out with whole faculty Small groups list on chart paper practical strategies to address the issues and share out with whole faculty Culture Team collects all chart papers and creates a list of issues, strategies, and recommendations for faculty to discuss In upcoming session faculty discuss and reach consensus on recommendations

43 Perspective…the Indiana Study (Gruenert 2005) SCS Factor Elementary Schools Middle Schools High Schools Collaborative Leadership Teacher Collaboration Professional Development Unity of Purpose Collegial Support Learning Partnership

44 Teacher Efficacy Scale Describes the extent to which teachers consider their students to be capable of successful learning and consider themselves to be responsible and effective agents in instructing students. 10 Items Reverse Scoring Explanation For item analysis you do not use the revere scored column For Charts, the reverse score is applied so the bar graphs all go in the same direction, thus taller bar (higher number) is more positive

45 Thank you for the opportunity to discuss school culture. Jerry Valentine Professor Emeritus University of Missouri

46 The following slide applies only if the school does the School Culture Typology Activity.

47 School Culture Typology Activity Randomly Mix 6 Per Table Independently complete School Culture Typology Individual Worksheet (Handouts A and B) Independently read and highlight School Culture Research Summary (Handout C) Create groups of three from each table Each person gets the Typology Descriptions (Handout D) Each person receives and then studies either Typology Example A, B, or C (Handouts E, F, G) Triad members discuss their respective Culture Examples Back as a table of six, the table group tallies their previously completed School Culture Typology Individual Worksheet ratings using the School Culture Typology Small Group Worksheet (Handout H) The table group then completes and discusses their Culture Typology Reflection Worksheets (Handout I) The activity facilitator collects the table worksheets and the School Culture Team builds a school composite culture and designs the next session where faculty study the findings.


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