Positive Culture and Change

I can’t sleep thinking about all this change.

Way back when I first started teaching I just didn’t know how good I had it. It was like teaching in a school with my extended family. We all got along great, with the required exception to prove the rule. We helped each other out. We became friends. Though I haven’t been there for 5 years I am still in touch with a few of the teachers.

What we had was a positive culture. There was never any problem that couldn’t be handled in house. We knew we were going to be a success. We didn’t hope to make AYP, we knew we would even if the rest of the district might not.

Morvah School House 1882

Morvah School House 1882 Copyright Rob AllDay Licensed under Creative Commons

Eventually, things change. The principal retired, a few teachers moved elsewhere or retired. The district removed some of the classes. Then brought them back the next year. When the leadership changes it’s difficult to stay on track. Eventually, I moved on too. I didn’t want to leave, but my life was changing and I had to go.

When change happens at school it is difficult for everyone. At my old school the change didn’t seem major, but it was. I think when the principal left there wasn’t enough accounting for the effect that had on the staff. We weren’t concerned enough with the change in culture in the school. The change was slight and certainly not negative, but it was enough that we started a long slow slide downhill.

There were complaints about the principal not being supportive enough. Some teachers actually went out of their way to make his life more difficult. Eventually, they even bragged about their exploits in the staff lounge. I didn’t realize it then, but the positive culture of the school had ended.

I read this from Tracy, a blogger

I feel we need to get beyond the system is broken kind of thinking and focus on what is working. We see what we look for and if we keep focusing on a broken system we will only succeed in creating more broken system.

All this reading about change and how difficult it is to lead. How important it is to create a positive culture. How we need to constantly remind ourselves and our staff that this change is a good idea, it’s based on solid research, it will work. How we need to work diligently to get the staff on board, to create a shared vision. How the fear of change will create such resistance. All this reading has made me see the barriers to change all around.

I see barriers in the policies of the administration. I see barriers in teachers. I see barriers in what I’m allowed to do and what I’m not allowed to do and sometimes I just don’t agree. All these barriers it’s making it difficult to sleep.

I have a new principal in a new school this year. and she said things like: communication, collaboration, always learning, always changing. I’m not so naive to think that everyone in the school believes her, but I will. She’s taking the reins at a difficult time she’ll need the support. And I think I want to be positive about school for a while.

Picture from http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~morvah/photomorvah.html August 23, 2010

Morvah School House 1882
Copyright Rob AllDay
Licensed under Creative Commons

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About dendari

I finished my program at JHU in 2011. If you have enjoyed my writing here please follow me at philosophywithoutahome.com.
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One Response to Positive Culture and Change

  1. Tracy Rosen says:

    “I have a new principal in a new school this year. and she said things like: communication, collaboration, always learning, always changing. I’m not so naive to think that everyone in the school believes her, but I will. She’s taking the reins at a difficult time she’ll need the support. And I think I want to be positive about school for a while.”

    That’s what I’m talking about! We can choose the stories in which we believe, we must, because we are responsible for them after all. And you’re absolutely right, she will need the support. You have seen how easy it is to corrupt a system, to corrupt a culture by telling negative stories. It seems sometimes that telling and believing in stories of things broken is easier or safer than keeping our stories filled with hope for the future but we must.

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