Relationships among the five aspects of culture

I subscribe to www.tcrecord.org, and I am not sure how it works but I do know I have gained some great insights into practice from this website. They have just emailed me the highlights of 2012 and when I read one article, it resonated well with me. Although it was about maths and from a school perspective, the discussion around having a collective culture securely focused on improving practice is the concept that stood out.

When I think of the level of quality my new manager wants and why it is so hard to achieve in my context, I wonder if it is based in our reoccurring problems.

Our reoccurring problem is that each teacher does their ‘bit’ – and often do it very well – but we do our ‘bits’ separately. This last year our fortnightly planning meetings have been overtaken by ‘housekeeping’ for various ‘events’ that have happened. 2013 has to be the year we keep the focus on children, learning and teaching. Then and only then will we create a space for collective practice.

I think the reoccurring problem that is not articulated in my centre is that a vision of quality is not visible  or clear to all.

So what to do to improve our culture? We can’t simply ask teachers to change their habits and beliefs. Young (2008) perhaps captured this most clearly when he argued that “curriculum is not just a product of the practices of teachers and pupils or even government policies but a social institution that needs to be understood independently of the individual actions of teachers and policy makers” (p. 11).

So our early childhood centre is a social institution that requires recognition of the complexities influencing centre and room culture. Some aspects of our culture that influence teaching decisions are individual and organizational factors, curricular and instructional decisions, policies, resources, assessment systems professional development and collaborative pathways available to teachers. Professional discretion also plays a role. Coordinating these aspects can only happen once we recognize and grow our practice from understandings of the complex interrelationships that make up our social institution.