The 3 “E’s” of Building a Great School Culture

I am writing to learn, not necessarily to share my learning. I am trying to work out these ideas through my writing so any feedback would be appreciated.

Within leadership, one of my focuses is to take the complex and try to make it simple. Not “simple” in the delivery and the work, but in the messaging to create a clearer vision of what is essential to focus on now and in the future.  In my mind, I keep coming back to three main ideas.

  1. The Environment
  2. The Experience
  3. The Energy

Simple concepts but massive undertakings in our work.  But what does each mean when you dig in?

The Environment is about the space(s) around us and the “stuff” that is needed to serve students learners.

The Experience is about what we design for learning and what we empower others to create for themselves.

The Energy is what we bring in ourselves to our schools and what others help unleash in others.

As I write about each one, I understand there is a definite overlap. It is hard to create a fantastic experience for our students and our classrooms when our energy is either lacking or pulling us in a negative direction.  The environment can be adversely affected by a lackluster experience. Many schools who have access to resources, that create an experience that is less than ideal.

Can a great learning experience in school happen where one is lacking? To some extent, yes, but I would say that if all three are a focus, the chances of success become greater. I did, however, list the ideas in what I believe to be in the opposite direction of where I see them being most valuable.  Many educators are exerting tremendous energy to overcome a bad experience in their learning, as well as less than ideal conditions in the environment.  But if the first two “E’s” are there, it can enhance the energy an educator brings to the profession.  Education is a career pathway that can be so emotionally, mentally, and sometimes even physically exhausting, so it has been incredible to see how more schools are focusing on supporting teachers to take care of themselves, so they can excel at what they are doing.

What is important is that each one of these “E’s” is built within and with your school or organizational culture.  What are the elements within each that can most support the people serve? How do you enhance each focus area while still working within certain constraints that are often out of the control of schools? Where do you excel and where do you lack, and why?

I will be looking at these three “E’s” more in the future but would love your thoughts. Again, this is not to say being an educator is simple, but more to streamline a focus on big ideas and how important they are to supporting our learners and helping them excel. I would love your thoughts not only each element listed but examples within each that support the ideas.

Source: George Couros

One Comment

  1. Kimberly said:

    What about empathy? A while ago (2015) you wrote a blog post I still think about….”Empathy for the learner as a learner.” I believe it is important as a leader to be mindful of “what would it be like actually to be..” a student, or a teacher, or a parent, or a ….”learner” in the moments we connect. I think it ties to all three of your other E’s.

    When I remember to have Empathy, I am more aware of the Environment (the stuff around us) that is needed to support learning for each of our learners. (Defined by me, learners includes both students and teachers….parents too!) With empathy in mind, I am more purposeful in empowering our learners to Experience being owners of their own learning trajectories. (I am better with teachers in this than students…but working on it with students and have made a significant change in our school schedule to change the learning Experience for students.) The amazing by-product of the above is the Energy and enthusiasm we are all experiencing as our school culture is thriving and evolving as we continue to learn together.

    We still have many areas for growth according to accountability standards…but the road to “yet” is incredibly fulfilling and what’s the word…Exciting! 🙂

    July 20, 2018

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