Ethics and School Culture: Choose your own adventure


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Building a school culture around core values is an ongoing story we write with many forks in the road. Those decision points sometimes take us deeper into the work, at other times come to a resting point or double back to find the main track. During our four year partnership with IGE, the Catherine Cook School in Chicago has built a vehicle with endurance that is always taking us someplace new. Trace our journey, explore some of the byways and plan your own new paths. This interactive session will include a look at structures we repeat from year to year that keep us heading in the right direction, even if we don't always know where we'll end up.

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Ethics and School Culture: Choose your own adventure

  1. 1. Ethics and School Culture:Choose Your Own AdventureCory Stutts, Head of Middle SchoolEthical Literacy ConferenceMiddletown RIJune 2012
  2. 2. Welcome to Our Adventure
  3. 3. About CCS• Located in heart of Old Town, just north of downtownChicago• Founded as parent cooperative 1975• Urban school– started in Jewish Community Center– moved to Catholic School basement– moved to current loft building, former B&B Shoe Company in1992
  4. 4. Our Namesake, Catherine Cook• Purchased building from AlexAnagnost 1990• Renamed (formerly MelroseSchool) after his mother,Catherine Cook• Attorney, Philanthropist• Dedicated to causesaffecting children
  5. 5. Recent Milestones and Challenges• Reorganized as independent school in 1997• Transition from parent cooperative to professionaladministrative structure uneven– 4 heads of school in 5 years• Current head of school, Michael Roberts, came 2005– Had worked with Rush Kidder at previous school– Suggested IGE as resource for building school culture
  6. 6. Creating our history• Not fighting a long history—creating it right now• Redefining identity from ―little school that could‖ totop tier innovative urban junior school• Ethics and character development essentialcomponents
  7. 7. Who we are now• Three divisions: Early Childhood (PS-K), LowerSchool (1st-4th), Middle School (5th-8th)• 500+ students ages 3-14• Growing from 2 to 3 sections at each grade level• Introduction to Catherine Cook School
  8. 8. Where we are todayOver the past four years, our Ethics and Culture teamhas evolved into a powerful tool for:• shaping school culture• driving professional development• fostering teacher leadership• partnering for parent educationBut it hasn’t been a straight line…
  9. 9. First steps…marching forwardAugust 2008• Team of MiddleSchool teachersand schooladministratorstrain with IGEAugust 2008• Teachers andstaff develop corevalues duringback-to-schoolmeetingsSept-Oct 2008• Middle Schoolstudents developcore values inadvisoriesOctober 2008• Staff andstudents meet toagree on final fivecore values
  10. 10. CCS Core Values agreed upon between staffand Middle School students-Fall 2008Respect Responsibility CompassionIntegrity Diversity
  11. 11. Onward and upward…October 2008Present final CoreValues to entirestaff and MiddleSchool studentsOctober 2008Develop CCSShared EthicalNorms for healthycollegial relations2008-09Explore what corevalues look like inaction with staffand MiddleSchool students2008-09Explore decision-makingframeworks withstaff and MiddleSchool students
  12. 12. Everything is good, right?• Not exactly…• Growing pains?• Middle School pushes ahead with stops and starts• Challenge keeping Early Childhood and LowerSchool engaged
  13. 13. Crossroads…• Is this just a Middle School thing?
  14. 14. Choose Our First AdventureSooo…do we choose to keep the focus on MiddleSchool and push forward with our Action Plans?Or…do we regroup and choose to broaden theinitiative to include all our students?
  15. 15. CHOICE 1: Keep the focus on Middle School• Keep working the Middle School Action Plan• Build a sturdy Middle School EL curriculum• Let EC and LS go their own way with ResponsiveClassroom, Love and Logic
  16. 16. • But…we chose the other path
  17. 17. CHOICE 2: Include all our students• How to do it? No road map…• Energy beginning to fray and lose focus
  18. 18. We need a new planStep 1: Persuade Division Heads to attend 2010Ethical Literacy Conference with me in Memphis
  19. 19. Step 2: Come with a dilemma: Can we includeyoung children in the work of Ethical Literacy?– Aren’t they still learning right from wrong?– Can they understand right v. right dilemmas?– Isn’t this too complex and abstract?– How will they remember the values?
