Prepare an analysis of 1,000−1,250 words in which you address the following aspects of school culture and climate. Identify:
1. Whether your school is conventional, congenial, or collegial.
2. What type of supervisory climate exists on your campus.
3. Whether your current school leader is conventional, congenial, or collegial.
4. The leadership method and style exhibited in your current setting.
Support each identification request above with specific data (behaviors) that defend your analysis. Give detailed examples that will support your content. Provide a research-based recommendation on strategies that can be employed by leadership in your school to enhance collegiality and collaboration within your school organization. Be thorough in your recommendations. Support your paper with at least five scholarly references. Prepare this assignment according to the APA guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center. An abstract is not required. Strong leadership within a school is necessary however with the increased support of the common core state standards, teachers are expected to take on a role that goes above and beyond the classroom. The school this author teaches in is predominately conventional.
Conventional schools are easily recognized because little communication exists between staff and leadership (Hawkins, 2012). The principal is a strong leader with strong ideas and not very approachable when others have ideas that could ultimately help the children. Heck (2010) claims school leadership exerts a measurable, albeit indirect effect on student learning. When a principal is not willing to share that leadership all stakeholders will suffer, including the students. The principal has poor communication skills. There has not been a faculty meeting in the last three months leaving the staff wondering what is going on and afraid to ask because she may not be in the mood to discuss any situation. The school does not have time for grade level meetings. There is no time set aside for teachers to collaborate about students, problems, or even class field trips. This causes teachers to become overwhelmed and frustrated because they cannot share their ups and downs with others.
Observations are a way to bring a teacher down. They are conducted in a way that degrades the teacher and does not offer any constructive criticism. This creates a climate where teachers feel inferior and ineffective when in reality the school and its teachers are not. Kallestad (2010) states that school climate has clear parallels to other concepts like school culture and teachers’ professional communities. This climate also gives outsiders the perception that the school is ineffective when again, that is not the case as shown through test scores. The principal has the power to change these deficits into opportunities. She creates the schedule and could easily set a schedule where teachers had collaboration time built into their day. The school has people available to cover classrooms for a short twenty minute collaboration. Even allowing teachers to collaborate two or three times a week would be helpful if that is all the schedule could allow. The school does have some qualities of a congenial climate.
The teaching staff is very close. Many of the teachers have been in this school for over ten years and work very hard for student achievement. The staff will take the initiative to try to create a climate that is fun and friendly through a sunshine committee that plans spirit week for students and staff, fun grams throughout different holidays such as Valentine’s Day or Christmas, or pizza lunch because it’s the one-hundredth day of school. The teaching staff is reflective and teachers often look to improve lessons if a student is not comprehending the task or if the outcome is not what the teacher expected. The blame does not solely rest on the student. Teachers in this school are willing to see that not all students learn the same way and differentiation is a must. This school could easily transform into a school with a congenial climate. Collegiality amongst the teaching staff is already a present concept within this schools setting. The teaching staff already takes the initiative to collaborate with each other on their own time. Teachers have formed a strong bond within grade levels and across grade levels.
There are many teachers willing to offer help, advice or model lessons for other teachers. Teacher leadership would be a smooth transition because the leadership within the school already exists. Akert and Martin (2012) state the culture of teacher leadership entails teachers to engage in collaboration, professional dialogue, share ideas and problem solve classroom issues. This occurs within the school, but is not encouraged by the principal. Akert and Martin (2012) also state that a principals’ job is to create a culture in which principals and teachers lead together. The teaching staff is ready and willing to participate in that climate, however the principal is not ready to change her style of leadership. Teacher leadership benefits all. Teachers are natural leaders within the classroom and many take on the leadership role outside the classroom without even knowing it.
Teacher leadership does not have to be formal. Teacher leadership is the power to shape meaning for children, youth and adults (Akert & Martin, 2012). In the past, this school has participated in action research. This also leads this author to believe a change to a congenial climate would be smooth and seamless. Kulski and Kerr (2012) believe action research is a well-established methodology for educators to examine their teaching practice. This author was involved in that action research which looked like a good plan on paper but when time was needed to collaborate on the outcome, the principal did not give enough release time for the study to be examined. Communication was lacking and the study did not help those that participated. Action research could be an effective way to identify problems if conducted and collaborated upon properly. In this case the action research was ineffective and wasted a lot of time. In the future, this school could try experiential learning.
Experiential learning associates practice with theory (Basque & Bouchamma, 2012). Action and reflection go hand in hand. Experience leads to knowledge. The current principal is retiring this year and a new principal will be assigned to this school. Hopefully the new principal will favor a climate with mutual respect and open collaboration. The experiential learning teachers would have the chance to reflect on their practices and share those reflections with other teaching staff and administration in an open forum knowing there will not be any judgments, just constructive criticism to enhance their teaching. The more feedback a teacher can get, the more growth that teacher will feel within her practice. In conclusion, this school is lucky to have a strong staff that is more than willing to collaborate, share ideas, and turnkey information through professional development opportunities. Leadership styles and different aspects of collegial collaboration and support affect teacher commitment and the outcome of schooling (Kallestad, 2010). With a change in leadership in the near future, hopefully there will be a change in leadership styles making the school climate a more respectful place of learning. If this were to occur, students would feel the ease of teachers within the classroom which in turn would enhance learning and create a more welcoming climate for all stakeholders.