Over the years, I have had the privilege of visiting several schools and meeting several school leaders and teachers. I have come across very positive environments, where wonderful things are happening, and have wondered about the ingredients that have created these joyful cultures of learning. Certainly, one aspect common to these schools has been the quality of leaders- people who were clear what they wanted to achieve, were able to inspire their teachers and led from the front. But there was an equally important, mystery ingredient in building such cultures of learning. I started realizing that in the best schools, cultures had been built and people behaved in a certain manner- whether it was a senior teacher, a junior teacher or a member of the administrative staff, they all exemplified certain values in their actions and the manner in which they interacted with others. I also started noticing that school leaders were instituting seemingly small and simple practices (we could even term these as ‘rituals’) that signalled what was important and encouraged a desired behaviour. For example, the school that gave medals to all students who could run a 100 metre dash under a certain time was emphasizing the importance of excellence and de-emphasizing the tendency of excessive comparison.
I was thrilled when Eklavya Education Foundation in Ahmedabad released Eklavya Sari, a compilation of 1-2 page school practices that have been instrumental to building their culture. Since then I have always wanted to be part of a project which would compile and make visible to educators, school leaders and parents, the practices that have been tried and tested at various schools around the country. Imagine the power of such a pool of ‘ideas that work’ that anyone can draw upon- coming from the practical experience and wisdom of schools that work with children, day in and day out. Apart from the obvious benefits of such a pool of ideas, my hope is that such a project will also help to shift the focus to building systems and culture that outlive a single leader, and leave a legacy for years to come.
At GenWise, we would like to make a small contribution to this idea by featuring small articles by school leaders, elaborating on one of their practices, on our blog and in our newsletters, and social media channels. These will be part of a series titled ‘Building Cultures of Learning’.
We request you to share an article (preferably less than 700 words) along with your name, designation and a photograph, sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also share additional photographs if relevant. The article should introduce your school in 3-4 lines and then highlight a particular practice at your school- you may refer to Eklavya Sari to see how they have chosen to share their practices.