Culture: What impact does the creation of a positive school culture have on school reform?
School reform takes time, hard work and commitment. It is not something that can be done overnight and not something that will show positive results if only implemented by a small percentage of the teachers, staff, students and other stakeholders. If a school reform effort is to be successful, there must be buy-in by a critical mass and it must be implemented with fidelity to the core components, values and beliefs. This takes strong leadership, but it also takes all members of the team pulling together. If the school culture is negative – if there is no shared vision, little to no collaboration and communication, if disorder and unruliness are the norm, if there is a lack of respect between colleagues and between teachers, students and parents, and if there is an overall atmosphere of despair, apathy or hopelessness, the reform effort will fail. The most highly rated reform model will not make a significant difference if a pervasive negative school culture stands in the way of implementation.
Conversely, when the school community has developed a positive culture, they have the foundation upon which to build reform efforts, pull together, and get the hard work accomplished. If you want people to put in 110%, they have to believe in the cause, feel their contributions are acknowledged and that their collaborative efforts make a difference - this gives them ownership. The entire staff should feel that they are a part of the reform not that the reform is just something that has been externally imposed upon them.