REWIRE: Transforming School Culture

Steve Gruenert & Todd Whitaker have skillfully addressed a topic that can often seem nebulous to an educator—school culture.  The authors establish the difference in a school’s climate and its culture:  “climate is around us . . . while culture is part of us.”  The reader is reminded that the school culture will never be changed by simply adjusting the environment; true school improvement (cultural change) comes when internal change comes to stakeholders within the school climate.

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Chapter 4 asks the $64,000 question – What type of culture do you want?”   Educators often tell me that they desire to see a “change in culture” within their school; admittedly I am often left hanging—the question is obvious.  What new culture is desired?  The authors identify various types of school culture, encouraging school leaders to identify their present state as well as target a new type of culture.

Closing the Gap

Michael Fullan is an internationally recognized authority on educational reform.  His ideas have informed the thinking of thousands of educators in many countries.  His long list of published works includes The New Meaning of Educational Change, published in its 4th edition in 2007.  This summer, while reading Chapter 3, “Insights Into the Change Process,” I scribbled in the margin of my book “Wow, I don’t agree!”  Let’s take a look at the statement in Fullan’s book that caused me to write that and a connection that I believe exists to an issue we are discussing often today, the Common Core Standards.

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In Chapter 3, Mr. Fullan (2007) lists ten “elements of successful change.”  He expands each of the ten elements with explanation that is often insightful and challenging.  My copy of the book is filled with highlights and my personal notes, most in agreement.  What, then, prompted me to write “Wow, I don’t agree!”

Teaching in the Christian School, Part 2

Today’s post is continued from Tuesday.  If you missed it, be sure to check it out here.

Next, let us consider service in a Christian school from the viewpoint of teacher efficiency and effectiveness. Every teacher has available to him what I call “Package X.” This package consists of the sum total of his intelligence, knowledge, mental acumen, skills, drive, stamina, enthusiasm, etc. The Christian teacher will be able to do a much more effective job in the Christian school because, for the most part, certain prerequisites for a profitable teaching/learning situation are met, such as acceptable student behavior and discipline, openness and responsiveness, nonhostile attitudes, inclination toward Christian precepts and philosophy.

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While none of the above can be taken for granted, it is a matter of record and experience that in these areas a marked difference exists between the Christian and the public school. In the Christian school, a greater portion of “Package X” can, therefore, be expended in the actual teaching, molding, and guiding of the learner rather than in enforcing discipline, overcoming hostility, establishing one’s own credibility, and all too often attempting merely to survive in a place that resembles a battlefield rather than a classroom. Clearly, if a teacher must concern himself with such challenges, little time or energy is left for actual teaching.

Teaching in the Christian School, Part 1

Knowing the commitment of Bob Jones University to the cause of Christian education and its desire to place into Christian schools as many qualified teachers as possible, a letter writer recently asked me to comment on the apparent inconsistency of its position with Matthew 5:13-16.

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This passage identifies the Christian as the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and the city set on a hill. To withdraw our influence from the public schools and leave their teachers and students without a Christian witness, she stated, seemed to render ineffective the Christian’s role defined in the above verses.