Monday, July 31, 2017

Blended Week Nine: Create the Culture

In this chapter our attention turns to a school culture that will create a successful blended learning environment. Think about your school and the current culture. Does it seem like it would be conducive to a blended learning environment or are there some shifts in the culture that might be necessary?

We only have two weeks left in this this book club. In order to receive all 22 of the PGPs you need to have made at least one comment to each week's blog post or to other people's comments each week. Now might be a good time to catch up on weeks you've missed. We have had lots of comments each week and in order to see them all you have to click on "Load more" (sometimes multiple times) at the bottom of the post pages. Please also be sure you have registered for the book club by completing this registration form. This will ensure that I have your email address to send your PGPs at the end of the book club. If you are unsure if you registered, feel free to complete the form again. *Please make sure your email address is accurate before you submit the form.

Next week we will read and discuss chapter 10, "Discover Your Way to Success."

273 comments:

  1. Create the Culture

    # 1 Page 249 ""You know culture when you feel it..." This made me lough aloud because it is so much like the traditional, "I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it."

    # 2 I suppose because I have several close friends entrenched in corporate America, I am a bit unaffected by the trite "Create the Culture" statement. The notion of "culture" today can mean something totally different to different people. We use it to describe morale, mood, atmosphere, and aura. The definition of organizational culture given on page 250 (and footnoted # 4) was not familiar to me, and wasn't a definition that I was able to "keep" with me as I read through the chapter. "Culture" just did not seem like the appropriate word.

    # 3 The question "...how do you create a "good" culture was posed on page 250./ More to the point, to me at least, is who decides what a "good" culture is in the first place?

    Some of my students honestly believe that marriage at age 17...baby by age 18...mobile home and confederate flag flying in the yard is a "good" culture. Problems of "what to do" "where to live" and other similar questions are answered in one neat package.

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    1. The culture of a classroom is so important. The word respect comes to my mind. Having a growth mindset can really influence a shift in expectations. This summer book study has allowed me to really ponder some important goals for my upcoming clasroom. I love this format.

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    2. I agree Susan. Culture and Respect are so important. I know I create the culture in my class just by the day I am having. Funny, I can usually turn someone's day to a smile. The students do the same for me. Love growth mindset, too. I have just begun incorporating it into daily routines. It gives my kids confidence.

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  2. # 4 Priorities vs Processes I had a bit of trouble thinking about the mother (page 252) for whom "having a tidy house was a priority for her" proceeding to instill this same priority in her children. Certainly the skills necessary for bed-making and picking up personal belongings has to be taught, but at what point do we respect a person for whom tidiness is NOT a priority. I have parented six children (youngest is in 7th grade), and one of the first things I learned was to realize my children were uniquely individual and their comfort levels, temperaments, intellect, personalities, and personal preferences were not the same. Never making a bed is fine for some kids. Making a bed with military bounce-a-coin-on the surface fits well for others. I believe that we do need skills, goals, etc., and in a classroom for group setting one child's preferences can not infringe upon the learning experience of others, but this example rubbed me the wrong way (and I have often been heard to say "you don't work - you don't eat" to my kids).

    # 5. MEETINGS quote page 253 "But meetings are important for communicating about school-wide activities and providing teachers time to coordinate...." I had to laugh again when I read this. My son, a graduate student working towards a doctorate degree in Philanthropy and Non-Profit Business recently mentioned that he had to attend a meeting that was advertised as "a meeting to establish the protocol for meetings." A meeting about how to have a meeting. There is just something about that that makes me wonder.

    Having said that, however, I was again proud of my school because every single staff meeting begins with positive shout outs and the reports of quick things to celebrate. They can be school or personal related. They are always good chances for smiles and laughter. They feel nice.

    # 6 Sometimes the desired culture (the culture to shape) is not really embraced by every student, administrator, or teacher. There is a lack of uniformity among teachers that can lead to disagreements and inequality within the school day. For example, a student came to me one time venting his frustration because his older brother (who was a minor) had been arrested when he was with a group of older men who robbed some homes. The brother was facing charges and was likely to be charged as an adult due to prior troubles with the law. The student was upset, angry, frustrated, confused, and totally upset. In the course of his talking with me, he used the "f---" word several times. No big deal to me and totally understandable for the situation. My "desired culture" was one in which a student would reveal himself and his raw, personal struggles to me...so openly...displaying a trust and belief in me that I was honored to serve. Another teacher (at a conference about this student) mentioned that he would have "written up a discipline referral for the use of profanity" had this conversation been brought to him. Really? How would the two of us ever really come to a compromise about such an incident? And doesn't this disagreement indicate a huge gap in philosophy that is more critical, say than how to allow bathroom privileges to students?

    This was a good chapter for me because more than any of the others, I found myself questioning the author and wondering about the basis for understanding - I just didn't think I was "fitting" with the groundwork that was supposed to be intrinsic for the reader to "get" the text.

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    1. We will never be in exactly the same place at the same time. We know this. There are several teachers, staff, administrators, etc. That do not feel the same way about the culture your school school should be at. The point, to me, is to have a committee that comes up with plans and expect everyone to follow it. When it does not work, you come back together and try something else. I look at my school and can not see this happening, which is frustrating. Too many people wAnt to be boss and have everything their way...too set I their ways. I feel the way it out s explained in this chapter is desirable but unrealistic to many.

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    2. I really like your response and the format you used. There is no confusion as to your meaning. I find myself agreeing with most of your responses.

      I was intrigued by your responses #3 and #6. I have a daughter in law who did her student teaching in a private school for "last chance" students (ones who, if they fail at this school, they are done in school). When she introduced herself to one of her classes and said that she was recently engaged, one of the high school girls asked how many kids she had. When she said none, that she wasn't married yet, the student said what does that have to do with it. she came from a culture where kids related to money from the state and federal government.

