School Culture Celebrations Across the Country
We can’t believe it’s already October! Many schools have only been in session for a little over a month so far this year, however as educators we know that school staff members work tirelessly for weeks and months before students enter the building to set the year up for success. Here we’re sharing moves and celebrations from schools that are showing growth already this year; some of these stories are about focusing on the big rocks, and some are focusing on the nuts and bolts. Each school is winning because of the formula that the culture teams and CT3 have created together.
Ashley Park K-8 School, Project LIFT school in Charlotte, NC
Ashley Park’s school leadership and culture teams had two major goals this year (among many): transforming classrooms from simply compliant to 100% on task and actively engaged, and changing the outcomes and time-on-task for scholars who exhibited the school’s most challenging behaviors. To go from “good to great” and improve outcomes for their students, the culture team focused on 3 areas. First, they wanted to intentionally providing 3-to-1 in the moment feedback between coaching cycles to reinforce high expectations and high levels of care across classrooms. They also needed to create, track, and follow up on individual behavior trackers with clear target behaviors and meaningful incentives for scholars exhibiting the most challenging behaviors. Finally, they must continue to align professional development and Real Time Teacher Coaching and use No-Nonsense Nurturer with coaching instructional strategies as a bridge from compliance to active participation across classrooms.
So far this year, our associate Wanda Perez notes that the school’s leadership team, Real Time Teacher Coaches, and teachers have demonstrated an incredible growth mindset and willingness to implement feedback. The leadership team has already conducted an in-depth staff survey to further refine effective implementation of the schoolwide culture plan. They’ve also planned and delivered targeted professional development sessions (including videos of their own teachers) and followed up with coaching and school walkthroughs. We’re looking forward to seeing what comes next for the Ashley Park team this year!
Achievement Prep in Washington, DC
Achievement Prep was built upon a compelling vision that was supported by a spirited, engaging culture driven to serve scholars and committed to the community the school serves. As the school grew and new schools were added on, staff found that the manifestation of the vision in the day to day began to suffer. Key systems and structures that led to the early success of the school were no longer being implemented with fidelity. The lack of No-Nonsense Nurturing had led to scholars being allowed to operate in ways that had consumed adults and further supported disempowering mindsets. In order to address these areas, the school’s leadership team, with the help of schoolwide culture planning, put the following into place:
- Re-establish and deepen the training for staff around vision and purpose
- Find the breakdown, repair what did not work, and retrain staff on key systems and processes
- Provide staff-wide No-Nonsense Nurturer training and multiple days of follow-up support through culture team training, schoolwide walkthroughs, leadership, coaching and Real Time Teacher Coaching for management and instruction
Already, training to kick off the year has increased in its depth and focus. The CEO led a powerful session about culture, poverty, and serving scholars in that particular neighborhood and led the staff through motivating, reinvigorating sessions and experiences around who they are, what they believe and what that means for how they operate. During schoolwide culture planning, CT3 associate Karen Smith worked with the culture team to tighten up plans, adjust discipline hierarchies, and realign their team around the work. The culture team members are now taking the lead on what they expected and managed, and the results are clear and tangible. The halls are clear of scholars during class time and the team has requested Real Time Teacher Coaching to further tighten routines in common spaces.
Real Time Teacher Coaching has also kicked off at the Elementary School. Coaches Valverde and Bailey took the lead on engaging teachers in the work for Real Time Teacher Coaching, quickly pushing and supporting teachers in adjusting disempowering mindsets and their teacher practice in pursuit of what is best for scholars. A number of classes have already shown increases in on task behaviors during these coaching days!
Elementary school in Syracuse, NY
After a change in leadership this summer, this Syracuse school faced a daunting year. Last year, there appeared to be a lack of school-wide and classroom routines/procedures in place. Safety was an issue; students were running in hallways and the number of injuries was high. The leadership team knew they had to quickly prioritize with CT3’s help to make this year safe and successful for students.
The school’s culture team first worked to develop expectations for common areas and daily routines: hallways, cafeteria, tardy, entry routines and dismissal. They established weekly culture team meetings with their CT3 associate Vynesha Johnson attending in-person or via Skype to develop clear expectations and plan to roll-out to staff and students. The team also created grade-level discipline hierarchies that each grade-level team vetted and rolled-out.
The school has seen major improvements already this year! Every classroom has expectations clearly posted and grade-level discipline hierarchies are in place and in use. Each classroom also has individual and classwide incentives in place (through the use of Class Dojo). The school’s also increased their number of Real Time Teacher Coaches from 2 to 4, so they will now have the capacity to coach all teachers by early December. A huge shift already for this new principal and her staff!
