Sunday, September 11, 2011

Culture of Instructional Improvement: A Culture for Change

The goal of every school must be to create and maintain a true culture for growth and instructional improvement. A culture of growth and instructional improvement has its foundations in a "culture for change." A definition for  a culture of change permeates within an environment where individuals throughout the system contribute to a plan designed to improve student learning. The plan is flexible and has room to evolve, as determined by student needs. In order to meet the challenge of a culture for change, the teachers, administration and support staff must adapt decisions and behaviors with one question in mind: What will best fit the needs of students? This takes a commitment to all areas of school improvement, ranging from professional development and curriculum to discipline and agreed-upon values. It, most importantly, requires a plan, as well as a leader willing to take the first step towards developing a culture for change. People will be involved in the school’s progress at different levels and in different ways, but everyone will contribute to the process. A culture of changes will come to the school as learning goals are met by individuals, groups and by the system as whole.

The plan, however, is useless unless all staff members believe it is important to support and to contribute to the changing culture.  A true culture for change allows its stakeholders to contribute to the process, as well as to the school’s vision. Essentially, the teachers “own” the culture of change, and therefore make a commitment to its every-changing improvement. The principal must make a conscience effort to foster this environment of ownership, pride and unity. In any school across America, one would find a staff comprised of individuals with different beliefs, values, education levels and talents. The individual teachers have developed their own classroom and teaching philosophies, whether on their own or through the help of another educator or mentor. In a culture where growth is continuous , the teachers support and compliment one another’s efforts –despite their diverse personal and professional philosophies. They overcome their differences through trust and communication, as well as through their unified commitment to their students. Throughout the school year, the teachers, together, will tackle common – and uncommon – student and curriculum issues. When situations or outcomes require changes, the staff – as well as their plan – must be flexible. Schools, and their staff members, must be willing to be progressive and anticipate needed changes. A culture of change is proactive in every aspect of school life, especially curriculum. A learning school strives to never be reactive and very much favors a site-based management plan.

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