      My son also teachers. He had a principal ask him in an interview, what are you going to do if one of the students drops the f-bomb in class. My son asked, I don't know, what do you want me to do. the principal was relieved stating finally a teacher that understand. Culture works for our students as well. they were raided different and have a different thought about what is proper language and when words can be used (and the girls are even worse).

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    3. I totally agree with the culture being very vague. I also want my students to be able to talk to me about anything. I had a student this past year working through his medical issues with not finding the right medication. It was causing ticks and inability to get his words out. Kids weren't patient and were at times unkind. He stayed after many days to tell me he was "pissed" and frustrated because he felt like no one knew what it felt like to not be able to get his words out. I always rephrased what he said by commenting, "I understand you're angry because....". If teachers were around, some would ask why I allowed him to speak to me like that. I told them his word choice wasn't aimed at me. It was raw and in the moment and if that was how he processed things, it worked for me. I think there are so many cultures within a building because each teacher creates his/her own culture within the building. I believe that professional development that REALLY makes a difference should be utilized because only by understanding how your culture fits in the blended classroom realm can we learn to use and apply it. Too much time is spent on training us in insignificant things that don't really matter and we never get to the important stuff like how to reach the kids best. Culture is an ambiguous word in that its definition changes, depending on who is reading it.

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  3. Culture is such a general term and means different things to different people. This is so true even within the environment of our school. What I think about culture may be completely opposite of another school staff member, thus the dilemma. "Culture is especially useful-or toxic-in blended programs because blended learning goes hand in hand with giving students more control and flexibility." This statement is so true especially in a school culture.

    I feel the section on What is Culture? brought to light many aspects of the importance of culture and how it can be successful/or disastrous. Creating a good culture is key to successfully springboard into blended learning. I felt the essential rules for creating or changing culture was helpful. This is a good guideline on how to begin. This chapter was useful to understand that creating the right culture is critical.

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    1. I agree. With dozens of teachers working in one school and ALL with a different background and life experiences, added to HUNDREDS of students with different experiences, "culture" is a great challenge! I almost feel that it would take years to create and blended and accepted "culture" to everyone, which at that point might be obsolete since students graduate and move on to the next grade at the next building. Perhaps once your first group of students is graduated up, it would be easier to keep it going with every new KG enrolled class - which I have seen before - just not in quite this much depth.

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    2. I also agree. I feel that I work in school that accepts new ideas and uses technology to blend the traditional teaching with the 21st century learning. However, we have still have teachers that can barely use a computerized grade book and students who don't feel comfortable with devices. Our school is also working as quickly as they can to get the buildings ready for technology, but lack of funding makes this a slower process. The culture of the building will eventually move to a digital, balanced learning environment, but it will take a few years.

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    3. I completely agree with you. Culture can be so many different things to different people. Schools have students and teachers all coming together from many different cultures and it can change in the matter of minutes. My school is working to bring more computers into the classrooms; however, with the lack of computers it is difficult to springboard into much blended learning. There is such a huge undertaking when changing schools to implement more technology as it has to provide understanding of the technology to all the teacher some of which are better using technology then others plus get all the students to buy in. I did like how it explains how to create a better culture in the classroom with blended learning so it is not going to be detrimental to learning.

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  4. We have eight elementary schools in our district, and it always interesting when we get together for grade level meetings or PD to discuss things because you see how the "culture" is different at each school. The people, starting with the principal, create the culture and it reflects with your interactions with each other as colleagues, students and parents. Sometimes you don't even realize your "culture" needs a complete overhaul while you're in it until something or someone brings something to your attention or something changes within your building. This year we've redistricted, built a new school in the district and will refigure students again next year so we are definitely blending new staff, students and families this year at my school. We are working very hard to create a warm and welcoming culture for both of school families. Next year we'll be 1 teacher per grade so I think we'll be exploring all options and a blended-learning model might work to meet the needs of cross grade levels. It's difficult to plan right now because we're in a transition year, but it's always good to have new ideas.

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    1. Jill, I completely agree with you that a school's "culture" is greatly impacted by the leadership. I've been teaching for nearly 20 years and I've worked with principals who possessed a more dictatorship type of role to our current principal who believes in collaboration. Due to the strong support of our administration, I feel that our K-12 school corporation, overall, is conducive to a blended learning environment. Last year, we went 1:1 with chromebooks. Teachers were provided with support and tech training to implement this new approach to learning. Like any corporation, we've experienced bumps in the road. However, I feel that we've been able to confront the needed "shifts" in a positive manner that has allowed us to move forward towards our ultimate instruction and learning objectives.

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    2. I also agree that the culture is greatly defined by the principle. I am currently teaching pre-k at a church while renewing my elementary license, but I can say that the school my kids attend has had a little bit of a culture change since getting a new principle. I loved the culture of the school with the other principle but I am now aware of a few problems that I didn't know about. The students would meet in the gym before school and would leave as whole classes to their classrooms. Students were getting In Trouble before school even began because of the lack of structure. The principle's way of fixing the problem was to change the culture. The kids now go straight to their classrooms when they arrive in the morning.

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  5. I think that my school is a "mostly" conducive environment for blended learning. The reason I say "mostly" is because we have a small population of veteran teachers who have been doing a good job for a long time and they would adhere tightly to the "if it's not broke don't fix it" philosophy. This is not to say with pressure and help that they would not change to a new way of thinking, but to get them to do it would be a struggle initially. So, a shift in culture would definitely be called for in my school system. We also have several new teachers and an IT staff who would be very helpful in making changes toward blended learning. I believe these would be the struggles and solutions to almost any school desiring to become a blended school. I think once changes were required throughout a school system changes would be made, probably with a bit of grumbling, but this seems a typical and expected outcome with any major job change.

