The Definite Dozen

What rules will you be creating at the start of the new term?

If we use our telescopic lens and look outside of our own schools then we can learn a tremendous amount. Every school has something to share and it could be something that might very well transform another institution.

We all know that ‘what works’ in one school won’t always translate in a like for like way even if that school is literally next door.

But then there are some things that can and do work when we copy and paste an idea, initiative or strategy. There are some ideas that feed into a school culture that nourish it and help it to grow.

At the beginning of the Autumn term there will be plenty of head-scratching and ideas floating around about what this school culture should look like. It’s critical to have it in place and it’s critical every member of staff is au fait with it before the children step into the building.

I came across some great ideas via the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy (HMCRA), a small public school in the Castro. Their vision, values and mission have impressed me and they are well worth considering. I think they could easily be translated to ‘work’.

They have three simple behavioural rules for expected student behavior:

  • Be a Respectful Learner
  • Be a Responsible Learner
  • Be a Safe Learner

These are the guiding principles of many schools and what I like about them is that they aren’t complicated. Some schools have a rule book that would mirror the sanctions of a prison. Short and sweet and memorable, the 3Bs are a good fit.

Then there are what HMCRA call the ‘Definite Dozen’ and these I really like:

  • Respect Yourself and Others
  • Take Full Responsibility
  • Develop and Demonstrate Loyalty
  • Learn to Be a Great Communicator
  • Discipline Yourself So No One Else Has To
  • Make Hard Work Your Passion
  • Don’t Just Work Hard, Work Smart
  • Put the Team Before Yourself
  • Make Winning an Attitude
  • Be a Competitor
  • Change Is a Must
  • Handle Success Like You Handle Failure

These are the values, beliefs and mindsets that work together to make the school what it is and what makes it tick, the shared social action that gives it an identity.

Arguably, there are too many and they are not easy to remember but there are some great message there that are corporate cultural qualities to aim for – and not just for children but staff too.

Andrew Moorish (2016) in his book The Art Of Standing Out reminds us that organisational culture is everything,

Culture is king. To understand the organisational culture of a school is to understand the forces that make it effective.

What does your school culture say about your community? What will you be putting in place?

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