In our mission to be change agents in schools, we always hold the lens of sustainability. We want to help schools implement structures and systems they can maintain beyond the scope and duration of the Seneca partnership. We want to promote mindsets among school teams that lead to ongoing staff reflection, development, and innovation in best serving their students and families.
Last year we created a Culture and Climate Committee (also known as C3 Team) at Washington that met monthly and included representatives from school admin, staff, and parents. The C3 Team’s work was organized around goals the school had identified from multiple data sources. Puja organized those goals into an Annual Implementation Plan (AIP) to help the school take effective action on the priority areas they named.
This year there was an exciting shift that increased the level of integration and potential sustainability of our work at Washington. In collaboration with Puja, the school leaders decided to merge the C3 team with their Instructional Leadership Team (ILT). Now the integrated Leadership/C3 team meets twice a month to drive progress on school priorities. It is made up of school leaders and one teacher representative from every grade level, which allows the work of the Leadership/C3 Team to extend into Grade Level Collaboration time. Puja and the school admin spent a lot of time creating SMART goals for this year’s AIP priorities and then posted those up in the meeting room, so they are alive and present in every meeting and central to each discussion. Action items are listed and tracked, and team members share accountability for leading their grade level teams in advancing the priorities.
- optimism—putting aside fear and resistance to learn something new
- persistence—keeping at it, even when a task is hard
- flexibility—trying different ways to find a solution
- resilience—bouncing back from setbacks and learning from failure
- empathy—learning by putting oneself in another person’s shoes.
In promoting joy and appreciation as a school team and in building staff resilience during a time of year when burn-out can occur, the Washington named their first Dragon Hero Teacher award just before the Thanksgiving holiday break. The school leaders chose the first recipient of this monthly award, but moving forward each winner gets to choose the winner for the following month, thereby increasing staff voice, leadership, and mutual appreciation. This idea was inspired by the Culture and Climate Toolkit developed last year by Dr. Tamarah Tilos and Sara Moses.
It is inspiring to be a part of teams engaging in this challenging and important work. Wishing everyone happy holidays and restorative winter breaks!