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    1. I agree with your comments concerning veteran teachers. We have several veteran teachers who seem to be resistant to changes. I see them trying to understand and use technology but always fall back to the "old school" ways.

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    2. My school corporation is very small, a K through 12 building to be exact. I feel our environment is pretty good for blended learning, but just like you, we have some veterans who have that same mindset. We recently were one to one for the first time last year, and I think as we evolve, it will get better for us all.

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    3. We have a good mix of teachers young and old. Every school is going to have a couple teachers that do not like change. What I've found is that if you give them the opportunity to be involved and help share insight then they are much more willing. Many veteran teachers can give very good advice and have a great deal of knowledge from their many years of experience.

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    4. We also have a good mix of teachers! I cringe when people say veteran teachers are the ones who are not willing to change. My obersvation is those who are not trained (both new and veteran teachers) and forced to use technology are often intimidated or nervous using these devices.

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    5. @Amy Moore...thank you for your comment about veteran teachers. With proper good training, and help along the way...most veterans, younger and new teachers can implement technology and blended learning.

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  6. Understanding culture’s importance as a former student and now as a teacher, I appreciate an environment that is comfortable and orderly. PBIS has framed this culture where I teach, along with current building administrators who try to keep morale strong among both teachers and students. Our school’s PBIS system bases its discipline on three tenets under which all good behaviors can be classified as our school committee chose respect, responsibility, and personal best. This approach adapts to cover any environment such as blended learning as there are matrices for many different areas in the school showing how best behavior looks in those locations. We start the year with all of the homerooms participating in a video competition to produce videos modeling how the behaviors in a particular area should be lived out routinely. There have been some memorable videos over the years; students enjoy making them and watching each other’s interpretations of the correct and incorrect behaviors. It has worked a lot like Horn and Staker say: if the solutions are successful, then repeat until the processes and priorities become reflex within the organization's culture.
    Horn, Michael B.; Staker, Heather. Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools (p. 255).

    To structure my own classroom, I utilize the system of the same three behavior qualities; therefore, I have very few rules or procedures beyond asking students to keep their behaviors in line with respect, responsibility and personal best. Likewise, a reminder of these three qualities is posted on every classroom wall and hallway to remind everyone of the goals. When good behavior is exhibited, students are rewarded. Our staff writes notes for good student behavior, then those students are recognized, and their names put into a drawing for prizes. I love writing these notes to students. On the contrary, when there is an outbreak of general school-wide poor behavior (tardies, for example) then there is an increased school-wide effort to eliminate this problem sometimes by making it a competition by grade level or as a whole pack. Because some students cannot seemingly ever bring their own behaviors in sync with the expectations; a special behavior intervention team devises more strict plans for a few who need more defined guidelines and consequences for a time or forever. Although rewards are supposed to be a big part of the program, I don’t know that these push or inspire students to behave better, but outwardly rewarding good behavior does send a message of what is expected. While we probably could have done more to support digital citizenship when we started the 1:1 initiative a few years ago, the foundation of our PBIS program to promote respect, responsibility, and personal best encompasses any version of behavior face-to-face or on a device. As previously mentioned, committed administrators and fellow teachers are the key to boosting morale and supporting the school culture; and we hope to repeat it starting next week.

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    1. We have a system similar to yours, and it's effective for most, but not all. Some students we just can't reach because their cultural background/home life doesn't make them conducive to our system. We have teams in our grades, and that allows us to work with like-minded teachers on how to benefit these kids academically and socially. Having the team allows us to move a student to a teacher that they respond well to. We have repeated this with several struggling students and seen success.

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  7. I believe that my school environment is conducive to a blended learning environment. Individual teachers are highly encouraged to use the new devices that our school provides, and the system is trying to provide all the resources that teachers need including an increasing number of devices, upgraded bandwidth, and a learning management system with which we can incorporate different types of learning for students/groups of students. There is currently a lot of potential in our schools right now. I believe that it will certainly take time and effort to implement change, but I see incremental change happening all the time, and an open-minded culture is present in which new ideas can be tried and evaluated.

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    1. I feel exactly the same in my school district. A lot of effort is put forth to establish a better learning environment with proper learning tools. I agree that it will indeed take time and effort to achieve the changes needed for blended learning. We are definitely on the right track in my district.

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    2. The same applies to my school. We are encouraged to work towards creating the best learning environment that is possible, and we do that through colaborating with one another. As a district we are being asked to stretch ourselves to make the necessary changes that maked blended learning work. It's terrific that we're not required to change absolutely everything all at once, but work at it subject by subject.

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    3. I agree! Our district has been cautious in terms of waiting and researching to find the right technology tools and give all staff many opportunities for support. We are encouraged to learn and enhance our teaching with appropriate use of technology. Our school staff is a blend of experienced teachers who need a little more support with technology and younger teachers who are very comfortable and skilled with technology. The experienced teachers in our school are open to learning and and the younger teachers are very willing to share. I believe we are in a good place to incorporate blended learning.

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  8. I believe that culture can mean different things to different people especially when going to meetings with other schools. I think my school is somewhat conducive to a blended learning environment. We have many younger teachers who are eager to learn and get things moving, where there are still many teachers that are learning how to just learn the basics. I know this year we will have several new things thrown at us to learn and we will have to work together. Our school is a CLASS school and we follow a lot of procedures and structure our classrooms based on this teaching model/method. All teachers in the building have similar ways of following procedures so it is uniform throughout the building. In our own classrooms, you can mix it up how you would like to best seem fit, but in the hallways, restrooms, and other places it is similar. This is a part of how we do things at our school to make sure the students are following procedures and and helps with behavior.
    I think it will take some effort and time to completely move to a blending learning environment. Everyone will need to be on the same page with understanding how it works. I would definitely recommend training for this at our school.

