Monday, April 5, 2010

Creating School Culture

Battistuz, Susan. "Creating School Culture." HTM Dissemination Book. 2008

Summary/ Analysis:

This article discusses both the importance and methodology behind creating positive school culture. Susan Battistuz, the author is the director of a new High Tech High School in North County. Unlike most newly appointed directors, Susan focused less on content, standards and rigor in anticipation for the new school year than she did building rapport amongst staff and students so that her school was a fun, comfortable safe place in which to learn. She mentions several methods in achieving this goal; For staff she hosted a staff retreat where teachers collaborated, cooked and shared time together. In addition, she structured Summer meetings in such a way to include icebreakers and social events. For students, she organized a program called "Summer Bridge" in which students were acclimated with both each other and the High Tech High System. In addition, Susan centered early community meetings to be flexible and effective in establishing rapport betweeen teachers and students via the Teacher "Fashion Show." Lastly, Susan emphasizes the importance of "manipulating physical space." Decorating walls with student work helped ensure constituents that the school was built for them. Learning became a collective process.

I was struck by Susan´s attention to relationships between both staff and students. There was an overarching purpose behind each interaction pre- the 2008 school year. Her implementation of such methodology seemed to be very well received. Students appreciated being "able to be [themselves]" and felt like they "had more help from their teachers" than at previous schools. I would be interested in asking Susan more questions regarding the strategies she used to create a positive climate within her new school. The article is extremely affective in promulgating the methodology, however it does not go into detail regarding how to implement each strategy. I would love to sit in on a staff meeting at North County in order to understant how I can best implement such methodology in my own classroom. If anything, Susan´s insight was wonderful in re-inforcing the idea that positive, democratic school culture can exist.

Quotes: "I was not concerned with content; our primary focus was on establishing relationships— among staff, students with each other, and teachers with students-- in order to begin building a sense of community."

"I knew it was a project based learning school and with technology. I also knew a few school policies. I thought it would be better than just doing research, writing a paper, turning it in, and getting a grade, like at my old school. Now you do a project, it really teaches you, you're more involved. Summer Bridge reinforced the idea that this would be a better school than my last school. I was bored and unchallenged at my old school. I already knew some of the teachers, including my team teachers, this helped me to grasp expectations. I liked talking in front of class after the project during Summer Bridge...My favorite thing was researching whatever topic you wanted and then getting into groups and coming together to create a news story. We had different locations and everything." - Kelly, 8th grader at HTM

No comments:

Post a Comment