Culture, specifically, organizational culture. It’s part cliché, part elusive whale, and part obsession.
We all work (or have worked in my case) within schools or educational organizations which have a culture and we all know how powerfully that culture influences what happens within the school.
The cliché: Culture is the key to a great school
The elusive whale: What is school culture?
The obsession: How can we create a culture of learning?
Today, I will unpack for you the secrets of school culture. I guarantee after you listen to this show, you will have a clearer understanding of what school culture is, why it is so powerful, and – best of all – how you can build a better school culture. It isn’t easy, but it is, I promise you, simple.
Summarizing (The big takeaway)
Summarizing (The big takeaway)
If you want to improve your culture: support and grow your teachers. For example:
· Stop telling them how to get better. Change the culture by revamping your teacher evaluation and PD systems. Facilitate discussions in which teachers identify their pain points and they tell you about their goals for creating a stronger classroom. This change hits every aspect of your organization:
o Changes the purpose of leadership from controlling to serving
o Changes the structures around the evaluation process from compliance to critical
o Changes the structures of observation and post-conferencing
o Reallocates resources as we focus on meaningful coaching and PD
I’m not saying your current purpose, structures, resources and teacher improvement strategies are a dumpster fire. I know how hard you work and how much thought you put into helping your teachers grow. What I am saying is this:
· If you are telling your teachers where they need to grow, instead of helping them address pain points they want to treat, there is friction.
· If your evaluation system is not part of a long-term systemic approach to helping teachers improve their craft, then evaluation creates friction.
· If teachers are required to attend PD they see as irrelevant, at the cost of attending PD they want, that PD is creating friction.
I know there are many things you do not control, and the evaluation system is probably one of them. However, can you:
· Ask teachers “If you could get students to do one thing differently, what would it be?”
· And then help them define what that would look like and sound like?
· Could we then, in our formal observation, make sure we were capturing some of the data related to the thing we want students to do differently”?
· Could we, in our formal post-observation conference, map a plan for how we can help that teacher create that change?
· Could we, follow up consistently in our future observations and PLCs?
Yes, we can do all those things. It is simple, but it is not easy.
You can hear me unpack that question about students doing one thing with 2nd-year AP Alex Auriemma in episode 177 from last week.
So, now you know what school culture is. You know what makes it worse and what can make it better. What are you next steps? What do you do with this ne understanding?
I don’t actually suggest that you revamp your entire evaluation structure. That is an A-Z change.
Here are two simple things you can do starting today:
· Ask that question, “If you could get students to do one thing differently, what would it be?” Informally of your teachers, and listen to their answers.
· Do more 5-minute coaching
o It reinforces that the purpose of leadership is to support and grow teachers.
o It creates an informal structure that makes that work easier for both leaders and teachers.
o And by going your full time and attention, even only for five minutes, it communicates to teachers that you are willing to invest important resources in their growth.
Honestly, I’d like to dig into this even more – we are just scratching the surface. The 6D framework is the foundation of so much of the work I do and the practices I promote and teach about.
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