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    1. I agree that culture means different things to different people. We often forget that our students have their on culture. How they act, how they dress, and how they talk are very different to when we were that age. We (educators) have to take that into account and teach these students what we want and what is expected.

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    2. I completely agree with you. Students definitely have their own culture and I imagine it will continue to change over time. Teaching the students procedures and expectations is always something that will have to be done from year to year.

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  9. I found myself focusing on the, "It's not too late" section on page 260. Culture seems like such an elusive concept for me. I have certainly heard experts speak on it and have read many articles touting it's importance. This page struck a cord with me because it seems like an overwhelming task to get all staff, parents and students together on a set of beliefs. Taking, "..one task at a time." makes it seem possible. We are so diverse and dysfunctional so maybe that is what makes it so difficult. The culture of the home is so different then the culture being perpetuated by the school. Basic behavior and manners, effort, persistence and most importantly , hope. Trying to help students see what is possible for their lives is a tough one. They don't know what they don't know. Getting staff members to get past the perceptions of failure for the struggling students that walk in the door, can also be a hurdle.
    My hope is to send the message to students and staff that a culture of blended learning can help us all be more successful. My staff is receptive to technology but they know little about blended learning. I believe they will embrace it when they understand the impact it could have on their roles and the difference it could make for our students.

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  10. I don't believe the culture of my school would be quite ready to implement blended learning. We have a decent culture now, but it would need to be tightened up a bit. I think the bigger issue here is the teachers. If you don't have a faculty and staff that is 100% committed to this culture, it can never be. Teachers have to support the culture and be willing to do what needs to be done to enforce it. This is a huge problem in our building. If the administration isn't crystal clear in what they want, we can't help out too much. Our administration also tends to waver on what is and isn't acceptable, so teachers have a hard time knowing what behaviors we should and shouldn't be correcting. Luckily, we are responsible for the culture in our classrooms and can make that however we want it to look. I love the thought of having a culture like this, I think this book just makes it seem a little easier than what it would be. Bottom line is, you need support from all angles and a strong administration to pull it off. Of course this is just my common sense talking because I have never taught in a school with this type of strict school culture.

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    1. I completely agree that blended learning will only work successfully when everyone is on board and working together towards a common goal.

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    2. I certainly agree with both of you about the need for everyone to be on board for the changes to have a chance at success.

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    3. I don't think I could have said it any better than you just did! To get everyone on board takes work and it starts with the administration telling us what they want. I also agree with being in charge of my own classroom climate.

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    4. I completely agree! In a perfect world and in a perfect school this system seems to be a no brainer. However when you add in all of the stakeholders it starts to seem way more challenging. I think incorporating this blended learning would be very challenging at the school level right now in my school because everyone would definitely need to be on board and I'm not sure that would happen all at once! I love your comment about creating your own culture in your classroom.

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    5. This conversation is striking a cord with me as well. I can control the culture in my classroom. That is something I work hard on doing. I like a culture that values hard work and effort, but is safe enough to allow for mistakes and trying again. We have such a large mixture of people in our building in regards to blended learning. I think the culture needs to be set my the administration for it to truly become the make up of the building. Often, I think so much gets thrown at administrators that it is difficult to address everything. Sometimes good ideas get drowned out with more urgent concerns.

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  11. The way culture is defined by Edgar Schein on page 250 is new to me. Culture has been addressed as something that as a teacher you need to keep in mind when developing your classroom environment and behavior plan. The general school culture is often referred to as our school family. The school I am at has gone through several changes including a new principal in the middle of last year and again this coming year there are teachers retiring and many switches in teaching levels. When the new principal came in January it was after the Christmas break and she had put up all these positive messages in the teachers’ lounge and started staff meeting of using positive stories from the internet and from her personal life. I think she is trying the celebration approach that the authors mention on page 253. It is going to be interesting to see has the culture in our school evolves with all the changes.

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    1. I understand what you mean by the changing of the culture with different teams of teachers and different administration. Two years ago, my school was in a situation much like yours with the principal leaving mid-year except ours happened with spring break. The old principal didn't do much for the culture of the school. He seemed defeated all year which didn't make the culture a very good one. When the new principal came in, things started to change. She was all for the students and the teachers and creating a positive culture and atmosphere. It is interesting to see how one person can affect a whole building sometimes. It makes me wonder what type of affect I have on the culture of my own classroom.

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  12. I feel that the culture of my school has the potential for a blended learning environment. The teachers seem to want to do what's best for the students and look for ways to enhance the learning structure. Over the past several years I've seen/heard of many co-workers trying new and unique instructional strategies in their classrooms, and I feel that they would be open to blended learning. I truly believe that we have highly motivated teachers that seek out new exciting ways to present information!
    I do see something in our school culture that might need to change... over the past few years, we've taken on a policy that students can turn in work late (no true due dates). As a teacher of upper-classmen, this creates a "culture" where my seniors (after 4 years of school) have decided that nothing needs to be turned in when the teacher requests it. It can sometimes make class discussions quite challenging! Thus, if I have a video for a "flipped class," and would say to watch it by Wednesday's class, I'd be lucky if half the class watched it-- add some response questions to try to hold students accountable--they'll just plan to turn them in late!
    Will this work with a blended learning environment?

