At our administrative retreat yesterday we started digging into the tricky topic of culture. It really is tricky because there are so many things that go into it and it can mean different things to different people.
One of the first things we did was brainstorm around our current culture. What are some strengths and what are some challenges? We referred to this as C1 (as noted in the pic above) or Culture 1. The most interesting take away from this initial conversation was that each person had varying thoughts on the culture of the organization as a whole. It was clear that where you were in the organization impacted your impressions of the culture, both with strengths and challenges.
Next, we took one strength and one challenge and tried to walk through its origin story.
- What were the experiences that lead to that perception?
- What beliefs were generated by those experiences?
- What actions happen(ed) because of those beliefs?
The hope from this was to internalize the process by which something contributes to culture. So when we see something we want to change or improve we consider that origin process and how change meaningfully happens.
As a wrap up to this very initial conversation we shared out some of the daily practices we incorporate in our buildings to support strong cultures…from how we support staff in taking risks to how do we welcome new folks to the team.
This was just our first steps into this work…looking forward to a great year of talking about this.
We are switching to a networked copier system. A part of this work involved naming a copier…the copier…the only copier that people will see when they press print. It’s the name that will show up no matter what building you are in, no matter what copier you go to…it’s that name. And as any educator knows…big change, little change…it’s all important to people in an organization. We all want this to go smoothly and effectively for our educators, so it’s with that in mind that we took naming this device incredibly seriously.
Little changes yield big results when it comes to culture, climate and comfort, so we knew that it was important. Not everyone will like our choice, not everyone will understand, but at the least, they should know that we cared a bunch about making it good for them.
Big thanks to all those that tweeted suggestions…there were some good ones!
Every day for the past year we (John Alberghini, Superintendent, and that other guy) have sent a happy birthday email to everyone in our organization on their birthday. In that email, we included the above gif.
This was a new thing for our staff. It was new to me too. And the feedback we received was incredible. I can’t tell you the number of times people went out of their way to thank us for the email, thank us for the funny “video” and to thank us for taking the time to recognize their special day.
This is one of those small things that’s really a big thing.
I can’t recommend following this practice enough. We’ve actually made an updated gif for this year, just to keep it fresh!
Why a gif? Because we can include it in the body of an email, there’s no sound so people can see it wherever they are and because there’s just something not as personal as sending someone a link to a video.