  20. 20. Don’t know what we will find…if anything
  21. 21. Happy SurpriseIona WhishawPrincipalSir Charles TupperSecondary SchoolVancouver BCROARS Code of Conduct
  22. 22. Sir Charles Tupper Code of ConductSir CharlesTupperROARSCode ofConductRespectOwnershipAttitudeResponsibilitySafety
  23. 23. Aha! Moment• Catherine Cook mascot is Cougar…• A cougar ROARS…• Concrete enough for young children…• We can shamelessly borrow this idea!
  24. 24. Catherine Cook School Code of ConductCCSROARSCode ofConductRespectOwnershipAppreciationResponsibilitySafety
  25. 25. Rolling it out…• Share with EL Team in summer meeting• Concrete way to bring younger students in• Not abandoning Core Values…
  26. 26. Or are we?• How to make the relationship clear betweenoriginal Core Values and ROARS…
  27. 27. Core Values• Respect• Responsibility• Compassion• Integrity• DiversityROARS• Respect• Ownership• Appreciation• Responsibility• Safety
  28. 28. Choose Our Second Adventure• Do we choose to put our efforts into ROARS andyounger students and risk losing focus on MiddleSchool and the original Core Values?• Do we choose to try to do both at once?
  29. 29. CHOICE 1: Put our efforts into ROARS andbroaden to include younger students• Work with teachers of younger students toincorporate ROARS along with ResponsiveClassroom and other structures• 8th graders lead Back to School Assembly aimedat younger children
  30. 30. • Middle School students translate ROARS foryounger students– Make safety posters– Awards for being caught being ROARSY• Let original Core Values rest while we focus onROARS and unifying the entire school around acommon set of values
  31. 31. CHOICE 2: Try to do both at once• 8th graders introduce ROARS at Back to SchoolAssembly• Build and reinforce ethical vocabulary, conductwith younger students
  32. 32. • Keep building ethical literacy in MS advisorieswith right v right dilemmas in the news, in theclassroom, and on the playground• Deepen awareness of ethical issues in differentMS subject areas• Keep making the connections between originalCore Values and ROARS
  33. 33. THIS PROVED HARD TO DO…Still figuring it out
  34. 34. Connecting Core Values and ROARS?• One idea is to create banners in the gym thatshowed connections—ROARS as our CoreValues in Action• Both would be visible and reinforced• Got as far as location and possible design…
  35. 35. • Banners got stuck at funding...need to revisit thatone
  36. 36. Review of ROARS after first year…• Strengths: ROARS was a good idea, started offwith a bang– Shared with staff at Pre-planning—built energy andenthusiasm– 8th graders planned over the summer; introduced towhole school at first assembly, ending up with a cheer:• We are the Cougars, coming through the doors,• We are the Cougars, ROARS, ROARS, ROARS!
  37. 37. • Weaknesses: ROARS fizzled in LS and EC• Ideas for recognizing ROARSY behavior nevergot fully implemented• Teachers lost focus
  38. 38. How do we sustain our efforts?• Identify new EL team members from EarlyChildhood and Lower School• Educate and bring new members up to speed withEthical Literacy and ROARS– Refresher course on the basics?
