It’s hard to believe, but TODAY is the last day for participants to jump in to our conversation (see here) on school culture with Anthony Muhammad—author of Transforming School Culture:  How to Overcome Staff Division.  After three days of brilliance from dozens of commenters, I feel good about what we’ve learned together.

If you’re looking to get caught up on our conversation quickly, check out our summary posts (see here and here).  You can also check out the following strands of conversation which started yesterday:

My girl Renee is driving thinking again on slide 3, bringing up the idea of how a school’s culture is passed down from experienced teachers to new teachers in a somewhat informal and unstructured way.  The question, then, becomes how can schools do a better job ensuring that systematic time and attention is placed on passing down the positive elements of school culture—-what Anthony might call Believer Behaviors—rather than leaving that process to chance?

On slide 4, Chuck asks a question that falls into the same line of thinking.  Understanding that the most effective schools operate from a set of stated and shared core values, he asks whether buildings looking to change should roll out new sets of belief statements all at once or bit-by-bit.  I think the tension hidden in Chuck’s question is probably real for all of us.  We recognize that slow change efforts hurt kids—especially in our most dysfunctional buildings—but rushed change efforts fail.  Where’s the balance?

Our first “celebrity guest sighting” happens on slide 6 when Naomi Thiers—an editor over at ASCD’s Educational Leadershipquestions whether or not school scheduling practices send inherent messages about a building’s values.  Referring specifically to the practice in high schools of rewarding veteran teachers with honors classes and sticking new teachers in challenging ninth grade positions, Naomi asks how common these practices are and whether an adherence to such systems is evidence of a school’s unwillingness to put students first.

And finally, Lynn starts a strand on slide 8 that rings true to me when she wonders whether the push towards using data to drive decision making in schools has changed the nature of relationships between teachers and students, creating buildings that are “cold, harsh places without feeling.”  I’m equally curious about whether the push towards data has changed the nature of relationships between educators working together on learning teams.

So stop by Voicethread today, huh?

Find a way to contribute to this conversation before it closes to comments at 5:00 today!  While you’ll always be able to access the dialogue and share the link with colleagues, this is your last chance to lend your thoughts to the collective knowledge we’re building together.

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