Friday, August 02, 2013

Good Schools: Building a Culture of Learning

A culture of learning is integral to successful schools.

What is a culture of learning?

A culture of learning has the following attributes:
  • Inquiry: Inquiry, research, and learning are embraced. All members of the learning community are seeking answers in their quest to learn.
  • Share: Learning is readily and regularly shared in order to help the community grow.
  • Collaborate: In a culture of learning all members learn with each other. Students learn from teachers, and teachers learn from students. Educators and leaders research and learn together. Family members are invited to share their learning and work with the education team to teach all children well.  
  • Communication: Protocols and structure support sharing. A community blog, study groups, and PLC's are examples of structures that support sharing. Protocols that invite new learning, questions, and ideas strengthen communication. 
  • Leadership: The leaders share their learning publicly, acknowledge their own questions and error, and support open, transparent learning within the community.
  • Goals: Learning communities set goals, assess progress, and revise as necessary.
  • Team: A sense of team is embraced and with this in mind all information related to learning goals and culture are shared with all members of the learning community: students, families, educators, leaders, and community members. 
  • Celebration: In a culture of learning, learning is celebrated. 
At the beginning of the school year, educators and leaders set the stage for this culture in the following ways:
  • Leaders share stories of learning success, questions, and learning challenge demonstrating the thought, struggle, and action of learning.
  • Educators and leaders invite families to share their expectations, hopes, needs, and questions related to their children's education.
  • Summer study is shared via online blogs to benefit all members of the learning community.
  • Students are encouraged to share their summer learning.
  • Learning becomes the main subject of early year meetings as the community reflects on what it means to be a learner, how to share learning, and the questions that drive our learning now and in the past. 
  • Learning maps appear on school hallways, websites, and classroom walls.
  • Mistakes are embraced as part of the learning path.
  • Ideas for positive change are regularly entertained.
  • New collective learning paths are chosen, organized, and shared as community members develop the learning community's efforts to teach children well. 
When the whole community comes together as learners, everyone gains.  On the other hand when individuals see learning and knowledge as singular, belonging to some, or safeguarded, then that learning does not benefit the community with the promise and potential possible. 

Fostering a culture of learning makes schools invigorating, inviting labs of knowledge, skill, concept, process, and invention. Learning environments like this invite the best of what we can do as educators, students, and leaders. 

Does your school exemplify a culture of learning?  If so, how?  If not, how can you change that?