Fullerton School in Cleveland, OH
Fullerton School in Cleveland, OH has made tremendous gains in the past few years. This year, they knew they had to focus on getting ALL classrooms to move from rooms of compliant behavior to rooms focused on true engagement. The culture team, with the help of CT3 associate Eyka Stephens, knew that they could utilize two tools to create and maintain high levels of engagement across the board: Real Time Teacher Coaching for Instruction and making sure that each classroom was utilizing these instructional strategies, including teachers that may have been resistant to change.
Through Real Time Teacher Coaching and ensuring each classroom was utilizing the No-Nonsense Nurturer model with fidelity, Fullerton has already seen growth moving into October! Their coaches and teachers can boast that 100% of teachers are measuring at 80% on task behavior or higher and the leadership team models the use of No-Nonsense Nurturer in common spaces such as hallways and the cafeteria. The school has also seen zero suspensions in Quarter 1 – we’re impressed!
New Miami Local School District in Hamilton, OH
The leadership at New Miami’s K-12 campus knew they needed to place a stronger focus on urgency, maximizing every minute of instruction, and shifting the school’s culture from ritual compliance to active participation (as measured on CT3’s engagement rubric). Their focus for the 2016-2017 school year was to first shift their three core values to reflect a growth mindset needed from all staff members; they decided on taking risks, showing grit, and demonstrating urgency. The school invested deeply in a full-time Real Time Teacher Coach to support the development of teachers in this change process. They also invested in the implementation of five high-leverage instructional strategies that would be used across all classrooms with fidelity and are working to reinforce a culture of coaching by implementing “3-to-1 in the moment feedback” on a regular basis for all staff members.
So far, the staff at New Miami has many celebrations; for starters, over 25 teachers volunteered their time this summer to be on the school’s culture team. As the school rolls out Real Time Teacher Coaching, they’ve seen that over 75% of classrooms that received coaching are shifting at least one level in CT3’s student engagement rubric immediately. CT3 associate William Sprankles is happy to report that from schoolwide walkthroughs, teachers are now maximizing every minute of classroom time and celebrations of staff members are occurring regularly via the schools communication methods. Keep up the good work!
Statesville Road Elementary School, Project LIFT school in Charlotte, NC
The leadership team at Statesville Road Elementary knew they needed to engage their mostly new staff into a supportive, joyful culture while also increasing the engagement levels in all of their classrooms. To do so, the principal, assistant principal, and six Real Time Teacher Coaches began conducting regular baseline observations in all classrooms to assess progress towards engagement (based on CT3’s student engagement rubric). This team, along with other members of the school’s culture team, also worked on norming on and identifying quick solutions to common issues that arise throughout the day.
Already this year, a high percentage of teachers are being coached regularly and demonstrating a high will to improve their practice. The staff has also implemented a simple system of awards provided to staff members by other staff members in areas aligned to focus areas of culture plan (joy, love, etc.). The school’s culture team is acting quickly to resolve problems and address challenges while setting up systems for a supportive, joyful culture for the rest of the year.
Westside Academy at Blodgett in Syracuse, NY
The leadership team and staff of Westside Academy in Syracuse, NY had recently seen an increase in behaviors that were detrimental to their school culture and had to be addressed in order to move forward. Particularly, they saw an increase in explosive and challenging behaviors that resulted in students being removed from class (most often during the first 15 minutes). Scholars were moving up their discipline hierarchies quickly and were then required to go to the school’s behavior intervention center for the remainder of class (therefore missing vital learning time).
Their goal quickly became to reduce the number of class removals and to empower staff members to overcome challenging behaviors, build relationships with these students, and create and maintain a positive, stronger classroom culture. The culture team launched a “Strong Start Equals a Stronger Finish” initiative, where they work with teachers to revamp how they develop their morning routines and Do Nows. The leadership team will also conduct baseline observations of all classes to collect meaningful data on the number of scholars on and off task and number of class removals during the first 15 minutes of class. So far, the culture team has already qualified what a “Strong Start” looks like and held a staff PD to norm these expectations across classrooms. We’re proud to partner with this team as they’re committed to evaluating their efforts and making adjustments as needed!
We’re proud to work with educators around the country who are committed to improving outcomes for their students. Have a question about any of the strategies mentioned here, or want to bring schoolwide culture planning to your school? Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!