Note: The following is an excerpt from the book "Innovative Voices in Education- Engaging Diverse Communities." I wrote the closing chapter of this book, the one this excerpt (with minor changes) originates from.
A positive school culture is omnipresent and affects everything. People who work in positive school cultures would have a hard time defining them- they just are.
The above statement came my way via Twitter some time ago. I've been thinking about it ever since. Does culture get thought about? What makes culture definable? Should we be able to define culture? Is there a template for a positive school culture?
If culture doesn't get thought about, it should. Perhaps this is the missing link in some schools... thinking about culture. There is lots of lip service paid toward the element of school culture, but how many actually make a deliberate effort to define their own school culture? With the assistance of my former colleagues during graduate school, I made the effort. The manifestation of our school culture evolved as a circular representation called the Hope Wheel.
I created the Hope Wheel during graduate school as part of my action research around emotional, social and moral education. I was struggling to visualize a paradigm that could encompass an intercultural perspective; one our very diverse school needed to shift toward. I returned to the roots of my professional teaching choosing a medicine wheel model to represent my evolving point of view. My experience working and living among First Nations people exposed me to timeless wisdom surrounding learning philosophy. To First Nations people, learning is the essence of living; it’s organic and natural, and for many, represented by the medicine wheel in one form or another.