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The First 100 Days in the Main Office: Transforming A School Culture

Author: Alan C. Jones
Date: December 1, 2107
Language: English
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Abstract: This book presents a series of cultural situations that could occur within the first 100 days of a school year: responding to entrenched vocabularies and behaviors, addressing professional and instructional bad habits, enacting alternative teaching scripts, leveraging a policy blindside, redefining the goals and practices of teams, and implementing outside-the-box programs. Each cultural situation offers a new school leader the opportunity to redefine the goals, values, and practices of an entrenched school culture—the Central High way. Administrators reading the title of this book may view 100 days as an arbitrary number picked out of administrative thin air. I argue that disrupting and replacing organizational and instructional routines is a race against time. Every school day that goes by without some sign of creative destruction is one more day that comfortable organizational and instructional routines live on in main offices and classrooms. For the question: “What would you do in the first day in your new office to change your school’s culture?” the most common responses involve reviewing district documents, touring facilities, meeting staff, listening to stakeholders and managing systems. School leaders populate their responses with the current jargon of school reform: learning communities, data mining, standards-based curriculum, differentiated learning, common core standards, formative assessment, race to the top, continuous improvement, etc. While these responses encompass reasonable behaviors on the first day in the main office, not one of these actions possesses the capacity to connect educational values expressed in school mission statements—why are we here—to daily organizational and instructional routines. Each activity gives the appearance of leading, but produces no connections between beliefs, values, and practices. Although none of these responses would make or break a school culture, they do represent a pattern of thinking and behaving that holds out little possibility of fundamentally changing a school’s culture.
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Publisher: Information Age
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