Accelerating the Learning of All Students: Cultivating Culture Change in Schools, Classrooms, and Individuals

By Christine Finnan; Julie D. Swanson | Go to book overview

in place. The process must encourage open dialogue, research into more effective ways of teaching, and exposure to new and different strategies and ideas. Change processes have to happen at the school level, with local, state, and national input.

Fourth, purposeful change takes time. It goes without saying that ambitious goals cannot be reached quickly. The kind of deep change required to change assumptions, values, actions, and responsibilities takes time. Too often we become impatient for change to happen quickly. This leads to superficial change and frustration. We need to keep in mind that although assumptions are hard to change, once they have changed, they are unlikely to revert.

Fifth, people must realize that the change process is complex and that simple solutions do not exist. Although purposeful change requires a shared vision and a commitment by everyone in the school to work toward it, the route to this vision is rarely linear or clear. Many people must be involved in cultivating change, and they each have their own sets of assumptions that shape their actions. Changing assumptions occurs one person at a time, and sometimes in a "two steps forward, one step backward" manner. When we become frustrated with people because they appear to resist change, we must remember that assumptions and values are at the core of who we are as people. When people are reluctant to change, it is possible that they realize that by changing assumptions, they will change their identity.

Finally, the cultivation process must be undertaken with a sense of hope and optimism no matter how negative a school or classroom culture may be. As Michael Fullan ( 1997) points out, the "lost causes" are often the ones worth fighting for. Without approaching each school, each classroom, and each individual as a starting place for change, as a potential source of nourishment for students, we settle for a society that is less than it can be. Every spring, cultivators across the country face their farms and gardens with hope and optimism; they look upon the soil and dream of what will grow. Every fall educators must face their schools and classrooms with the same dream of what will grow.


Note
1.
The term "parent" is used to include all adults assuming a parental role for a child. This includes guardians, foster parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, or adult siblings.

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