Guiding School Improvement with Action Research

By Richard Sagor | Go to book overview

Epilogue: Building a High-Efficacy
Culture in Schools

To reduce the concept of organizational culture to the basics, we could say, [Culture is the way we do things here!] Patterns of behavior in any community are powerful. It becomes very hard, even risky, to stand against the prevailing pattern of behavior in any society or organization. Furthermore, it has been documented that, more often than not, culture is so powerful that culture changes people rather than the other way around. The main problem this book has tried to address is how to change the low professional efficacy of educators and in turn improve student performance. I firmly believe the root of the challenge is the prevailing organizational culture in many schools.


Prevailing Norms

In some schools, the culture, or [the way we do things here,] involves a profound resistance to challenging old ideas on teaching, learning, and the nature of students. In some of these same venues, the organizational culture includes norms that support individualism over collective responsibility for the education of children. In such places [the way we do things here] implies [we won't share ideas, we won't criticize each other, and we won't otherwise interfere with each other's work.]

In other schools, the prevailing norms couldn't be more different. In these [learning communities,] the normal behavior is to share ideas, critique suggestions, visit each other's rooms, celebrate diversity, and wonder continuously, [What if…?] In these schools the values of the old African proverb [It takes a village to raise a child] become incorporated into a way of life. Observing life in these schools reveals a near constant dissatisfaction with the status quo, but the situation doesn't become a

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