Saturday, May 20, 2017

Week 26 - Your Professional Context


What are socioeconomic status of the community, school culture and professional environments?According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the socioeconomic status of a family is “a combination of education, income and occupation” (APA, 2016). The socioeconomic status of a community reflects the collective background of the families residing there.
Stoll (1998) defines school culture along three dimensions, the relationship among its members; the organisational structure including the physical environment and management system; and the learning nature. Some internal and external factors that shape a school's culture include the school's history, the students' socio-economic background, external contexts such as national educational policies, and societal changes (Stoll, 1998).
The OECD (2015) measures the school environment based on instruction time, student-teacher ratio, teachers’ salaries and teachers’ working time.

Why do you need to know about this?Stoll (1998) places the importance of understanding school culture as the starting point for leading change towards school improvement. The organisational culture is an invisible powerful force that influences the members’ behaviour. Hongboontri and Keawkhong (2014) show that the school culture impacts on teachers’ beliefs and instructional practices, but this relationship is also reciprocal. Your relationship with your teaching community builds a sense of belonging. For example, the reason social networking is so successful is because it enables people to feel a sense of connectedness and belonging.
Stoll (1998) points out that the socioeconomic background of a school’s students influences its culture. The varied needs, expectations and even pressure from the community towards schools is thought to be linked to the socioeconomic level of the community. In addition to school culture, professional environments are considered a factor that impact on the professional practice. Kraft and Papay (2014) suggest that professional environments are related to improvement by individual teachers.

THIS WEEK’S ASSESSMENT ACTIVITYActivity 2: Current issues in my professional context
Create a blog post where you critically analyse issues of socioeconomic factors, school culture and professional environments in relation to your practice.
Following these steps may help:

Step 1: Identify the socioeconomic status of the community, organisational culture and professional environments.
Use the following questions to guide your thoughts:
Is there any statistical data that indicates the socioeconomic status of your school’s community? What does it tell you about the characteristics of the community?
What is the culture that the school is striving for? How is it manifested?
How would you describe the professional environment in your school?

Step 2: Analyse the issues around the socioeconomic status of the community, the school culture and professional environments.
Use these following questions to guide your thoughts:
What issues arose from the socio-economic status of your school’s community? How is it similar or different from those of similar socio-economic status? How have the issues been addressed?
What issues arose from the professional environments in your school? How these issues impact on your practice? How have the issues been addressed?
What role does your school’s culture play in addressing the discussed issues?

- Refer to page 10 of Stoll’s (1998) article in which Stoll and Fink (cited in Stoll, 1998) identified 10 influencing cultural norms of school improvement. Does your school culture embed the mentioned norms? If not, what is missing and how may you and your school foster a positive school culture.
- Read page 6-14 of this Principal's sabbatical report by Gargiulo (2014) on The Engagement and Academic Success of Students from Lower Socio-economic Status to have some idea of the strategies the school have actioned to address the school issues.

Does your school have similar approach? What would work and not work? Why?

Academy for SELinSchools. ( 2015, Apr 28).What is school culture and climate? [video file].Retrieved from

- why is a positive school culture and climate important
- Climate - every school own personality and feel (busy, serious, exciting), unique to each school
needs to be positive that every school needs to be apart from it
- Culture - value, traditions, how people treat each other
interact with people that are not like you, learn to negotiate, understand, work with different people who think and view the world differently. Understand what others value.
School culture and climate often happen by default. no one staring the ship and allow it to develop by its own and could develop a negative culture.

TEdEd.(2013, Jun 21). Building a culture of success- Mark Wilson.[video file]. Retrieved from

Everyone wants the same thing - a successful school
We have to build an environment of success.
Start with culture - beliefs and priorities that drive thoughts and actions of people at the school
it wasn't about what it was about how and why, it was about culture
Build a culture of success - vision, unity and empowerment
The stakeholders have to come together and ask questions, who am I?who are we? what is it that we wish to be and why? How do we become what we want to do?
What they know? What they can do? What kind of people are they growing to be?
The one individual the one person is important.
When people have purpose and you give them autonomy they work towards mastery.
Focus on empowerment means people able to do amazing things. People have the opportunity.

Gargiulo, S. (2014). Principal sabbatical report. At the start of 2014 as a staff we worked on what are the effects of poverty and considered what we are currently doing to address these effects.
Further details on 6 of the strategies that have been newly introduced to the school are:
1. Providing lunches and breakfasts: 
If a student is not receiving enough nutrition during the day, this would impact on their engagement and consequently their achievement.
-Establishing evidential databases An evidential database to allow for the systematic storage and management of real-time data within schools by appointed and trained staff to inform decision making.
- Ongoing target setting by a specially trained Student Achievement Manager within the school A specially trained staff member to use longitudinal data to set individual academic targets and aggregate these with other data to set specific group and school targets.
- Tracking and monitoring of student learning and academic progress Real-time student achievement data to monitor student learning and academic progress. A 'traffic light' system to record teachers' expectations of students' achievement in individual subjects as part of monitoring and aligning academic targets and progress and ensure timely interventions with students at risk of not achieving targets.
- Academic counselling to support students' progress toward set targets Academic counselling or coaching to provide the opportunity for students to meet with trained teachers two to three times each year to review their academic progress, goals and plans and the strategies required to achieve them.
- Enhancing family/whānau engagement Enhanced parent-student-teacher conferences to provide schools with the opportunity to discuss students' progress collectively and improve community engagement. Plans and strategies are reviewed with students and
Part of the PB4L is teaching the expected behaviours of students with positive reinforcement. It is established as a school wide framework with consistent expectations of students’ behaviour and engagement in classes and using data accrued to support progress.
The four key guidelines which emerged from this consultation were the ‘learning values’; Respect, Excellence, Whanaungatanga and Akoranga
The second major step in the framework was establishment of a reward based reinforcement scheme.
without literacy, students are not able to access the curriculum. This obviously impacts on students’ engagements and academic success. Students who are from a lower SES are more likely to have literacy issues. MHS addresses these issues by providing focussed literacy support. This is by several different ways; a school wide approach of banding classes, specialised literacy focus for those lower bands, assessment based learning by e-asTTle results, mentorship and tutoring and the ‘Accelerating Literacy Learning’ programme.
6. Foundation for youth development mentoring programs GOAL; TO PROVIDE EXTERNAL MENTORING TRAINING FOR SENIOR STUDENTS

