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Dr. Les Potter has over 53 years in education in the US and Egypt with 45 years in school and university administration. Currently Les is retired from full time employment but is a consultant at Core...
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Tips For Educators: School Culture

What to experience as you are applying for a new school.

Every school has a culture.

When you have a group of people together for any period of time, a culture emerges that consists of a set of customs, beliefs, values and norms. This culture can either create a sense of mutual purpose, a mission, a vision, values, and goals or perpetrate discord. Every school has a culture, unseen but it is there. A very important aspect of school. A positive culture can make for a positive and happy environment, a good place to work. If you work in a school that has a negative or poor culture, then you probably will not enjoy your experience. This obviously affects your performance and how you feel. Unfortunately, I have seen teachers and administrators that did not “fit in” with a school culture and they can’t wait to leave. This is one reason why in the United States 50% of teachers leave the profession within their first five years.

When you are thinking about applying for a school, it is important to investigate the school’s culture. I don’t believe you want to start a job and then immediately want to transfer.

Culture consists of the beliefs, behaviors, and symbols characteristics of an organization. More specifically, culture is defined as stated philosophies, ideologies, beliefs, feelings, expectations, attitudes, norms and values.

While there is considerable variation in the definitions of a school culture, it appears that most contain some of the following characteristics:

Feelings: an overall atmosphere is conveyed in an organization by the physical layout and the way in which members interact peers and others.

Rules: guidelines exist for getting along in the organization or what is needed to be learned by the newcomers in order to “fit in”. Is what is written and said, reality? Or is it just words?

Philosophy: policies guide an organization’s beliefs about how employees and students should be treated. Most schools have theses policies and statements.

Dominant Values: an organization espouses and expects its members to share major values.

Norms: standards of behavior evolve in work groups. The impact of the work group behavior results in standards and yardsticks that are sanctioned by group norms.

Observed Behavioral Regulations: when organizational members interact they use common language, terminology, rituals, and ceremonies related to deference and demeanor.

Do your research about the school you are thinking about applying to. Even in the interview, as they are accessing you, you should be accessing the culture of the school and if this the place for you.

Dr. Les Potter
Founder of Potter’s Educational Services
A free service for educators
Reviewing CVs, cover letters and interviews
[email protected]