Transforming Cultures

Teachers are at the center of Lausanne Learning’s mission to engage, empower, and transform. Transforming schools must start from the teacher level and be supported by empowered teachers.

Transforming Cultures

Students demanding an engaging education and being drawn to the schools that provide it is the catalyst that can provoke systemic change. This can and has happened where the faculty have been challenged and have challenged themselves to truly grow as professionals daily and as a way of being or ontology. Inspirational teachers have always had this characteristic even though they have typically not seen themselves as great.

While faculty culture is often seen as the most significant impediment to change, this is simplistic. Too often, faculty culture is relied upon to sustain schools through periods of turmoil, weak leadership, poor direction, and lack of vision. Their work, characterized by school leaders as resistant, should more often be termed exemplary character in service to children.

Nonetheless, Lausanne Learning agrees that faculty culture is the key, that faculty cultures can be intransigent, and that the blame can be equally spread between faculty and school leadership.

The central issue in faculty culture is the inconsistency demonstrated in student outcomes that represent enormous variation in teacher skill, motivation, and commitment to their profession. This teacher variation is summarized, somewhat stereotypically, in the following table:

Obviously, these characterizations are more complex in real life. But they are close enough to indicate why it is that faculty cultures routinely fail to push the school in powerful directions from within rather than from the urging of an excellent leader.

What Would Happen?

It is important to note that excellence of school leadership in improving faculty culture constitutes largely an extrinsic motivation and where such leadership is transitory, it fails to maintain its effect. One recent research study in the UK found that only one kind of leader had any kind of long-term effect – the leader who ‘slowly’ worked on the entire system and patiently focused on student outcomes.

So what would happen if the faculty had intrinsic motivation to create the right kind of environment/community where students throve equally? And, furthermore, what would happen if that was aligned with excellent administrative leadership that supported such action on behalf of students largely undeterred by political exigencies and with the long view in mind? We believe that would be the kind of transformation students would value and the kind of transformation that would be high achieving.

It is clear that the path to such intrinsic motivation is not simple or everyone would already be doing it. Having said that, it is also true that the route to such motivation is actually known but rarely carried out effectively. Effectively in this context means longevity, courage to act, the ability to listen intently, and the will to succeed. Examples of ways in which faculty cultures are undercut are:

The Transformed School

In the transformed school, on the other hand, an intrinsically motivated faculty are in a deep conversation with their administrator that is founded on mutual respect, deep support, active patience, and a laser-like focus on children.

In this school, mission is always a discussion seeking to always delve deeper into meaning and presence.

In this school, leadership is distributed, constantly learned, taught, and mentored.

Here, all faculty participate in the learning journey for themselves and with their children.

The transformed school is actually a transformed culture where “being” is active, engaged, vital, forward moving, purposeful and with meaning. In that culture each child enjoys success.

The Lausanne Learning Mission: Engage Students; Empower Faculty; Transform Schools

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