Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Culture Club or not?

Lately I have been trying to understand the culture of a school, my school, your school, my wife’s school. I don’t fully understand the one at my school even though I have been here 37 years. I think that hurts me and it hurts my interaction with all the people walking the halls of “my” school. And that right there may be a big part of the problem, it is NOT “my” school. It is the students' school.

Let me try to explain more. I found myself getting frustrated with some of the questions I was being asked. As I reflected back on those questions and who was asking, I started realizing that the people asking were newer to the school, newer to the diocese as well. While they were in some cases seasoned educators, they were not seasoned at our school or the diocese.

With that in mind I am now trying to better think about how we can help to enculturate newer people in to the school’s culture. That then means I have to fully understand our school’s culture and what exactly that might be for someone.

For a school in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas there are things which people look for such as “Catholic Identity.” What makes our school Catholic? And are we Catholic with a big C or catholic with a little c. Is being Catholic our culture? Is being well versed in the use of technology our culture? Is being service oriented our culture? Is being an inner city school our culture?

As a result of some of this thinking I now have more questions than answers and would appreciate any input you might have. How do you define your school’s culture? Is the culture of a school important? How can we help newer people to our school understand and participate in that culture? Do you think about school culture are am I way off base? Let me know.

So much to learn and so little time.


Alfred C Thompson II said...

Like you I teach at a Catholic school. We are not a diocesan school though but are run by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. One of the things that means is that the rule of the brothers is a basic part of the running and culture of the school. There are a number of the brothers deeply involved in the running of the school. Next year we will have our first president who is not a brother but there will still be a number of brothers involved. The brothers live "above the store" which is to say their residence is part of the school building. That seems to mean something intangible.
Ultimately I believe that a school's culture is integral to its success or lack there of. One of our mottos is that each student is known, valued and treasured. That motto influences most of our interactions with students and parents and among the faculty/staff.

Aimee Bartis said...

I think this is important to think about no matter type school you work or teach at.
The question becomes who's doing the indoctrination? The malcontents? This, of course, will lead to more malcontents.
A lead must model and spread the culture they want the school to have. If our school is full of life long learners, the leader needs to demonstrate his or her life long learning and expect that of others.
Culture has to be explicit or you never know what you'll get

Aimee Bartis said...

Culture has to be explicit or you never know what you'll get.
Leaders should model the environment they want to see. If our school is full of life long learners, the leader needs to demonstrate his or her life long learning.
You have to be careful who's doing the cultural indoctrination. If leadership isn't doing it then the malcontents will. And that will lead to more malcontents.

Paul R. Wood said...

Alfred, Bishop Dunne was also started by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur. Some of those same ideals and principles are incorporated into our school. Still trying to figure all of this out. I appreciate your insights and you input.


Paul R. Wood said...


I agree with who is doing the indoctrination. However, no guarantees the malcontents won't get a hold of the folks later on. I appreciate your insights. I think culture does play a significant role in our schools. Still trying to get a grasp of the whole thing.

Thank you,