Recently, Peter De Witt reported this: Russ Quaglia and his group at Teacher Voice and Aspirations International Center released the Teacher Voice Report.The participants were 8,053 non-administrative school staff consisting of:
- 73% classroom teachers
- 14% certified support staff
- 12% support staff
According to their 4-year study from 2010 to 2014, Quaglia and his group found there are 8 conditions that are vital to every successful school climate. Notice none of them are about money or other rewards.
- A sense of community and participation
- All participants in the educational process are valuable members
- All employees can be fully active, contributing participants in the life of the school.
- Staffs are appreciated as members of the school community as a whole, and for their individual contributions.
– Highly motivated school employees who set and meet high aspirations form meaningful relationships with others in the school and in the profession.
- Mutual respect and commitment to one another are the hallmarks of a staff dedicated to system-wide school improvement.
- Collaborative support replaces adults isolated from one another in a culture dominated by individual competition.
Sense of Accomplishment:
- Effort, perseverance, and citizenship are recognized and appreciated.
- Highly dedicated employees make contributions beyond the “call of duty.”
- The school encourages effort as well as end products.
- When recognized for their effort, staff members are more motivated to persevere through difficult tasks and to create a healthy work environment through hard work and dedication.
Fun and Excitement:
- Interest and engagement in one’s work
- Enjoyment improves one’s effectiveness
- When staff are excited, they are eagerly engaged, actively involved, and they contribute more.
- If we expect all employees to be enthusiastic about coming to school, we must provide diverse, interesting, challenging and enjoyable work experiences.
Curiosity and Creativity:
- Allowing and encouraging all the participants in the school building to question and explore.
- Staff should be encouraged to trust and nurture their own curiosity and creativity.
- Limitation of mundane routine that can set in day after day, term after term, year after year.
- All staff members are open to the same growth and change we expect of students.
Spirit of Adventure:
- Supporting healthy risks
- Trusting that it is all right to make mistakes and knowing there is something to be learned from any consequence–positive or negative.
Leadership and Responsibility:
- Gives every member of the staff a voice in the school
- Letting them know they matter and are trusted to make decisions.
- If all personnel are expected to be responsible members of the school community, they must be trusted enough to have a voice in their classrooms, departments and in the building as a whole.
Confidence To Take Action:
- Encouraging all staff members to believe in themselves
- Trusting that they can be successful and make a difference.
- Though society’s expectations of schools are high, the confidence needed to meet those expectations must be internal to each employee.
- The intrinsic desire to provide the best service one is capable of must drives the most effective employees.
However the past 15 years, especially the past 4, have brought national and statewide curriculum changes, drastic budget manipulations and an increase in standardized testing, accountability and mandates. NYS Governor Cuomo and his “rubber stamp” legislature just made it even harder to achieve better schools in NYS by making conditions in schools even more reliant on standardized tests tied to Common Core Curricula all the while ignoring what research tells us works, Quaglia’s 8 conditions.
It seems that Cuomo’s 8 conditions being forced on all NYS schools are:
- Fear of job loss
- Pavlovian response to rewards
- Reliance on Data driven drivel
- Robotic use of non educator produced materials
- Worker bee mentality
- Being seen and not heard
- In step marching ability
- Love of uniformity and conformist conditions
Quaglia’s 8 conditions provide school leaders and teachers with a positive school culture as they try to create or recreate their school. They most certainly existed in the 3 high schools where I was lucky enough to have worked. Unfortunately, I had many (in fact most) friends and colleagues in other schools that were not so lucky. These are the conditions that administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, and students all know make great schools work, even under the toughest funding conditions.
What do Cuomo’s do?
David Greene is the Author of: DOING THE RIGHT THING: A Teacher Speaks