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  13. I do believe my school culture is somewhat conducive to blended learning, as it does have the infrastructure in place. We are a 1:1 iPad school. Also, teachers have been undergoing training for several years about how to use this technology in their lessons. Students have used the technology long enough that it is second nature to them.
    However, there is a part of our school culture that makes it less conducive to blended learning. There is a sense among our teachers that they are overwhelmed, so trying something new in technology is often just one more thing to add to an already full plate, so many resort to the old ways of what has always worked best. This leaves a culture where not all teachers, and even students, are on board with fully embracing the technology to its best advantage.
    As I read the chapter, I could not escape the nagging thought of the community culture of our school. Yes, I believe that the school itself can have a great impact on students within the 7 hours they are in our building. But what about the other hours the students are out in the community? I am greatly encouraged by the schools in high poverty, high unemployment areas that make their students achieve greatness. I would like to see more of that at my school.
    One takeaway I had from this chapter was the idea to set up a group to tackle a problem. Once that group is successful, let them attack another problem. If something works, empower the fixers to continue their success. What a great motivation for furthering achievement among staff and students!

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  14. Culture can make or break a school. I've taught at a school where the culture has been profoundly negative and it reflected in nearly every facet of the function of the school.My current school is ready to go and although I believe that the administration had some reservations with moving 1:1 and the unwillingness of some of the teachers to jump on board, we have definitely far exceeded those reservations/expectations. Now, the administration sees that we are all on board with moving forward and we can continue on the right path. We definitely have a long way to go but the skeletal structure is there and, sometimes, that's the hardest part.

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    1. The author focuses on taking the small steps to get where you want it to be. Sounds like that is what your school is doing!

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  15. I love the idea of blended learning but our school/school district is large and each school tries to get on the same page but there are so many that each ends up doing something different. Like the chapter says, if the culture is uneven, the execution can fall apart. We have several teachers that would be open to blended learning, but like always you will have others that are not open to it. I love the idea of giving students more control and flexibility though. Also, the chapter talked about working together toward common goals that have been followed frequently. A lot of times everyone has different goals and they are not followed frequently.
    I liked reading about the Eyre family too. Where they learned to first teach the children "how", then letting "them" set the goal. I agree to proceeding with caution when managing culture because it is long lasting. And how culture is formed through repetition. This is why I work so hard on starting the school year off right! I make sure to hold students to high expectations for behavior and have rewards and consequences for those behaviors. I also agree with the importance of communication and following it through.

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  16. I am fortunate because my school's culture is welcoming, to all students, and to new ideas. Most of the staff are supportive of purposeful change and willing to explore any style of learning necessary to benefit our students. Our architecture is not particularly conducive, but I feel there are accommodations we can start making immediately to incorporate more blended learning across the curriculum. Our greatest obstacles will be finding resources and finding time to create resources.

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  17. My culture at my school is one that is mostly open to change, wants to keep up educationally and always watching upcoming trends and advances in education. I think admin, teachers and students alike would accept the idea of blended learning and possibly even embrace it. I think where the problem could potentially be is the parents. Parents could view this as less time with teacher and not realize really there would be more individualized time and learning happening. I am at a private school with a lot of parent involvement.

    I really liked the idea of having a problem solving group. I would select different personalities to be within this group. A logical thinker, a person who can see past their point of view, an empathetic person, a an opinionated person and a more sensitive person. Together they could hash out and come up with potential answers to problems.

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  18. I wish this chapter would have focused more on how to gain buy-in for cultural changes. I see several different cultures existing within our district. There is the corporation culture, elementary school culture, secondary school culture, building culture, and classroom culture all working together (or against) one and another, shaping how successful blended learning will be. When addressing cultural changes, I think it would be beneficial to pull together members of each of those cultures to work out a solution that is reasonable and meets the needs of each of those cultures--but is that even possible? Somebody always feels left out or unsatisfied--which can fuel resistance. How do you take the sum of all these different cultures and create buy-in?

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  19. My school and district is right on the brink of becoming a great district for blended learning. All the pieces are in place as far as material things. We just need to adjust the culture and ideas of the collective crew a little so everyone is on board and does do things in a way that is second nature. Some of us, me included at times, are old fashioned and don't always jump right on board. I would love to see more training with technology so we all feel comfortable and have some driving force behind us that offers us support. Leadership is everything! That sets the time for everyone's attitudes, inspirations, and motivation. I feel most administrators are in the right mind frame and are eager to be innovative and help change the culture of education at many levels. Our technology resources, leadership, and culture will lead us to great things...but I deceptively always know that it all begins with...me! I need to create my own classroom culture and create an inspirational classroom. I need to have and hold students and myself to high standards. That is where the curb meets the road. From the classroom to the school to the families to the community, we all have to great and maintain a positive, creative, and hard working culture to really see what we can become.

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  20. I don’t think the current culture within the school would be conducive to blended learning, simply due to the pre-existing methods and structural conditions already in place. However, I believe people would be willing to work toward a culture that would support a blended learning environment if provided with solid support toward that as an end goal.

    I liked the point made at the top of pg 250, “If students lack the processes and cultural norms to handle that agency, the shift toward a personalized environment can backfire.” As much as teachers will have to shift their routine practices to embrace teaching in a blended learning environment, students will have to do much the same. Transitioning from a traditional “factory model” setting one year to a customized learning plan the next year could be a struggle for students who are not self-motivated. A shift in culture will need to be viewed from multiple perspectives, especially from the students.

    I really liked the idea of starting each meeting by sharing positivity. We start our faculty meetings in the same way. It provides the opportunity to hear about what may be happening in other parts of the building from people we may not have a chance to interact with regularly. Our district curriculum director has even taken this a step further and keeps a running slide show highlighting what teachers across three different schools have done and recognizes their positive contributions. I think this boosts morale and also inspires other teachers to try something new or innovative in their own classroom.

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    1. The idea of the running slide show highlighting teacher contributions is a great idea. Thanks for sharing it. My principal and I were just discussing how we could recognize staff members and share their ideas. Since we are a small school and most staff members already wear more than one hat, we just need to think of a way to do something similar to this so that it doesn't become too burdensome for anyone person.

