Just a School Librarian

Thoughts of a Middle School Librarian

School Culture

Posted by CGibson on November 30, 2009


The other day while Twittering, I came across an interesting article about changing one’s organizational culture.

What are organizational cultures, and why bother changing them? This article describes them as “complicated systems created and influenced by processes, mechanisms, and leaders’ actions.”

As a school librarian, I’m all about organizational culture.  I’m in a unique position to see the whole picture from inside and outside the classroom.

I look at what our teachers and students are doing.

What do I see?

I see many teachers working very hard to provide standards-based, data-driven instruction.  No small task.

You know what else I see?

I see most of my students not interested in reading.

“Why should I read?” was one response I heard recently from a 7th grader.

This culture of anti-reading irks me.

Now I know I’m dealing with teens and tweens. There are a million other activities they find more interesting.

And yes, some of my students really do read for enjoyment. I catch them sneaking a read behind their desks during class time.

But most of my students will NOT read unless under great duress:  imposed reading. Not free independent reading.

What’s even worse is that many students complain to me that their teachers forbid them from reading comics, “easy books”, or picture books.  Some students tell me they can only borrow books that are “on their reading level.”

No wonder they don’t want to read.

Now let’s get back to organizational culture. It’s hard to change the culture of any organization, such as one in a large public school.  Teachers are held accountable for everything, and this reckless accountability trickles down to our students.  Like I said, some of our students read only what is imposed on them. And that turns them off.

As school librarian, I want, and must, change that culture. You know, move that mountain.  One pebble at a time.

In my next blog post, I’m going to talk about one pebble: implementing  reading motivation programs.

After all, I’m just a school librarian.

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3 Responses to “School Culture”

  1. Darren Draper said

    Excellent post describing one of the most difficult challenges we face today in education.

    Thank you for reidentifying for me the issue of changing school cultures – a daunting task for anyone hoping to transform how teachers teach and students learn.

  2. […] I had written a post about changing  school culture. Here, I’m using “school climate” and “school culture” […]

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