I am always on a mission to make schools a better place for ALL students. As the school year is coming to an end I want to discuss the importance of school culture. Sadly, I am in a lot of schools where the school culture is an 'Us versus Them' mentality. The teachers and administrators see themselves as the experts and parents as the enemy. This culture is not conducive to student learning. I often hear from school staff members that it is the other way around (parents see the school as the enemy). Educators need to have empathy to understand a parent perspective AND be in a school culture that is supportive to parents.
Most parents are NOT educators so they do not know how to teach their child specific academic skills and they trust that the teacher is the expert. When the student is not progressing or learning the parents become SCARED. A parent panics and asks for help only to be told it is them, the home environment, and/or the child. The reason behind this belief is in yesterday's blog post: "The Blame Game! Are School Problems the Kids' Fault?" by Pam Wright. Educators should put themselves in the position of the parent and see it from their point of view. If educators are the professionals they should be the ones to make the process better and not worse for parents and students. Educators should not become defensive when a parent is upset. The parent may sound like it is a personal attack against the teacher but the parent is really upset with the culture of the school, which allows the blaming and shaming to occur.
Here's a quick video that explains a little about culture in a school by Anthony Muhammad:
I have written a number of times about school culture and one that went viral shared thousands of times was "How to Have a Positive School to Build Self-esteem of All Students." The culture of the schools in our country need to change. All our children need to be an a culturally healthy environment!
PLEASE, watch this video and share it with everyone in the educational system. Get Anthony Muhammad's books - read them and share them!!! Here are a list of his books that are a must read for every parent, teacher, administrator, and school board member: Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division (2009) and The Will to Lead, the Skill to Teach: Transforming Schools at Every Level (2011).
Direct link to Moving the Bus Forward: Creating Healthy Learning Environments for All Students
In a healthy school culture, NO student should be failing-- it is just unacceptable! Teachers know that all students have the ability to succeed -they, as teachers, just need to tap into the right motivation and techniques to educate students. Dr. Muhammad writes in his book The Will to Lead, the Skill to Teach: Transforming Schools at Every Level (2011- p. 23)- "In his definition, Kent Peterson identifies four student characteristics that are prerequisites for school success: concern, attentiveness, prior knowledge, and compliance. Any educator would agree that these are important assets in the learning process and that not all students arrive at school predisposed to these characteristics. In toxic cultures, students are blamed for not possessing these characteristics, which releases adults from the responsibility of properly educating every student. This mentality is in direct conflict with the objective of public schools - learning for all."
So if your child attends a school where it is acceptable for some students to receive grades of D's and F's then your child is in a TOXIC culture (which means the student is NOT learning the necessary information - more about this in The Reason Behind Grades and How to Make Them Valid). If you have ever been to a school meeting where a school staff member blamed or shamed you or your child then this is a TOXIC school culture. There is no empathy for the parent of the student if blaming and shaming are occurring just because a student is NOT learning in a "typical" fashion and needs to be taught more explicitly. We as a society need to stop failing our children and make changes to the whole school system not just the curriculum (common core...). This article was written to enlighten you to the importance of school culture. I will have future articles on how to improve school culture. In the meantime read the books suggested to educate yourself!
Want to learn more go to Dr. Muhammad's website: New Frontier 21. Also, as an Educational Coach and Consultant I contract with schools to help build healthier school cultures so if interested in direct support contact me- Jill Lam MS.Ed, LPCC at Forest Alliance Coaching- 614-785-6405.