What We Really Mean When We Say “School Culture”

School culture from three different perspectives

By: Amber Chandler


I’m a parent of a middle schooler and a high schooler, a teacher, and the president of my district’s teachers’ union. I’m one “hat” short of an identity crisis, but it does give me an interesting perspective. In all these circles, I hear the phrase “school culture,” so here’s my attempt to share what I see when donning each of these hats!

Parent

I want my school district to communicate with me in a friendly way, assuming my best intentions, and acting as a partner in my child’s education. I want to believe that my child feels valued, and I want to know that decisions are being made that are best for families. I mostly want to feel welcome. Culture to me means an atmosphere where my input is valued and respected, and I have a relationship with those who are a part of my child’s life.

Teacher

want my school district to have a vision that reflects a desire for all students to learn, a plan to help those who are struggling, and the courage to take the necessary steps for that to happen. I want to feel free to speak my mind without fear, and I want to be treated like the professional that I am. I want to be free to take educational risks because that is a part of growing, and it is in those lessons that real change occurs. I mostly want to feel valued. Culture to me means an atmosphere where my input is valued and respected, and I have a relationship with those who are a part of my work life.

President of the Teacher’s Union

I want my school district—everyone who works within it—to know and understand the expectations. I want administrators to know that a little appreciation and praise goes a really long way in an often thankless profession. I want teachers to know that many times administrators are in a tough spot themselves, and they can’t do what they’d like to do. I want to come to the bargaining table with the belief that we are all there for the same reason: students. I mostly want to feel like a partner. Culture to me means an atmosphere where my input is valued and respected, and I have a relationship with those who are the decision makers.

What strikes me about “school culture,” as I am experiencing it, is that it is free. It isn’t programs (though they could help), and it isn’t money (though that could be nice), and it isn’t time consuming (though we’d all do better to go the extra mile sometimes). School culture really is about being in community with one another, forming relationships that are at the heart of what we do, and recognizing that we all play an integral role in the success of our students.


Amber Chandler is the coordinator of alternative education and interventions for Frontier Central School District in Hamburg, New York. She is a National Board Certified ELA teacher, the 2018 AMLE Educator of the Year, and a member of the AMLE Board of Trustees. Amber is author of The Flexible SEL Classroom: Practical Ways to Build Social Emotional Learning in Grades 4-8.
amberrainchandler@gmail.com
@msamberchandler
amberrainchandler.com


Published in AMLE Magazine, April 2020.

More on these topics
LeadershipSchool Culture/Climate
Article tags

 
0 Comments
Advertisement

Please login or register to post comments.

Related Resources

Topic Matter Experts

Bring professional learning to your school. More info...

Advertisement