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  21. To keep me from becoming overwhelmed, I am reading the book Blended chapter by chapter as I respond to the blog. This chapter really hit home. Last week, my principal and I were discussing some issues we hoped to address during the school year. As a part of this discussion, I stated that my passion was curriculum and lesson design. My principal stated that his passion was school culture. He felt that with the problems we are seeing in general society, we need to address school culture. He has attempted to affect culture by implementing yearly mottos, displaying weekly quotes, rewarding positive practices, etc.; however, it has been his efforts alone.

    As we talked I told him I agreed that culture was important but until we developed a common goal implemented and reinforced by both teachers and students, just hearing a weekly quote would not promote culture. He asked me what I would do and I quickly tossed out a couple of suggestions about developing ways teachers could incorporate his motto or quotes into weekly lessons and, in turn, would share the idea with him. He could use these examples as shares during a staff meeting, etc.

    When I read this chapter about “Create the Culture,” I kept thinking, “I need to share this chapter with my principal. Following the six essential rules for creating or changing a culture listed on page 255 will be a great place for use to start. In fact, using these rules and examples provided, I plan to use a group of students to address some of the “culture” issues I am having in the library. .

    Creating a culture is essential to building a successful blended learning environment. I don’t think our building is there, yet. However, a good thing about moving forward to establish a blended learning culture is that while in the process, we will also be addressing some of our general learning culture deficiencies. Now, the challenge is to work together to begin the first step by defining a problem on which we wish to focus.

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  22. I believe for the most part schools in our district are ready for the shift. To be honest it's a must to stay cutting edge and current. I feel that our culture in our building will accept the changes. A few may be hesitant as change can be challenging. However I feel that they with time will embrace the change. My favorite part was the Gilroy Prep style. I feel if we set up expectations it will instill success.

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  23. Question:
    Think about your school and the current culture. Does it seem like it would be conducive to a blended learning environment or are there some shifts in the culture that might be necessary?
    My school corporation already offers a high school credit recovery program and and few other programs, but I would not go as far to say that we are totally in a blended learning program. At the elementary level, we have the i-Ready math and reading program, and I feel that it is something I could utilize in a lab rotation. As far as going a bit deeper, I feel that will come in time. I know we have to start somewhere, and I feel that incorporating a lab rotation may be successful in my classroom this school year since we are going 1:1 with classroom sets of Chromebooks. Until our administration gives other support and guidance in other ways, I feel this is what is best for me. I am looking forward to giving it a try.

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  24. This chapter confirmed for me that I need to keep doing what I've been doing in the classes I teach. I work with adults and there are differing opinions about how strict we should be with our expectations. This chapter emphasized the importance of setting a culture of high standards and expectations for students. It was also helpful to think through what's new or different for students in a blended learning environment and to make sure students are clearly shown new expectations.

    In terms of institutional changes, it's really helpful to realize you can address one small thing at a time and still move in a positive direction, even if there are many things that need to change to get to a positive blended learning environment.

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    1. I agree. I think setting a culture of high standards no matter the age of the students is of utmost importance. Also true about changing things one at a time. Noah didn't build his arc in a day either ... :)

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    2. Joanne, I agree with you completely! I appreciate your high expectations for your students and that you are unwilling to back down from them. I have watched you identify a problem, brainstorm a solution, then implement that solution. I am thinking in particular of your use of cell phones during class time. This is the sort of process we need to use as a program. We need to implement a culture of learning and growth across the board. I am hoping to help us toward that goal one small problem at a time. I am hoping for consistency in our classrooms so that we can establish a culture of success across our entire adult education program.

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  25. Establishing a classroom culture can greatly benefit a group of students. I am about to embark on a two year journey with the same group of students in third and fourth grade. The way I start the school year and clearly outline the rules and expectations is critical. This chapter has made me think long and hard about how to best get my ideas and methods across to my students.

    I like in the chapter where it stated that kids need to be taught the right way to do things. Do not assume kids know what you mean until you have modeled for them exactly what your words are saying.

    The story of the Carpe Diem leader making sure the students walked into the school in the correct fashion brought me back to my high school soccer playing days. Our coach insisted each summer we completed our team warmup correctly. He would make us start over if anyone stepped out of line or made an error while completing the warmup. I hated this practice, sometimes it lasted a full hour and we would not even touch a soccer ball during the whole session. It did however, instill a sense of pride in completing our warmup in the exact manner that he laid out for us.

    The principal at my school is incredible and our staff and students have a great culture established so transitioning into a healthy culture was very easy for me. Before every staff meeting he gives us a chance to share any celebrations to get our meeting started off on a positive note and as well as feeling more of a connection with the whole group. I really like this idea in my classroom. Incorporating this into the daily morning routine during community circle would be a neat way to get our school day started off on a bright note.

    I did like the reminder in this chapter about tackling recurring problems or task. We have classroom jobs and sometimes they aren't getting done efficiently so we intervene and discuss how we could make sure the job gets done properly. Usually through dialogue and brainstorm we can all agree to a plan that works for all parties. We also have group meetings when we are struggling in a particular area. Last year a group of students were having trouble behaving in music class. We intervened, came up with a plan, and from that point on we did better and better. I made sure to revisit our goals for music class each week and remind them how well they were improving and the class responded positively.

    One small note on this chapter. I really liked the practical blended learning approach shared by the Navigator school. Sending students daily lesson assessments to group the kids on which ones understood the lesson and which ones needs more retracting. To send the students that understood the material to start their own blended learning really makes sense and that free up time to work with the ones who needs more coaching and teaching. I like that model!

