Culture & Climate
School culture and school climate, while not synonymous, are inextricably intertwined with one another and with the ability of a school or district to transform itself into an entity that:
- is responsive to the needs of all students;
- creates an environment of shared values and high academic and behavioral expecations for students and staff; and
- fosters excellence in its students, teachers, parents, and administrators.
The twin pillars of climate and culture are what create a sense of community among all individuals, a community built around the values of respect, creativity, caring, rigor and the shared expectations that all students can and will succeed.
The articles and videos in this category will explore topics around school culture and climate.
Book Author: Lynn Sharratt and Michael Fullan (2009)
"There is no quick fix" to school turnaround, Lyn Sharratt and Michael Fullan say in Realization. Based on their research on a multicultural district in Ontario, Canada, Sharratt and Fullan developed the district's reform framework. The framework contains 14 parameters and reflects the premise that all students can learn. The 14-parameter framework creates a successful professional and student learning environment, where scaffolded learning supports practice and improvement moves from modeled to shared to guided to interdependent.
Book Authors: Steven Katz, Loma Earl, and Sonia Ben Jaafar (2009)
The push for practitioner collaboration to improve student achievement is a prevalent theme in the school turnaround literature. A number of prominent buzzwords featured in this body of work reaffirm the need for teachers and administrators to collaborate: cross-learning collaborative, professional learning communities, and professional networks. However, many practitioners working to improve their schools ask themselves: What does high-quality collaboration or networking look like? How should I network in my school? The 2009 book Building and Connecting Learning Communities: the Power of Networks for School Improvement attempts to provide practical answers to the "how-to" questions of networking.
Book Authors: Richard DuFour and Robert Marzano (2011)
"Effective leaders can't accomplish things alone," say Richard DuFour and Robert J. Marzano say in their book Leaders of Learning discuss collective PLCs with the mindset that "effective leaders can't accomplish things alone." Every educator is a leader, authors say, whether they are teachers leading classrooms, principals leading buildings or superintendents leading districts.
The book is filled with realistic concerns from the field, followed by authors' advice and tips that are readily applicable to practice. The book excels at addressing ideas to combat building-level concerns—such as teacher isolation—to district-level ideas—such as Common Core State Standards implementation.
Book Authors: Richard DuFour and Michael Fullan (2013)
Educators and practitioners interested to know where culture falls in their school turnaround framework should pick up a copy of Richard DuFour and Michael Fullan's Cultures Built to Last: Systemic PLCs at Work. DuFour and Fullan assert that cultural change is undeniably the most important piece in school turnaround, and one way to sustain it is through systemic Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).
DuFour and Fullan say the goal of this book is to show leaders how to make PLCs systemic and help all students achieve at higher levels. The book analyzes barriers, strategies, and payoffs of PLCs. Readers will learn the meaning of PLCs on a deep operational level, and understand what the PLC process looks like in action. This book will benefit especially those interested in how to maximize school and teacher autonomy through PLCs (Chapter 3), implement state and district level standards with systemic PLCs (Chapter 4), or even break the stereotype that all PLCs work (Chapter 1).
Book Author: Joseph Murphy and Daniela Torre (2012)
Following up on previous work on school improvement that stresses the importance of academic press and school culture (Murphy, 2010), Murphy and Torre's Creating Productive Cultures in Schools illustrates the role of leadership and community in the pursuit of strengthened school culture. This book starts with the characterization of a model for building a personalized community within and around schools that emphasizes a leadership engine that both overcomes liabilities and builds on assets. The book then turns to practices of collaboration in professional culture and analyzes successful frameworks and models for creating communities of teacher professionals. For readers, Murphy and Torre split attention between the "'what'— ingredients that define professional learning culture" (p. viii) and the 'how'—dimensions of capital (knowledge and cultural) that deepen professional norms and attitudes (Murphy and Torre, 2014).