Steve Gruenert & Todd Whitaker SCHOOL CULTURE REWIRED: How to Define, Assess, and Transform It
What influences everything at your school? The culture you allow. That is a bold and mighty statement, and as a school leader, somewhat alarming. Although it was this thought that propeled me forward in each of the authors Gruenert & Whitaker purposeful chapters.
Exactly how does a school leader transform a school culture for the purpose of equitable student achievement? Gruenert & Whitaker offer advice first by defining it. "Culture is not a problem that needs to be solved, but rather a framework that can be used to solve problems" (pg. 6). Chapter two outlines "culture busting strategies" for developing a positive mindset about the culture and climate you strive to create at your school.
"If you want to BUST a culture...."
Ask teachers why they like snow days. (It's all about the WHY. John Maxwell)
Celebrate Mondays. (Rather than Fridays)
Praise and compliment risk taking. (Take note.)
Have fun in meetings that aren't suppose to be fun. (Laugh!)
Ask educators why cultural change takes so long. (Go slow to go fast.)
Try new teaching strategies. (Think Hattie and Marzano.)
Visit other effective schools. (What Works?)
Push the boundaries of culturally acceptable behaviors. (Good is the Enemy of Great. Jim Collins)
Encourage the development of a subculture of your most effective teachers. (How we do things around here.)
Ask who will keep us from improving. (Avoid the blame game.)
Ask people to explain the elephant in the room. (We have choices.)
Gruenert & Whitaker also provide tools to "start the conversation" with staff about your school culture. The School Culture Typology Activity will "reveal their current cultural type" (pg. 66) and it's strengths and weakness. The School Culture Survey can be used to determine how collaborative your school culture is. Not just how well teachers work together, but the "existence of trust, peer observations, a compelling mission, and so on (pg. 80). There are additional tools that will help your school team "jump start" and "lead by example" by seeking out the "leverage points" to transform a culture. "After all, we don't want our schools just to be different; we want them to be better" (pg. 166).