Written by Chanie Wilschanski
I was chatting with a director a few months ago about school cultures. She was sharing that she feels her school goes through phases of different environments and cultures.
I thought about what she said a lot and also looked at my notes and data of what hundreds of directors had shared with me in conversations that I had with them.
And so a little bit ago I created something I call the School Culture Model ™
Each phase of the model represents very specific activities that are going on in your school.
I wrote a workbook (download it for free here) on each phase with specific strategies to help you identify where you are and the tools to get out of that stage as fast as you can!
In this post, I’ll share a brief synopsis, and you can download the FREE workbook here to learn all the details.
What is a Toxic Culture?
In a toxic environment, there is typically only one way to do things. Teachers hold strong to what they have done in the past and aren’t ready to let go of it. Especially if it rocks the boat too much or requires effort on their part.
A simple trick to encourage teachers to try new things is gratitude. But the gratitude I’m talking about is specifically grateful for what your teachers are doing right.
What is a Passive Culture?
In a passive culture, teachers avoid confrontation at all costs! They will agree with things even if they really don’t want to simply because they don’t want to say what they really think. This causes havoc in the school as many teachers are harboring grudges or are upset at the director for doing things and they just don’t know how to communicate it.
One way to climb your way out of a passive culture is to model what you want to see.
When you are frustrated or disagree at a meeting, show your staff how you share what makes you uncomfortable.
Share with your staff what’s going on. Of course, if you are upset or you feel you might raise your voice, then take a break.
But simply sharing a difference of opinion is so healthy. It shows the teachers that it’s ok to disagree.
I can't tell you how many teachers fear for the jobs and just keep quiet because they think if they share they will get fired!
Of course, many of you reading this would never do that, but you have to clearly articulate that to some teachers. Some people are reeling from abusive bosses you may have done horrible things to them and till they trust you will take time.
What is a comfortable culture?
A comfortable culture is really hard to notice because on the surface teachers are really progressive and innovative. Their classrooms are wonderful, and the directors sing their praises. The problem with this environment is that the teachers are too comfortable.
They like the way things are and the way it's done. And they don’t want to try knew things that will force them out of their comfort zone. They know they are good and schools from all over the world may come to visit them and observe their schools.
But if you look deeper, the teachers are very comfortable, set in their ways and what they are doing. They have learned what works and what doesn't. And if you share a new idea of something you recently learned they will be super quick to share with you that they already tried it and will give you reasons why it won't work for them.
To get your school out of comfortable is a strategy called “follow the leader” you take the first step.
What is a collaborative culture?
This is truly a wonderful place for a school to get to, and it takes years of hard work and consistent discipline and commitment from the leader. I share beautiful stories, and examples in the workbook so make sure to download it.
Especially if you are thinking about what type of legacy you’ll be leaving for your teachers and community, I share in great depth some thought provoking questions to ask yourself about what kind of legacy you want to leave behind.
For now, think about this.
What type of legacy do you want to leave behind?
How would the teachers and parents describe your legacy?
Would the narrative be the same?
As Steven Covey shares, “begin with the end in mind.”
That’s all for now, to learn more about how you can create the culture you want in your school, Download the following School Culture Model: https://fdt-freebies.s3.amazonaws.com/SchoolCultureModel.pdf