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Being Proactive in Changing A School's Culture
Changing a School's Culture
Creating a Positive School Environment
copyright 2008, Jennifer Tyler
Change, as anyone knows, is not an easy adjustment to make without difficulties. Within education it is often the case that teachers and school personnel may be resistant to trying something that they feel may not work for fear of failure. However, without change it is obvious that we would never know what does and does not work, therefore change is essential to life. With that being said, it is important to establish and embody the culture of a school in order to produce positive results. According to Jackson and Veeneman-Panyan (2002) there are six avenues for embracing positive behavioral support within the school. First, it is important for schools to develop a mission statement of some sort indicating what goals and visions the school supports. This statement serves as the backbone for the goals that the school sets out to achieve. Not only that, but it acts as a guide for personnel and students alike. An effective way for the mission statement to be parlayed to everyone is through the placement of the statement in a conspicuous place where everyone can see it (Jackson & Veeneman-Panyan, 2002). Additionally, a handbook may be distributed containing the mission statement.
The next avenue of creating a positive environment deals with the development of school wide procedures for discipline (Jackson & Veeneman-Panyan, 2002). It should be noted that such policies and procedures are clearly stated so that students and parents know what is expected of them. For instance, policies for students who engage in fighting on school grounds need to be addressed if this is a concern. Students need to know what the consequences are for engaging in certain practices, otherwise this can be used as a weapon on the student’s part. Policies that are made can and should include movement and playground expectations, as well as cafeteria expectations. By doing so a school is being proactive in its attempt to curtail behaviors or deal with situations that arise.
Third, an effective school wide plan for the encouragement of professional advancement should be pursued (Jackson & Veeneman-Panyan, 2002). It is important for schools to address how they will deal with personnel issues that may require attention. For example, will the school provide training for its staff on how to work in a more effective way with all students? This is an important part of developing a positive school wide support program. Educators need to be given ample opportunity to learn about new strategies that are required in order for them to be successful as a team.
Next, the school may need to consider changing the structure of its organization if problems continue to arise and what changes may need to be made to the system. In other words, is there something wrong with the way the school is operating/ Do changes need to be implemented? A good example of this is a situation which I recently was part of. When I was hired at my current job it was said that many changes were made as a system reorganization. In my workplace last year there were serious problems with several staff and procedures. As a result, our organization fired many people who just were not working effectively as a team. So, in the essence, they totally restructured the program in order to make it more positive.
Finally, schools should have a plan set in place for evaluating the effectiveness of its organization and policies. This is the phase where assessment of current practices is considered and changes are made as necessary (Jackson & Veeneman-Panyan, 2002). A few ways that this can be accomplished is via checklists and inventory checks.
Being that schools are seemingly always under much scrutiny, it is important to realize that change wil not happen overnight but when it does, it will lead to positive results. Teaching in today's world requires more than just offering what comes out of a book; Teachers are constantly competing with many factors, including technology, lack of parental support, involvement in crime, and many others. As a result, teaching has to evolve to meet the changing times.