School Culture

2 Jun

There is plenty of literature and research in recent years that cites positive teacher-student interaction as the biggest factor in improving student learning. In other words, better teaching equals better learning. This year with our new mentoring programme we are going a long way to develop this.

Hattie advocates that each of these factors accounts for only 5-10% variance in student achievement and therefore we should focus our efforts on the teaching and improving what happens in the classroom. While I don’t disagree with this (remember students quit teachers, not subjects), I think we need to remember that what happens in the classroom does not happen in isolation. The minor factors of Home, Schools, Principals and Peer Effects total about 20% – but is this insignificant? I would also argue that not only is 20% a reasonably large contribution to student achievement, but that also these things greatly impact what is happening in the classroom.

‘School Culture’ is everything that exists outside of the classroom (essentially, the “20 %”). The ‘Center for Improving School Culture’, a North American institute, encapsulates my thoughts even better by suggesting that School Culture “is shared experiences both in and out of school, such as traditions and celebrations, a sense of community, of family, and team”.

Our school has started the strategic planning process. At Staff Briefing on a Friday we are asking what will a great school culture look like at our school? It has to be more than shared morning teas and singing contests. It has to be a focused on teaching and learning opportunities. The journey continues…

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