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    1. The reminder to "not assume that kids know what you mean" is definitely on target for my third graders, too. Even after modeling what we are saying, some students still won't understand and will go on with the task without fully "getting it".

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  26. Culture......Wow, that is a really ambiguous term when it comes to education. It is highly important, but hard to change. Culture can be academics, athletics, activities, From my experiences in education the culture of the school comes more from the community, students, teachers, and parents. I think that it is really hard to change the culture of a school let alone Create the Culture. Brick and Mortar schools can change culture with educational opportunities available to the students. We have gone through a culture shift at my school. Twenty plus years ago, we were a small 50% rural/ 50% suburban school that had the typical graduation requirements for students to choose. Since then, we have switched to the largest high school in the county. We are 80% suburban 20% with high expectations from parents & staff. The culture of the school is largely dictated by parents, staff, community, and students. We have many different programs for students who wish to be successful in many different paths. I am highly PRO-public schools. I am not a fan of Charter or Parochial schools. I see blended Learning being successful in both public and other types of schools, but I feel that this Blended Learning idea is pointed more towards Parochial or Charter schools that can not offer what public schools can. The CULTURE of Blended Learning is a tricky situation, because for the most part, the students are stuck in front of a computer....which is how society is now headed.

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  27. I really liked the "It's not too late" section. While I am planning on implementing this into my classroom so that it fits my content and my students, The it's not too late section really encouraged me in how to move forward in establishing and changing culture within a building. I really liked how it encouraged to kind of set tasks in order of importance and focus on one task at a time. With the first day of school coming in just a few, short weeks, this has really encouraged me to figure out how to go about implementing this for the best outcome of my students, my classroom, and my colleagues.

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    1. "It is never too late to do the right thing." I agree with you: this is a great philosophy. It is often spoken when the right thing is neither popular nor easy. There is no shortage of times in a school year or in life when it is applicable.

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  28. I feel like I am repeating myself a lot during these discussions, but I don't feel like the atmosphere where I teach can ever go fully into a blended learning environment. First, I am a kindergarten teacher and I don't think 5 and 6 year old students can fully understand their own learning at this age. They love to investigate and love to learn but they need guidance. You tell a 5 or 6 year old to go explore what they want to learn about and you won't see them looking deeper into math or science interests you will see them wanting to learn about a police officer or a fireman or even how to become the next American Ninja Warrior. Students in the k-5 world need more guidance than explained in a truly blended learning environment. Now, can there be blended learning components a k-5 building uses to improve their schools? Yes. I do think there are some excellent points in a blended learning environment, but we have a long way to go; in my opinion.

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    1. I totally agree with you Jason. As a second grade teacher, I can not see my students taking control of their education (most of them) as they are too impulsive. Thank you for helping me feel like I am not the only teacher feeling frustrated.

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    2. I also agree with you. I teach preschool and they would not be able to be in a fully blended learning environment. They could have some experiences with blended learning but they need to learn the basic skills and reading readiness and math readiness. They need to learn in a hands on method.

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    3. I also teach kindergarten. Totally agree with you! We are seeing such a need to teach fine motor skills longer and more in depth than ever before. The children who are raised on iPads, tablets, etc. are suffering in fine motor skills (several with social skills too) . Too much of a good thing for these little ones isn't always best!?

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  29. The culture of a school and a classroom can be a deal breaker. I am getting ready to start my second year at an amazing school corporation. I taught for 12 years at a school corporation that was fractured and overwrought with distressed teachers, unreliable technology and resources, and decisions that were made from the top down with very little, if any, input from teachers and parents.
    Where I am at now, I feel supported and encouraged. I feel like I can step out of my comfort zone and approach something like blended learning because I can rely and depend on our technology/resources, my colleagues, and my administration.
    My school is already in the blended learning mindset. We had a two day professional development opportunity offered at the end of the last school year to kick off the blended initiative and give us something to think about over the summer. Most of the breakout sessions were led by teachers that are already implementing a blended curriculum. It was very encouraging to see my colleagues in action and to get an idea of where I can start this year.

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    1. So lucky you were able to find a place that suits you.

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    2. It is wonderful! I'm grateful to have a wonderful team teacher who is right there with me in this journey. Hurray for the start of what is going to be a terrific year with blended learning!

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  30. Discussing culture in this chapter as "a way of working together toward common goals" was definitely an interesting shift in my general view of culture. Recognizing the importance of establishing procedures that guide culture was key for me. I've never deliberately thought of culture as developing in this way. Since the shift to blended learning is something I want to work on this year starting in just my classroom, I'm feeling like there's a good chance to establish priorities and processes with my students that will create the culture I'm striving for. Though my school has been working to challenge students more and more, I think the culture I want to establish will push them even further to take responsibility for and, in turn, pride in their learning.

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  31. My whole school isn't switching to a blended learning environment, so I am looking at this more of the culture within my personal classroom. I don't think my whole school is at a cultural point to accept blended learning. We have some things as a school to accomplish before we are able to move in that direction and I would gladly be on the team to identify the problems and attack them in a constructive way. Since we aren't moving in that direction as a whole I am going to take the advice from this chapter and apply it to my personal classroom. I will use this advice for when things aren't working out and we are having a tough time getting along. I know this will take a lot of modeling on how to move through the class and through this new set up and I'm ready for the upcoming road blocks, bumps, and crashes. Education is evolving as so is the culture with which our kids come from so in ever area of the school it is going to be extra important to establish a culture that models what they should be doing in that area.

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  32. Chapter 9 - Create the Culture
    I think blended learning environment is something my school system gradually over time may switch into. We had training last school year on Canvas. Students and teachers have found value in using Canvas. Last year we were required to use Canvas in only one class. This year it is expected to use Canvas in all our classes. In the future, I hope to see my school use lab rotation, flipped classroom, station rotation, and individual rotation. We do have the internet devices and physical space. We would need to sit up SMART goals, and determine the primary role of the teacher and student.
    Very interesting chapter.

