Taking Stock Of Your Child’s School Culture

by Queenie on August 19, 2010

AImage of Queenies the school year is approaching it is very important that you, as a parent, know exactly what type of environment you are sending your child into. We know that you are deeply concerned about giving your child the best educational opportunity, and making sure their school year is very successful. But it’s not enough to believe that this will happen simply because your school has high test scores, or that your child’s teacher is nice. It’s quite the contrary. The sum total of your child’s success is deeply contingent upon the schools culture. Below I have attached a survey that list the norms/values that are needed to ensure a child’s success within a school. The norms and values used in this survey were derived from the work of Jonathan Saphier and Matthew King(1985). Richard Sagor took this survey and used it in his research. Sagor’s work reveals that schools that rated high on these norms increased student optimism, supported faculty, and greatly increased student achievement. I encourage you to use this norm/value list to rate your child’s school on a scale from 1-4, and provide an example of each. Take some time with this, as it will give you a greater picture of your child’s school and their potential success within that learning environment.

*Norm or Value

1. Collegiality– Professional collaboration on educational issues

2. Experimentation-Interest in exploring new, not yet proven techniques

3. High Expectations-A pervasive push for high performance for students and teachers

4. Trust and Confidence– A pervasive feeling that people will do what’s right.

5. Tangible Support-Financial and material assistance that supports teaching and learning

6. Reaching Out to the Knowledge Base- Use of research, reading of professional journals, and attending workshops

7. Appreciation and Recognition- Acknowledgement of high-quality student and faculty work and effort

8. Caring-Celebration-Humor

9. Appreciation of Leadership-Leadership provided by teachers, principles and other professional staff

10. Clarity of Goals

11. Protection of What’s Important-School goals and priorities

12. Involvement of Stakeholders in Decision Making -Those who will be affected by decisions are involved in making them

13. Traditions-Rituals and events that celebrate and support core school values

14. Honest, Open Communications

My hope is that by taking stock of your child’s school, you will get a strong sense of knowing if the school that you chose for them is safe, and if it will offer them an inviting learning experience. If you rated your child’s school high, you can feel safe and confident that your school community is there to help your child bring forth their gifts and talents. Take stock and let me know how well your rating went.

*The norms and values used in this survey were derived from the work of Jonathan Saphier and Matthew King (1985). Sagor, R. Local control and accountability: How to get it, keep it, and improve school performance, pp.105-107, copyright 1996 by Corwin.

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Queenie Lindsey is an academic coach and educational consultant. She is the founder of Tandem Teaching and Distinguished Learning Group, an academic coaching firm. Follow her on Twitter.

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