Understanding School Culture
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Understanding School Culture

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School culture presentation by Linda Nelson of NCAIS at SAIS New Teacher Institute 2009.

School culture presentation by Linda Nelson of NCAIS at SAIS New Teacher Institute 2009.

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Understanding School Culture Understanding School Culture Presentation Transcript

  • UNDERSTANDING SCHOOL CULTURE
    Linda S. Nelson
    Executive Director
    North Carolina Association of Independent Schools
  • Beliefs
    Values
    Traditions
    Patterns of Behavior
    Climate
    Environment
    “The Way We Do Things”
    WHAT IS SCHOOL CULTURE?
  • WHAT THEY SAY vs. WHAT THEY DO
    Expressed Culture vs. Observed Culture
    Are they the same?
    Should they be?
  • THREE LEVELS OF CULTURE
    Level One
    What you might see on your first visit – first impressions
    Level Two
    Values, beliefs, “the way things should be done”
    These are “testable” in the physical environment
    Level Three
    Fundamental beliefs about school, students, etc.
    Reason for being
  • BOARD
    Broadly defines through Mission and Vision
  • It’s the head’s role to translate and communicate that “definition” of culture. Heads do not have a choice about whether they communicate; everything they do is a communication. They only have a choice about how and what and how consistently they will communicate.
    THE HEAD OF SCHOOL IS THE CULTURAL LEADER– LIKE IT or NOT…
  • The primary methods available to leaders to allow them to shape culture are:
    Paying attention to some aspect of school life
    Choosing to measure some aspect of school life
  • AS CULTURAL LEADER…
    If a head is consistently interested in one thing, it will become a centerpiece of school culture. If a head is inconsistently interested in many things, unclear in communicating with employees, or inconsistent in decision-making or defining priorities, people will spend a lot of time trying to figure out what’s going on. The head’s inconsistency will become a central feature of the school culture. (Understanding School Culture, Michael Thompson
  • HEAD OF SCHOOL IS:
    Symbol of Culture
    Potter who shapes the Culture
    Poet who uses language to describe the Culture
    Actor who plays out the values and vision
    Healer who presides over life transitions in the community
  • HEAD HAS A KEY ROLE IN DETERMINING IF EXPRESSED CULTURE AND OBSERVED CULTURE MATCH
  • ROLE OF TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS
    Supporting Cast
    Watchdog vs. Enablers
  • SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET
    Every school has skeletons
    These skeletons become a part of the culture – good or bad
    The way a community deals with these “skeletons: speaks volumes about its “culture” and commitment to self-improvement
  • ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY
    Independent Schools as institutions most closely resemble families and churches
    Everyone related to the school has a vested interest in what is going on and has strong opinions
    Personal and Professional lines can become blurred
    Strategic thinking, visioning, values can quickly become “situational”
  • WHERE DO “NEWBIES” FIT IN?
    Good Question… “Does the Shoe Fit?”
    Fresh Eyes
    Broader Perspective
  • QUESTIONS…FINAL THOUGHTS