Monday, March 18, 2013

Climate or Culture

I often hear the terms "climate" and "culture" used interchangeably but they are not the same thing. The culture of your school reflects those long-standing shared beliefs, those patterns of behavior that reflect those beliefs and the things that uniquely characterize your school. A culture is often evident in things like rituals and ceremonies in a school, the stories people tell about the school and the people in the school community, the way people are recognized and rewarded and the people who are held in high esteem.

A school's climate is far more immediate and current. The climate may be impacted by recent events like achieving high test scores, the arrival of a new principal, recent contract negotiations, changes in school funding or adoption of a new evaluation system.

Over time your school's climate impacts it's culture. The way you respond to events like those mentioned earlier signals something about the prevailing culture. So, when unexpected, or planned, events occur it is important to think about how your immediate response can, over time, shape your school's culture.

The way principals spend their time, the things they talk about, the way they build relationships with students, families and staff, and the way they recognize people are all an indicator of underlying values and beliefs, the very beliefs reflected in your school's culture. The most successful leaders recognize the connection and look for opportunities to positively shape their school's culture by being very attentive to the routine activities that contribute to their school's climate.

I'd enjoy hearing from you about how you work to shape your school's culture.

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