Create the culture
Blended learning can promote a strong, positive culture.
How to develop the right Culture
Be deliberate about developing a culture that supports your blended-learning vision.
Blended learning can sustain a bad culture or help create a new one. Culture is especially useful—or toxic—in blended programs because blended learning goes hand in hand with giving students more control and flexibility. If students lack the processes and cultural norms to handle that agency, the shift toward a personalized environment can backfire.
Find recurring problems.
Culture results from students and teachers solving problems in a certain way; that solution becomes repeated over and over until it is so ingrained that no one has to think anymore. Schools have many processes and priorities that can coalesce over time into a shared culture.
Be exhaustive when considering recurring activities or problems that can be solved with blended learning.
Be intentional about processes used to solve these problems and the priorities shaping the decisions. Pull out a team from your school that will work out solutions and give them space to fail and try another process. Culture will be formed through repetition, one task at time.
Shaping culture can be daunting. To simplify, remember that culture is contained in a school’s processes, or ways of working together, and priorities, or shared criteria for decision making.
FROM THE FIELD: GILROY PREP SCHOOL
At Gilroy Prep School in Gilroy, CA, students know that once they walk into the traditional classroom, they must be in their seats within twelve seconds and working on the “Do Now” activity that is on the board. When students are in the computer lab, they have fifteen seconds from when they walk in the door to put their headphones on and log into their software program. As a result, students know that when they are in a learning environment, there should be no down time. Instead, when students rotate between different groupings five or six times during the day, they’re free to take mini recesses to relax, reset, and get ready for the next task. Although Gilroy Prep's culture may not suit everybody, the intentionality behind that culture has worked for the school, as Gilroy Prep achieved the highest API score— 978— in California for a first-year charter school in 2011-12.