Friday, December 14, 2012

New Expectations: Culture Shift

There are many new expectations in schools today.  Expectations that I believe make the learning community stronger and students more successful.  The changes in my school include the following:
  • Response to Intervention (RTI) in math and English language arts.
  • Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) - one hour a week plus additional collaboration and communication.
  • Greater, targeted teaching, assessment and response.
  • Weekly newsletters and parent communication. 
  • Websites and email.
  • Technology integration and multimedia composition.
  • New standards.
  • New teacher evaluation system.
  • The norm that most educators are balancing family and teaching. (When I first started teaching few teachers were also raising young children at home.)
What I like best about all these changes is the fact that the focus is moving towards greater attention to student learning and success for all students.  

The challenge with all these changes is that we've made few to no changes with regard to traditions and past expectations.  Hence, we've added, but not taken away which leaves the schedule and routine a bit overweighted and unreasonable.

Does every transition have to be scripted?  Isn't it natural for some changes in culture to just diminish while other structures take center stage?  Yet, the challenge of balancing the old and new can be stressful?

With changes in place, the best solution is to spend some time discussing school culture.  What's important to your organization, and what traditions and actions support that vision and work?  What structures of old no longer represent the culture you desire or the time available?  The answers to these questions will differ for every school and individual.  This will always be a revolving door of addition and change, and there's no one right way to deal with it, but acknowledging the fact that these changes are here helps.