Creating a high-performance culture

In Trusting Teachers with School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots, Kim Farris-Berg, Edward J. Dirkswager, and Amy Junge found that when teachers have collective autonomy to design and run schools, they make decisions that emulate the nine cultural characteristics of high-performing organizations. Wise teams should carefully consider how their design decisions will cultivate these characteristics in both their team and school.

The nine characteristics of high-performing organizations are:

  1. Expecting workers to accept accountability for the outcomes of their own decisions.
  2. Seeking clarity and buy-in to a shared purpose, which is made up of a mission, vision, values, goals, and standards of practice.
  3. Establishing a collaborative culture of interdependence characterized by an open flow of ideas, listening to and understanding others, and valuing differences.
  4. Expecting leadership from all and perceiving leadership as a service to all.
  5. Encouraging people to innovate, including trying creative new things, challenging old processes, and continuously adapting.
  6. Establishing a learning culture characterized by a sense of common challenge and discovery rather than a culture where experts impart information.
  7. Learning from and being sensitive to the external environment.
  8. Being engaged, motivated, and motivating.
  9. Setting and measuring progress toward goals and acting upon results to improve performance.


Creating a high-performance culture

Alliance for the Study of School Climate

Website. This website for the Alliance for the Study of School Climate is an excellent resource for showing the relationship between school climate and student achievement.

High-Performance is Not a Function of Accountability Alone

Commentary. Edward J. Dirkswager and Kim Farris-Berg make the case that, if high-performing cultures are multifaceted in nature, then sticking to “accountability” alone as a means for improvement won’t yield high performance.

Trusting Teachers with School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots, Chapter 3 and Appendix C

Book. Kim Farris-Berg, Edward J. Dirkwager, and Amy Junge explore the design and management decisions that made 11 teacher-powered schools successful.

How Do Principals Influence Student Achievement?

Report. Principals are often seen as the primary agents of change to improve student achievement in their schools. Yet the role of the principal is complex, and there are many ways that principals might potentially influence classroom instruction and student learning. What matters most? Researchers used data from hundreds of schools to learn how principals were most effective at achieving higher learning gains on standardized tests. Then, they visited 12 schools, interviewing principals and teachers, to see firsthand what principals in schools with improving learning gains were doing that principals in schools without improving learning gains were not.

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