Educator Steve Gruenert identifies the differences when he states, “climate is the way we feel around here,” and “culture is the way we do things around here” (Gruenert, 2008).
In looking through the lenses of school culture and school climate, how can high expectations for learning growth by all students be achieved? Research shows us that in order for leaders to shape a new culture of high expectations for all learners, they should start with changing the climate (Gruenert, 2008).
To make the shift in climate, thus altering the culture, educators must first believe in and hold equally high expectations for all students, regardless of their background. Given the right conditions, low-income and minority students can learn just as well as any other children (Cole, 2008).
If their teachers believe in their abilities, students will believe that they can achieve, and they will at least attempt to try in the classroom. Once teachers see this determination in their students, their beliefs in these students will be translated into their best instructional practices (Cole, 2008).
Educators must also strive to resist the tempatation to relate student failure to lack of ability. For example, saying “I’ve tau...
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...g the very significant and difficult challenges we face in closing the racial achievement gap. These conversations also help educators become more passionate learners themselves and more productive in their work (Hirsh, 2005). If students were allowed to freely say how they feel about the text they are reading or the project they are working on, the teacher would recognize the level of engagement of that student, and make adjustments accordingly. This also works in altering the teacher’s perception that the student is just lazy or not engaged in the lesson. By committing to participating in courageous conversations, they are also committing to changing the culture and teaching practices in the school (Hirsh, 2005).
Schools can also work toward narrowing the achievement gaps, while also maintaining expectations, and teach in a culturally responsive environment.
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