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EDL 6213 ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP, DR. PATRICIA WEAVER

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ARTICLE ON SCHOOL CULTURE: SUMMARY AND RESPONSE ... (JERALD, 2006) IN FACT, MANY PEOPLE WHEN RELATING TO THE PHRASE SCHOOL CULTURE THINK OF TERMS ...

    ARTICLE ON SCHOOL CULTURE: SUMMARY AND RESPONSE

    An assignment

    Submitted in partial fulfillment for the Requirements of the degree of Master of Science in Education

    By

    Joyce L. Wood, B. M. E.

    Henderson State University

    EDL 6213: Organizational Leadership

    Summer I, 2010

    Henderson State University

    Joyce L. Wood 2

    EDL 6213 Organizational Leadership, Dr. Patricia Weaver

    ARTICLE ON SCHOOL CULTURE: SUMMARY AND RESPONSE

     Craig D. Jerald says in his issue brief “School Culture: The Hidden Curriculum,” that “despite its importance, organizational culture is possibly the least discussed element in practical

    conversations about how to improve student achievement.” (Jerald, 2006) In fact, many people

    when relating to the phrase school culture think of terms such as atmosphere, climate, or environment. These terms may be part of the definition of school culture but they can be shaped and influenced by the school’s population, both staff and students.

     Jerald says that some people miss a very important part of school culture; they think only in terms of “safe and orderly.” (Jerald, 2006) The author reminds educators that these attributes are important because such conditions help protect time and effort. Classroom discipline and management are part of maintaining a safe and orderly climate. However, the absence of chaos and discipline problems does not necessarily equal a positive school culture. A positive school culture is characterized by “presence of a set of norms and values that focus everyone’s attention

    on what is most important and motivate them to work hard toward a common purpose.” (Jerald,

    2006) In other words, staff and students are focused on working toward their common vision because they have values and beliefs in common. They participate in rituals and ceremonies, recall and retell history and stories, and may even have common physical symbols with which they identify.

     Jerald cites Deal and Peterson’s research on positive culture and the benefits that are derived

    from having that kind of climate.

    ; Fostering effort and productivity

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    EDL 6213 Organizational Leadership, Dr. Patricia Weaver

    ; Improving collegial and collaborative activities that in turn promote better

    communication and problem solving

    ; Supporting successful change and improvement efforts

    ; Building commitment and helping students and teachers identify with the school

    ; Amplifying energy and motivation of staff members and students

    ; Focusing attention and daily behavior on what is important and valued. (T. E. Deal and

    K. D. Peterson, 1999)

     As far as the term “hidden curriculum” that Jerald uses in the title of this article, he borrowed the term from the principal of a junior-senior high school in New York who had labeled this addition to not only emphasis on classroom instruction but to the hard work done on developing the personal relationships between faculty and students and therefore developing character. This principal truly believed that this was a definite element that could be identified and taught. Needless to say, this high school had a very impressive graduation rate of 97% who not only graduated but graduated on time, and 88% earned the prestigious Regents Diploma.

     The author also described another school that held a 3-week course in the summer immediately before the start of the school year to allow students a chance to meet their teachers and peers, and experience school to provide them with a comfort level and help them to understand the culture of the school. But the unspoken goal was to let these students know that this school was serious about their students going to college and that they needed to start thinking now about where they were going.

     Just as a positive school culture is more than just safe and orderly, it is also more than a warm, caring, and supportive atmosphere. These two must be connected to high expectations in order

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    EDL 6213 Organizational Leadership, Dr. Patricia Weaver

    to foster academic achievement or improvement. These high expectations must not be just for the students but for the teachers and staff as well. Professionalism and collegiality are integral parts of a positive school culture. Schools should establish and define norms and expectations clearly, create governing procedures that empower teachers in decision making, and ensure that teachers can engage in professional development that is meaningful to them, focused on improving classroom instruction in the subjects they teach.

     Characteristics that contribute to a positive culture are the vision and values that begin at the heart of the school, in the principal’s office. The core purpose of a school should be clear; there

    should be a clear picture of what the future looks like for this school. Strong, stated values make the school a positive culture as well. Values such as promoting excellence, striving for improvement, helping students to believe that they can learn, and pushing their efforts farther than they ever have are a few values that should be promoted in all schools. Jerald also says that to make the culture strong, there must be alignment. “Whether the culture is strong or weak

    depends on the actions, traditions, symbols, ceremonies, and rituals that are closely aligned with that vision.” (Jerald, 2006) Some of the other reinforcing behaviors that were mentioned in the article included Hero Making and Story Telling, spotlighting role models and mentors and sharing humor as well as historical school-related myths.

     Whether a school is on alert for school improvement or is an award-winning high-achieving school, the most influential component in either improving or maintaining achievement, could just be what the community really hasn’t considered. It is not ensuring that our schools have safe and orderly schools; it is ensuring that they have safe, orderly, nurturing, sharing, professional, visionary schools with high expectations and strong values aligned and promoted. Schools must

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    EDL 6213 Organizational Leadership, Dr. Patricia Weaver

promote the future in showing their students and teachers where we should be and when we

    should be there.

Works Cited

    Jerald, C. D. (2006). School Culture: "The Hidden Curriculum". Washington, DC : The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement.

    T. E. Deal and K. D. Peterson. (1999). Shaping School Culture: The Heart of Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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