Culture of the school

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Culture of the school is built on values, beliefs, norms, rituals and patterns behavior that creates an identity of the school. The relationships of administration, teachers, students and the parents define an environment to work together and make up an impression that ultimately becomes the unwritten identity of the institution.

Every school sets up a vision and defines the benchmark and value expectations for its staff and the students; based on which, all the processes, methodologies and teaching techniques are adopted. How successful is management in implanting the vision depends upon the relationships at every level among administration, teachers, students and parents and how willing are individuals to bring a change in themselves and their environment.

The elements defining culture of the school could be like policies, curriculum, schedules, rituals, ceremonies, rewards and assessment criteria's etc. All these elements set up expectations and structure of school life.

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Scholars from different institutes have covered the subject defining different benchmarks to audit the culture of educational institutes and to bring reforms in the schooling foundation, few of the examples are:

"School Culture Assessment" by Indiana department of education. The paper is a design of survey to conduct and grade the school environment. The questionnaire defines three major areas named task, process and relationships. It contains 17 questions and the results are based on the grading of scale 1-5 for each question. The higher sum shows higher values. The areas covered are empowerment and team building of teachers, the level of satisfaction, problem solving approach, communication and relationships among the staff.

The Middle level Leadership Center of University of Missouri defines the culture of school in terms of collaborative leadership, teacher collaboration, Professional development, unity of purpose and learning partnership.

Mary Ann Raywid in her research "Resizing America's high schools. NCREL" emphases on the teachers to make their own climate and define the school culture in terms of decision making processes, expectations, curriculum, extra-curricular activities, rituals and gradual requirements.

As per Terry Deal and Dr. Kent Peterson in "The Shaping School Culture Fieldbook": School culture is a set of values, norms, beliefs, traditions and norms that defines the rule set how to feel, think and behave in an organization.

Dr. Kent Emphases on the symbols, artifacts, mottos and slogans that establish a vision to be the fundamental element in defining school culture. No other values and expectations can be set and practiced if there is no vision. The principals have to role-model themselves in a leadership role for both staff and students. Every gesture and communication of the head of institute is a chance for him or her to reinforce the culture in the team and students.

"Good Seeds Grow in Strong Cultures" by Jon Saphier and Matthew King; defines 12 norms that affect school improvement:

Sergiovanni established fundamentals of school building on five forces:

Technical means managerial: scheduling or delegation of tasks, human skills are interpersonal: group activities, individual listening etc., Educational skills refer to knowledge and teaching methodologies symbolic refers to core vision and cultural refers to the norms practiced such as the 12 discussed in the previous section.

Methods and Procedures

Statement of the Problem

What we have tried to conduct is an audit of school culture in our sample (OPF School Branch) taking a survey of teacher with our questionnaire. The objective is to measure the school functionality in terms of students' growth and to create an outlined picture of school impression in terms of administration, discipline, team orientation and measures for the growth and development of students.

Sample

We conducted an anonymous survey in the school of 15 teachers, the questions and responses are as follows:

Techniques and tools

The survey has been conducted web. No identities were asked to make sure that true opinion is casted. The tool to measure the response is based on agreement to the statement with 5 options: Strongly Disagree (SD), Disagree (D), Neutral/ Neither agree nor disagree (N), Agree (A) and Strongly Agree (SA).

The Survey

Questionnaire and the Response Recorded

Analysis

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Question 1 to 8 describe implanting management vision and targeting relationships between teachers and administration. Since in our survey we give out participant freedom of expression without disclosing their names, we are able to collect a good feedback of the staff in this section. Improvements are required at management side to gain the trust of teachers by providing equal opportunities irrespective of hierarchy and tenure of service, and also motivation and team building shows some areas of improvements.

Questions 9 to 14 are focused on team orientation and teachers' self motivation. A very good response has been recorded in this section.

Question 15 to 23 are targeting teaching methodologies and development strategies for the students. We are pleased to find a strong positive feedback in this section especially in group activities, extra-curricular and individual attention towards students.

The core values of school culture audited in this survey can be listed as:

Innovation: A good feedback has been observed in teaching methodologies and participation of teachers in planning curriculum and teaching methodologies. Still there is a room of improvement; management needs to be more transformational to create a good learning environment introducing activity based learning.

Stability and trust: Administrative reforms are required to strengthen the trust level and facilitate the teachers. This is the only area we have highlighted in this particular case-study that needs some attention.

Control: The institute has a well defined structure of management and goals set for the individuals. The policies implementation is very much structured.

Attention to details: Teachers are promoting individual learning and communication with parents is maintained at a good level.

Outcome Orientation: The institute provides a healthy environment encouraging efforts with trophies and certificates to both teachers and students. The Assessment method of teachers need to more focused on their achievements scaled on overall improvements of and growth of their students.

People Orientation: A healthy communication level has been maintained among teachers, students and parents. That helps in development of individual skills and overcome weaknesses of the students.

Team Orientation: A very strong feedback has been recording to all questions regarding team spirit among teachers. This is a very healthy sign and a very important factor building culture of the institute. Activities and games need to be more planned and strategically designed for students to make them learn the team orientation.

Decision making and aggressiveness: The institute support part of teachers in the decision making and encourage individual efforts taken as per the situation and problem solving requirement.

Key values and believes: The vision is reflecting in the methodologies and discipline. The staff loyalty is measured very high in this organization.

Role Model: The teachers present themselves as a role model to students to keep the high moral values and this encourages self motivation among students.

Conclusions

The school represents deep rooted cultural values implanted in the teachers and students with a clear vision, loyalty to institute, promoting healthy learning environment with individual attention paid to each student. The rituals, rewards, and extra-curricular activates help creating an excellent development environment for students and improve their skill sets. The team orientation of the institute is very high and creates a family environment which makes teachers put extra effort on their work.