“I think we are doing pretty well. We do a lot of great things.”
“Let’s ask around, see what people tell us. Let’s start with our own students and teachers and see what we hear.”
This was the question and exchange I recently heard from a group of high school teachers. They were on the right track when they decided to start assessing their school culture by polling their own people.
I wonder what you will learn about your school if you ask around. Some feedback might be hard to hear, but it will surely open your eyes a bit. It’s amazing what you can find out by simply asking! I am certain you would rather hear hard truths than rely on guesses and assumptions.
I wonder what you will feel if you walk around your campus with your eyes and ears open in a different way. Most days, educators quickly move from space to space, focused on getting to where they need to be. It’s understandable. But what do you see and feel if you slow down a bit and really focus on the environment you are in vs. just passing through it? What happens as people pass one another? What happens in stairways, busy hallways, lunch lines, in the bathrooms? How do people treat one another? What do people seem to feel is ok, is normal?
What do people say if you ask them: “How does our school feel? What do we allow here? What are our habits?”
Sure, you can ask someone from the outside what they feel when they visit your school but I encourage you to ask yourself first. Next, ask other people who are at your school every day. Then, see what someone else thinks and feels about your school.
If you want to assess school culture, start by feeling it for yourself. See what you discover and decide what you want to change and what you want to celebrate!