That's a big question--a question with multiple answers.
I have been teaching for a long time. I've observed great teaching and extraordinary efforts. I am humbled by the talents and strengths that the students, parents, community members, administrators and educators in my system exemplify each and every day, and I continue to strive to include those strengths in my work as I facilitate learning events for and with students.
As I think about a strong school culture, I identify the following attributes:
- Students First: A culture that strives to respond to student needs in responsive, caring and creative ways.
- Learning Community: Learning is the goal and mission.
- Respect: Students, educators and administrators treat each other with care and respect.
- Recognizes and Employs Talents: A culture that doesn't expect all people to be all things, but instead looks for, notices and employs the strengths community members bring to the school.
- Inspired: An environment and program that inspire a love of learning and engagement.
- Communication Systems: Efficient, regular communication systems that keep the community informed, and leave real time for meaningful, targeted debates, discussions and voice.
- Streamlined: A school that does a lot, but not too much. Prioritization and focus.
- Healthy: An environment that embraces healthy food, schedules and activity.
- Celebrations/Traditions: A system that regularly celebrates learning and engages in valued traditions.
I wonder what my colleagues would list as they think about an ideal school culture? What would you include? What have I missed or forgotten?
I am also wondering how I can alter my work each day to better reflect the values I list above. School culture matters, and school culture also leaves a lasting mark on the families, students, administrators and educators who experience that culture each day.