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ERIC Number: EJ935463
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jun
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 2
ISSN: ISSN-0276-928X
When Nice Won't Suffice: Honest Discourse Is Key to Shifting School Culture
MacDonald, Elisa
Journal of Staff Development, v32 n3 p45-47, 51 Jun 2011
The "culture of nice" is the underlying culture that inhibits a team of teachers from reaching a level of rigorous collaborative discourse where teachers are challenging each other's and their own thinking, beliefs, assumptions, and practice. This article discusses how honest discourse can be the key to shifting school culture. The act of analyzing student work, like discussing other sensitive topics such as race or student equity, requires teacher leaders to foster a vulnerability-based trust. Teachers must be willing to expose their struggles and failures with their colleagues, and colleagues must be willing to tell the truth, or teams will go through the motions of collaborative inquiry but never see results. Through skillful facilitation, the teacher leader can unearth cultural issues that lie beneath the surface and stand in the way of change. If a team collaborates without addressing and working to shift the culture of nice, the teacher leader puts the team at risk of gaining no insight into its own practice, obtaining no results (or unsustainable results) for students, going through the motions of collaboration, and ultimately dismissing the process as a waste of time. While no one has the power to make a person or group change thinking and behaviors, teacher leaders who recognize the signs of a dysfunctional culture, respond proactively and in the moment, and follow up after a team collaborates can initiate moments that move the team beyond the culture of nice.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A