Professional Learning Communities and School Culture in an ...

2010 Dr. Kent D. Peterson University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI [email protected] Positive school cultures foster trust , collaboration, and improvement. Negative cultures foster distrust, isolation, and lack of change.

At a deeper level, all organizations, especially schools, improve performance by fostering a shared system of norms, folkways, values, and traditions. These infuse the enterprise with passion, purpose, and a sense of spirit. (Peterson and Deal, 2002) School culture influences how people think, feel, and act. Culture is a key determinant of staff

focus, commitment, motivation, and productivity.

Norms, Values and Beliefs that underlie thinking, feeling and acting Symbols and Artifacts that Communicate Meaning Stories that Herald Values Cultural Network Heroes and Heroines Rituals, Traditions, and Ceremonies Culture is the way we do things around here!

Negative Values and beliefs No Shared sense of purpose Negative Relationships. Destructive individuals or groups. No sense of trust or caring.

Few positive rituals or ceremonies to build a sense of community and hopefulness. (2009) Deal and Peterson Culture has strong norms and values as a foundation. Such as: Norms Norms

Norms Norms trust of of of of Improvement Collegiality Caring

group and individual What hallways and classrooms look like. Relationships among staff. How newcomers are treated. Relationships between staff and administration. How students who are struggling are treated. Relationships with parents and the community. How staff collaborate to improve the school. How successes and accomplishments are celebrated. (Deal and Peterson, 2009)

Build Community Shape the Culture Revive Energy What are your most meaningful ceremonies and celebrations?

Conduct a school history. List Six Adjectives to describe your school. Think of a song that depicts your culture. Create a metaphor If my school were an animal, it would be a _______ because_________________________. Interview a schools storytellers.

What are the best aspects of your culture? What are the less positive aspects of your culture? What aspects are missing? Prioritize what you would like to work on

to improve your school culture. Work with the informal network Recount stories and history Role model core norms and values

Use symbols and artifacts Communicate core values in your actions Use ceremonies and celebrations to recognize accomplishments

Are there ceremonies throughout the year? Are there communal events during the demanding times of the year? When will the team meet and work together? When will the team meet and have fun together? When will you celebrate your


Write an advertisement for the school you want to be in 5 years. Describe the culture. Detail how you work together. Note the core norms and values you will hold then. Suggest what the mission will look like. Be clear, detailed, and specific. Be hopeful but honest. Teachers usually have no way of knowing that they have made a

difference in a childs life, even when they have made a dramatic one Good teachers put snags in the river of children passing by, and, over the years, they redirect hundreds of lives [Great schools are] made up of people who can never really know the good they have done. Kidder (1989): Among Schoolchildren

Effective Schools Research (Edmonds; Brookover; Lezotte) Shaping School Culture (Deal and Peterson) School Reform Literature (Fullan) Professional Learning Communities (DuFour; Louis; Kruse) Good to Great (Collins) Balanced Leadership (Marzano et al) School Culture Surveys (Valentine)

a mission focused on student and teacher learning a rich sense of history and purpose core values of collegiality, performance, and improvement that engender quality, achievement, and learning for everyone positive beliefs and assumptions about the potential of students and staff to learn and grow a strong professional community that uses knowledge, experience, and research to improve practice an informal network that fosters positive communication flows leadership that balances continuity and improvement rituals and ceremonies that reinforce core cultural values stories that celebrate successes and recognize heroines and

heroes a physical environment that symbolizes joy and pride a widely shared sense of respect and caring for everyone Source: Shaping School Culture: Pitfalls, Paradoxes and Promises 2nd Ed. (2009). Terrence Deal and Kent Peterson, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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