This is something I thought about a lot this weekend. What is the balance between building culture and academics in a whole school? Should a school even be responsible for setting school wide culture? High school is not college for many reasons. In college there is a lot more time and opportunities to create culture. It is not as easy in high school, but to me that is not an excuse to not do it.
As teachers we know the importance of setting culture in our classroom. We spend a significant amount of time establishing a strong culture because that motivate, engage and increase student’s academics. We also know a positive culture will not establish itself. We have to be purposeful in what we do in class and the activities we plan to create a strong culture. Where is this happening at the school wide level?
It’s the beginning of homecoming season for many high schools. A perfect opportunity to build some culture, yet it often falls short. Why? Lack of attendance, lack of excitement, and previous years of disappointment. Just like our classroom these events need to be purposeful and planned and why not during the day? Yes during instruction time. Let’s take one Friday afternoon, last one or two periods of the day and have a pep rally or assembly. Yes I know that instruction time is valuable, but I also know taking time to motivate students can provide a larger return later in the year. Every year students stop looking at school as a place they want to be, but a place they have to be. They fight, vandalize the halls, stop participating, come late to class, or even stop coming all together. We need to help our students feel more connected to their school and stay a place they want to be. Could one assembly fix that? Probably not, could it help if done right? Certainly. One or two afternoons a year will not ruin a student’s chances of succeeding in your class and it will not jeopardize your TEI score. For many of our students, attending high school is a BIG deal. It is something we should honor and celebrate.