When cultural change factors attitudes and behaviors are included in a school's improvement process, changes are more likely to take root.
Culture refers to the values, beliefs and norms that influence how and why things are done. Hence, attitudes and behaviors, which deal with the human aspect of cultural change and processes, procedures and policies, which have to do with the technical aspects of change, are all determined by a school's culture. Perhaps because they are more easily identifiable, the technical aspects of cultural change are usually what are addressed when schools set out to make changes. However, these three Ps are heavily impacted by attitudes and behaviors. A good example of this is Idaho’s teachers’ resistance to statewide plans that dictate how computers should be used in schools.
The inclusion of attitudes and behaviors as part of a school’s cultural change process requires three steps. The first step is for the school leadership to undertake a self-assessment to determine how its attitudes and behaviors influence school culture. To wit, these questions must be addressed. How do we define our school culture? Have we modeled expected attitudes and behaviors? What do we need to change and how do we do it? Edward Lawler’s high involvement management model is a useful tool for framing responses to these questions. The model directs how information, knowledge, rewards and power can be used to effectively communicate with and support faculty and staff.
The second step of the process requires that the same questions be posed to the school-wide community and responses be compared and contrasted with the school leadership’s responses. A consensus process that ensures that all stakeholders’ feelings and ideas are explored is then employed to form agreement on a definition for the school’s culture and agreement also on what and how attitudes and behaviors need to be changed.
For the final and third step, a team that consists of individuals from the school leadership, faculty and staff is formed and given the responsibility to implement and evaluate the changes that have been proposed.
Given strong commitment and ample time for implementation, this type of cultural change process can result in a more healthy and robust learning environment.