School Culture

I've been struggling with how to develop a school culture. I'm not struggling with the fact that a school needs one; I'm struggling with what all is included in a culture. So, what did I do? I looked up a bunch of definitions. Here's what I found:

A culture is a set of beliefs, values, behaviors, and characteristics of a group. Further, this shared set of beliefs, values, behaviors, and characteristics can be used to identify members of that group.

So, a culture is not only what you believe and how you act, it is how you are identified. The culture you ascribe to groups you in the view of others, and, most importantly, has a powerful effect on your decision making.

How does that translate in a school?

Schools with productive cultures make decisions based on that culture. Decisions are made because "that's who we are." Those schools operate from a position of unified thinking; from a sense of common belief. Because a school's culture becomes a part of their identity, their decision making comes out of that identity, and, therefore, the reality provides space for that culture.

When a school has an unproductive culture, decisions are made from a position of power, selfishness, and greed. Even worse, decisions are made from a position of ignorance. When there is no unified thought, there is no sense of belonging or purpose. Decisions seem disconnected and meaningless.

So, how do you begin to identify those beliefs, values, behaviors, and characteristics are important to you school? How do you use those core values to make decisions? How do you develop an attitude of "this is who we are?" The answer is going to depend on you and your school, but my encouragement is to just start now.

Your thoughts are welcomed and encouraged,

Dane Barner


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