Resetting the school community’s default settings

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Like individuals, school cultures are composed of habits and routines. Many of those habits and routines were consciously chosen and carefully cultivated. Others were not.

Most of those habits and routines—which I think of as default settings—make the school community more efficient and effective in its work. But not always.

Here are a few examples of shifts in default settings that I believe would support schools in achieving their most important goals:

• From “What should we do?” to “What do we believe?”

• From fast, superficial interactions to slow, deeper conversations

• From “cram more in” to “do less better”

• From blaming and fault finding to problem solving

• From complaining to celebrating

• From identifying deficits to consistently applying assets/strengths to achieve goals

• From advice giving to strengthening problem-solving abilities

• From a focus on individual performance to strengthening the knowledge and skills of teams and the school community for continuous improvement.

Which shifts have I missed?

3 Responses to “Resetting the school community’s default settings”


  1. 1 Monique Beels February 21, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Timely blog today for my district. I am striving to change the conversations from acceptance of the status quo to questions about why we are where we are. It’s hard to change a culture overnight. I know this and promise to keep plugging away, building trust as I go. Maybe that’s what it all boils down to, TRUST – just a small word but huge impact on our organization.

  2. 2 francesmiller February 22, 2013 at 7:04 am

    We need to look at how individuals and organizations within our own systems achieved stellar results using the resources available to the system (and then duplicate then learn from that individual or organization). Many times we spend our energy looking for outside experts when they are right there within our organization; we just have to learn how to develop a culture where others support their use.

    • 3 Dennis Sparks February 22, 2013 at 7:09 am

      I appreciate your comment, and I agree that we can learn a lot from one another if the culture supports it. There are “positive deviants” among us from whom we can learn important things.


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