Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Validating belief . . .

In this Seattle Times Education Lab Blog post, Claudia Rowe interviews Matt Chaltain author of  “Our School: Searching for Community in the Era of Choice.”  I haven't seen the book and don't see myself reading it, but the question and answer below caught my attention.

Q: What’s common to good schools — whether publicly or privately funded?
A: The truth is most schools are pretty good. Very few are truly great. But among those you see again and again that they create a culture among the adults that is collaborative, transparent and empowering. Kids pass through. Adults are the keepers of the culture. The way that you make lasting change is by valuing and supporting the adults, the educators. We may give lip service to this, but we lack sufficient examples of how to do it well. The reality is, we’re still more likely to be persuaded by the illusory hardness of the quantitative proof — test scores — even though there is an overwhelming consensus that reading and math scores are not enough.

So much of what I believe is embedded in this answer to what makes schools good.  It is at the heart of our consensus decision making in two Association agreements.  It captures the importance of the focus on culture and my belief in the need for transparency in our work.  It shares our belief in the need for teacher voice in major decisions impacting classrooms when the doors close and it demands capacity for adults to sustain conversations on difficult and emotional issues driving the need for our foundation of communication knowledge and skills.  I would say that we are good and are on the organizational learning journey to the great that Chaltain refers to in his answer.


Jonathan said...


I have had two children go through our schools, and I currently have one child in a middle school and one in an elementary, but I believe you are in a unique place to evaluate the adults in our system as "keepers of the culture".

Though I know this is a very difficult challenge, could you describe the culture of each school in our system with a single sentence?


MV Plinker said...

I tried doing a 'culture sentence' for my building and it is really hard! I rescind the challenge. :-)