The work of cultivating and maintaining a strong adult culture is often considered to be one of the first steps in the journey of school transformation. In practice, however, the development of adult culture will accompany a school on every step of its journey toward improvement. The success of the school is contingent upon the school leader’s ability to nurture, encourage, and at times challenge the culture of the school to be focused on continued improvement and student achievement.
Key to a school leader’s ability to support adult culture in this way is to understand that adult culture is developmental by nature. There is not a singular, straight-line path to school transformation. As new structures and instructional practices are brought into a school, there is a need for leadership to recognize that the development of culture is iterative, and not something that can simply be finished and moved past. In our work with hundreds of schools over the years, we at New Tech Network have seen that there are predictable patterns that have emerged in the development of the adult culture of our schools, and an awareness of these patterns can be an invaluable tool for leadership as they look to support and push on the culture of their building with the goal of improvement.
At The 2016 Fall NTN National Leadership Summit in Greenville, SC, the 180 school leaders and thought partners in attendance engaged in some deep learning around this idea that adult culture is developmental. By closely examining case studies of three New Tech Network Schools (Katherine Smith Elementary, Weidner School of Inquiry, and Belleville New Tech), attendees were able see how other schools have experienced this journey of cultural development and use this new learning to identify where their current school culture is developmentally. This awareness then enabled these leaders to consider the patterns observed in our other network schools to begin to design developmentally appropriate next steps for their culture of adult learners.
Some questions to start thinking about if you are interested in applying this learning to your own setting might be:
- Where is the school currently in the development of its adult culture?
- What practices have you engaged in to get you to this point?
- What practices might you engage in to take the next developmental step?
- What is the role of the leader in supporting and challenging the culture to take the next step?
If you were not able to attend Fall Leadership Summit, but would like to review the resources from it to explore the ideas of adult cultural development for your own context, you can find everything here in the NTN Leadership Learning course in Echo. Use registration code (including the period at the end!) 3ne-0. to self-enroll in the course and access the materials.
NOTE: Accessing the resources linked in this post requires an account on the NTN Echo system.