  39. 39. The gist of it• We need to build a structure that keepsROARS and Core Values alive in the school
  40. 40. How to do it?• Plan structures that repeat and can be revisitedfrom year to year, i.e…BUILD REPLICABLE STRUCTURES
  41. 41. STRATEGY 1• tie ROARS to existing CCS structures such as…– Whole Faculty Meetings– Weekly Division Meetings– Weekly All School Assemblies– Middle School Morning Meetings– Advisory– Student Leadership Council– Responsive Classroom, Circle Time, Peace Wheels– Discipline Process
  42. 42. STRATEGY 2• Expand the original Ethical Literacy team toinclude teachers of younger students
  43. 43. STRATEGY 3• Create an Ethical Literacy steering committeeincluding Division Heads and othersSOMEONE HAS TO HOLD ONTO THE VISIONAND KEEP IT MOVING FORWARD
  44. 44. STRATEGY 4• Create other committees to get work done:– Division Committees– Multicultural Committee (outreach to Parent Group?)– Assemblies Committee– Sports Committee– Writing Committee—get statement of purpose andconnection; write about program for website
  46. 46. STRATEGY 5• Create an organizational chart that shows theparts and how they connect
  47. 47. Ethics andCulture TeamStudent-FocusedEthics InitiativesAdult-FocusedEthics Initiatives
  48. 48. Student-FocusedEthics InitiativesBack to SchoolROARS AssemblyAdvisory BuddiesMS AdvisoryCurriculumIntegrate ethicaldilemmas into subjectareas
  49. 49. Adult-Focused EthicsInitiativesBack to SchoolSession for TeachersDiversity WorkTeachers LeadingProfessional Learning
  50. 50. STRATEGY 6• Meet as a whole team once each trimester toreport, review, and planSET MEETINGS UP A YEAR IN ADVANCE ANDSTICK TO THEM
  51. 51. STRATEGY 7• Have Committees meet monthly and as needed todo the work
  52. 52. STRATEGY 8• 8th grade students do the Back to SchoolAssembly each year
  53. 53. Back to School ROARS Assembly 2011
  54. 54. With some basic structures in place, we seenew possibilities…• Problem: Lots of good ethical literacy workhappening inside school, need to bring parentsinto the process• Solution: One Book, One Catherine Cook
  55. 55. • Choose Good Kids, Tough Choices, Rush’s bookwritten for parents• Cross-divisional book discussion groups• Invite Rush to spend a day at Catherine Cook,work with students, faculty, parents
  56. 56. ROARSY or BOARSY?••
  57. 57. • Problem: Scattered diversity initiatives need moreintentional direction– Started Multicultural Parents Reading Group--morphed– Started Faculty of Color group--stopped– Started Multicultural Students Club--fizzled– In-service diversity discussion—controversial– Outside speaker brought in--controversial• All testing the waters, no coherence; in need of aplanNew Directions for Diversity Work
  58. 58. Ethical Literacy and Cultural Competence• Steering Committee kicks off 2011-12 school yearwith presentation on Ethical Literacy and CulturalCompetence• Faculty read and discuss The Spirit Catches Youand You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
  59. 59. Developing Teacher Leadership• 8th grade teachers lead February in-service dayon the genetics of race– Plan with Steering Committee– Describe integrated 8th grade science/humanities uniton identity– Show clips from Race: The Power of an Illusion– Include skyped webinar with evolutionary biologistJoseph Graves– Intellectually provocative; presenting at PoCC next year
  60. 60. Reviewing In-Service with EC Team• Shared general survey results from wider faculty• Asked EC team for honest feedback• Major result: teachers enjoyed theory of race, butwanted practical resources and strategies to usewith students• Invited new team members to plan whole facultyfollow up session
  61. 61. Annual Learning CycleEnd of YearReview/PlanningSeptemberKickoffOctober In-serviceTrimester 1ReviewFebruary In-serviceTrimester 2ReviewMay WholeFaculty Meeting
  62. 62. Behind the Scenes Work that Admin Does• Sets a tone of openness, voluntary participation• Regularly invites new members to join Ethics andCulture team• Listens to team ideas• Shares leadership• Empowers faculty to have a voice in professionallearning• Makes time to get the work done• Sets the calendar• Gathers feedback on events and activities
  63. 63. Behind the Scenes Work that Admin DoesMOST IMPORTANTLY…• Keeps steering the process and staying oncourse, whether highway or byway
  64. 64. Reflective, iterative processThis has been a narrative of our journey so far…Not a straight line, many crossroads
  65. 65. • Constantly evolving• Some next steps for us– Re-engaging older students– Recognizing greater ethical complexity as studentsmature– distinguishing Core Values from ROARS appropriatelyfor MS age students
  66. 66. Now Choose Your Next Adventure• What structures to support ethics in yourschool/organization repeat on a regular cycle?• Where are the tensions/decision points for yourprocess right now?• What resources/information do you need?• What are your next steps?
  67. 67. ResourcesROARS Code of Conduct•