This past week I have been thinking about the culture of a school. Through all my visits of various schools I can safely say that no two schools are exactly alike. There may be threads of commonality but each school is unique and an expression of many variables.
A school culture is formed intentionally and often times, unintentionally by all the people who are a part of it. Some of the culture of a school is visible: the care with which the physical space is arranged, the attention to little details, the daily schedule, and so on but most of it is invisible. It resides not in a physical space or time but inside each one of us who are a part of the school. It defines how we think about ourselves and each other, how decisions are made, what kinds of ideas and actions are given importance, how we do our work, what our shared expectations and values are and these become the norms of the school.
A school culture not only impacts teachers and other staff but research shows that it has a huge impact on children as well. Well,no surprises there!
Often we say that a school is only as good as it’s teachers. But today I have been thinking if the reverse is true as well?
While the culture of a school is a result of the mind-sets of the people in the school, inversely it also ’shapes’ the people in the school; the value given to ones work, our idea of ourselves and each other. I have seen it have a big impact on teachers, especially teachers who are just starting out.
School culture can be the wind beneath a teachers wings or the strings that bind and keep her from reaching her full potential and truly following the child.
The thing with school culture is that it is dynamic and forever changing. Each stage of development brings with it defining moments : new challenges and questions that test the kind of culture that exists and the path the school will take in the future.