Stoll (1998). School Culture. School Improvement Network’s Bulletin 9. Institute of Education, University of London.
-Schein considers the basic essence of an organisation’s culture to be, “the deeper le
vel of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organisation, that operate unconsciously, and that define in a basic ‘taken-for-granted’ fashion an organisation’s view of itself and its environment”. These are the heart of school culture, and what makes it so hard to grasp and change.
-Culture describes how things are and acts as a screen or lens through which the world is viewed. In essence, it defines reality for those within a social organisation, gives them support and identity and creates a framework for occupational learning.
- school’s culture is shaped by its history, context and the people in it.
1. The school’s age can impact cultural change. In early years of a new school, dominant values emanate from its “founders” and the school makes its culture explicit. It clarifies its values, finds and articulates a unique identity and shares these with newcomers, whether teachers, pupils or parents. Maturity and/or stagnation and decline is most problematical from the cultural change perspective. This stage is reached if the school has ceased growing and responding to its environment.
2. School culture is influenced by a school’s external context - Political and economic forces or changes in national or local educational policies are also influences.
3. School cultures vary between primary and secondary schools: In primary schools care and control influence their culture,such that when pupils leave primary schools there is a feeling that they have left a family. In contrast, secondary school culture is influenced not only by larger size and department structures, but by the very fundamental nature of teachers’ academic orientation
4. School culture is influenced by the school’s pupils and their social class background.
5. Changes in society pose challenges to a school’s culture: whether they be related to learning, the pupil population, organisational management,  rapid technological developments or the changing role of women.
Four Teaching Cultures
● Individualism — classrooms as “egg-crates” or “castles”. Autonomy,isolation and insulation prevail, and blame and support are avoided.
● Collaboration — teachers choose, spontaneously and voluntarily,to work together, without an external control agenda. Forms include:“comfortable” activities—sharing ideas and materials—and rigorous forms, including mutual observation and focused reflective enquiry.
● Contrived collegiality — teachers’ collaborative working relationshipsare compulsorily imposed, with fixed times and places set for collaboration, for example planning meetings during preparation time.
● Balkanisation — teachers are neither isolated nor work as a whole school. Smaller collaborative groups form, for example within secondary school departments, between infant and junior teachers, and class teachers and resource support teachers.
Norms of Improving Schools
1. Shared goals—“we know where we’re going”
2. Responsibility for success—“we must succeed”
3. Collegiality—“we’re working on this together”
4. Continuous improvement—“we can get better”
5. Lifelong learning—“learning is for everyone”
6. Risk taking—“we learn by trying something new”

7. Support—“there’s always someone there to help”
8. Mutual respect—“everyone has something to offer”
9. Openness—“we can discuss our differences”
10. Celebration and humour—“we feel good about ourselves”

APA. (2016). Education and Socioeconomic Status. Retrieved from
- Socioeconomic status (SES) is often measured as a combination of education, income and occupation. It is commonly conceptualized as the social standing or class of an individual or group. 
When viewed through a social class lens, privilege, power, and control are emphasized
- Research indicates that children from low-SES households and communities develop academic skills more slowly compared to children from higher SES groups (Morgan, Farkas, Hillemeier, & Maczuga, 2009).
- The school systems in low-SES communities are often underresourced, negatively affecting students’ academic progress (Aikens & Barbarin, 2008). Inadequate education and increased dropout rates affect children’s academic achievement, perpetuating the low-SES status of the community.
research indicates that school conditions contribute more to SES differences in learning rates than family characteristics (Aikens & Barbarin, 2008).
- Schools in low-SES communities suffer from high levels of unemployment, migration of the best qualified teachers and low educational achievement (Muijs, Harris, Chapman, Stoll, & Russ, 2009).
- A teacher’s years of experience and quality of training is correlated with children’s academic achievement (Gimbert, Bol, & Wallace, 2007). Yet, children in low income schools are less likely to have well-qualified teachers. In fact, of high school math teachers in lowincome school districts 27 percent majored in mathematics in college as compared to 43 percent of teachers who did so in more affluent school districts (Ingersoll, 1999).
- The following factors have been found to improve the quality of schools in low-SES neighborhoods: a focus on improving teaching and learning, creation of an information-rich environment, building of a learning community, continuous professional development, involvement of parents and increased funding and resources (Muijis et al., 2009).

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