Hi All.... hope this finds you well. Beautiful day here in Southern New Jersey... summer is in the air!!!

“Community building must become the heart of any school improvement effort.”
(Thomas Sergiovani)


“School cultures can not be changed from with-out; they must be changed from with-in.”
(Roland Barth, 2001)


Questions drive all learning.... and i like to collect good questions.... here are some i am currently playing with from a book titled......

Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division
By Anthony Muhammad

1.How would you personally describe school culture, and how would you rate your
school’s culture (healthy or toxic)?

2. From your personal experience, what happens when technical change precedes cultural change? How does this affect teacher morale and willingness to change?

3. How has No Child Left Behind (NCLB) affected the focus, policies, and practices in your school?

4. Is flexibility with students an important concept in building a healthy school
culture? How flexible is your school or district environment?

5. How do educators develop intrinsic motivation for student achievement? How can
educators who lack this trait develop it?

6. Can you identify and recite your school or district mission? If not, what are the factors that cause this disconnect? Can a staff truly be unified in purpose if they never formally articulate that commitment?

7. How do you celebrate the prowess of the staff in your school or district? What does
authentic celebration produce in an educational community?

8. What are the current components of your school or district program for mentoring new teachers? Does it adequately meet the needs of new teachers? What evidence do you have to support your belief?

9. How can teacher collaboration foster a sense of unity in a school? How can improper
collaboration foster staff division? How can you nurture proper professional collaboration
in your school?

10. Can a teacher leader impact the school culture? How and why?

11. According to Muhammad, every building has four different types of teachers working in concert---or conflict---with one another.

They are:
The Believers: "Believers are educators who believe in the core values that make up a healthy school culture. They believe that all of their students are capable of learning and that [educators] have a direct impact on student success."

The Tweeners: "Tweeners are educators who are new to the school culture. Their experience can be likened to a 'honeymoon period' in which they spend time trying to learn the norms and expectations of the school's culture."

The Survivors: "[Survivors] are the small group of teachers who are 'burned out'---so overwhelmed by the demands of the profession that they suffer from depression and merely survive from day to day."

The Fundamentalists: "Fundamentalists are staff members who are not only opposed to change, but organize to resist and thwart any change initiative. They can wield tremendous political power and are a major obstacle in implementing meaningful school reform."

Can you staff be sorted into these categories?

Which category causes the most concern when trying to create change?

What can teacher leader's do to transform culture?

Feel free to share any responces or other questions that guide your thinking/feelings on transforming school culture.....

be well... mike

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Hi All..... so highlights from Barth.......


Educational Leadership 59 no8 6-11 My 2002

The Culture Builder
Roland S. Barth


Probably the most important--and the most difficult--job of an instructional leader is to change the prevailing culture of a school. The school's culture dictates, in no uncertain terms, "the way we do things around here." A school's culture has far more influence on life and learning in the schoolhouse than the president of the country, the state department of education, the superintendent, the school board, or even the principal, teachers, and parents can ever have.

One cannot, of course, change a school culture alone. But one can provide forms of leadership that invite others to join as observers of the old and architects of the new. The effect must be to transform what we did last September into what we would like to do next September.

Every school has a culture. Some are hospitable, others toxic. A school's culture can work for or against improvement and reform. Some schools are populated by teachers and administrators who are reformers, others by educators who are gifted and talented at subverting reform. And many school cultures are indifferent to reform.

And all school cultures are incredibly resistant to change, which makes school improvement--from within or from without--usually futile. Unless teachers and administrators act to change the culture of a school, all innovations, high standards, and high-stakes tests will have to fit in and around existing elements of the culture. They will remain superficial window dressing, incapable of making much of a difference.

NONDISCUSSABLES
An important part of awareness is attending to "nondiscussables." Nondiscussables are subjects sufficiently important that they are talked about frequently but are so laden with anxiety and fearfulness that these conversations take place only in the parking lot, the rest rooms, the playground, the car pool, or the dinner table at home. Fear abounds that open discussion of these incendiary issues--at a faculty meeting, for example--will cause a meltdown. The nondiscussable is the elephant in the living room. Everyone knows that this huge pachyderm is there, right between the sofa and the fireplace, but we go on mopping and dusting and vacuuming around it as if it did not exist.


The health of a school is inversely proportional to the number of nondiscussables: the fewer nondiscussables, the healthier the school; the more nondiscussables, the more pathology in the school culture. To change the culture of the school, the instructional leader must enable its residents to name, acknowledge, and address the nondiscussables--especially those that impede learning. No mean task, for as one principal put it, "These nondiscussables are the third rail of school leadership."



When we come to believe that our schools should be providing a culture that creates and sustains a community of student and adult learning--that this is the trellis of our profession--then we will organize our schools, classrooms, and learning experiences differently. Show me a school where instructional leaders constantly examine the school's culture and work to transform it into one hospitable to sustained human learning, and I'll show you students who do just fine on those standardized tests.
Show me a school where instructional leaders constantly examine the school's culture and work to transform it into one hospitable to sustained human learning, and I'll show you students who do just fine on those standardized tests.>>

Show me a community that challenges their schools to be better than the community is itself and I'll show you the same.

I am so very, very tired of hearing "We can't ask our students to do that because the community won't support it" from our administration. I firmly believe that the success of a school begins with the culture. Too many teachers want no part of what it takes to change one though especially when they are told it won't work anyway.

teachers needed to be taken into transformational policies and action by the management.

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