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    1. I think that it just takes time - we have had a learning management platform for many years and have been 1:1 for three years - and we are still working on things.

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  33. After reading Chapter 9 I found the list that summarizes the necessary rules for creating or changing a culture to be important. Shaping the culture for children is so valuable in promoting learning. I agree with the authors that it is essential to communicate and follow through with it. It just seems obvious that all of us work better and have more success in a setting where common goals have been established. I believe our school works together to reach common goals. I also think it is important for teachers to establish goals based on individual needs of students within their own classrooms.

    I appreciated the many examples of the power of culture for children in this chapter. I specifically liked the example of working together on chores in a strong family culture. This just emphasizes how children develop a strong sense of working together to get the chores done as a family. This example can be easily connected to an educator in the classroom who teaches the children "how" to do something and then allows them to set the goal. Shaping culture is powerful at school just as it is powerful at home!

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    1. Having worked in settings representative of a very broad spectrum of cultures, I completely agree that the rules for creating or changing a culture were very important. Honestly, some of the information from other chapters seemed to be a lot of common sense, and I think the suggestions for influencing culture may have been some of the most important information in the book, since that can be incredibly difficult to do, and I, for one, certainly had no idea how to start going about it when I was in a situation in which I would have liked to do so.

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  34. I feel very lucky to say that my current school would be conducive to some form of a blended learning environment. When I read about the “written artifact of culture” (Horn and Staker 254), I immediately thought about our school’s mission statement. “The mission of Carroll High School is to promote excellence in student’s academic, physical and social growth within a safe environment, while challenging them to become responsible, constructive citizens of an ever-changing world.” The idea of creating responsible and constructive citizens lends itself to the want as educators to promote self-confidence, leadership skills, and motivational opportunities all mentioned in this chapter on implementation. Through the creation of challenging curriculum structure, promoting continuous opportunities to think critically, and establishing a culture of trust and expectation, most students will naturally create autonomy in their learning process. Autonomy in learning will create more life long learners and thus more constructive citizens.

    I am constantly challenging myself to present an environment conducive to continual learning with “no down time” (Horn and Staker 258) as promoted in this chapter. I really think this will help each student fulfill our district mission.

    I do feel empowered to continue with constant personal reflection on my processes and priorities presented in the context of my classroom. I also noted that a list of challenges is a great place to start each year. The commitment to attack one task at a time seems manageable and achievable. I do wish that this culture of sharing creative ideas in reference to educating in our world today would continue throughout the school year. I have tried to look for colleagues within my district and intentionally read their blog posts each week to find like mindedness, or a willingness to continue these conversations once our blogging is over!

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  35. I am fortunate in that I feel that both my school's culture (teacher and administrative buy-in) and my district's culture (parent and family support of technology-aided education) is conducive to a blended learning environment. Our administration has taken care to provide ideas and training opportunities that aid teachers in becoming familiar with digital learning resources, and our students are largely from middle or upper class socio-economic-status families that recognize the importance of being able to utilize technology and collaborate via digital platforms in order to be successful in and beyond a K-12 setting.

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  36. After teaching 17 years in my district, I took a position that moved me to another elementary school in our district. I have to say this new building had a very positive culture toward students and toward all staff. There was no back stabbing and bad talk about staff members in classrooms, in the hallway or in the lounge. If there was a concern or problem, there was a team that you could go to and address a concern and the issue was quickly resolved. I was told coming in there is a positive culture in this building. Hearing it is one thing, but living it is really something special. Once a positive culture is established, blended learning and other programs would be discussed and received in an environment of this nature. I came to this building with a new STEM program and I felt it was extremely successful, and I contribute that success to the teachers and principal setting the culture and climate of the building. I feel it is never too late to build climate in a building.

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  37. I really liked that the authors included a chapter on culture. I am a big believer that establishing the right routines, expectations, etc. for both students and staff is essential to a school’s success. While the chapter explained what culture is and how to shape it, I would have liked to see a list of important aspects to consider when creating a culture for a blended learning environment. I understand that each school’s culture will be different and there is no one culture that will guarantee success for all schools, but what are some specifics that schools need to consider for a blended learning environment? As a school begins to change from a traditional school environment to a blended learning environment, are their aspects of the culture that will need to change? If any, what truly separates the culture of a successful traditional school and a successful blended learning environment? I would have liked to see these questions addressed in the chapter.

    When I think of my school’s culture, the first two things that comes to my mind are high expectations and accountability. My school has done a great job of establishing high expectations for both students and staff. Also, students are held accountable for their work and their behavior. As my school has integrated more and more technology (we went 1:1 last year), student accountability has been discussed more and more. For example, all teachers use Canvas to post assignments, reminders about upcoming assignments and tests, make-up work, etc. This is one way we are trying to eliminate excuses by providing students with a means to access information, handouts, and assignments for a course anywhere and anytime online through Canvas. The excuse “I lost my notes” doesn’t work anymore because students can always find another copy on Canvas; students can’t claim they didn’t know about the test because it was posted on the calendar on Canvas two weeks ago. I think these aspects of our culture are conducive with blended learning and will remain essential if my school moves in that direction.

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  38. Teaching in one of several elementary schools in our district, I can see issues arising when trying to incorporate blended learning throughout each school. However, in my own building I feel that we have the beginnings of an amazing culture. Our staff has been fairly consistent over the years and with new folks joining us, it has not changed that culture. Our newbies have learned about our positive expectations. My staff has always been a team that accomplishes our goals, even when we do not always agree. We could very likely implement the blended learning, but I am unsure how it will be received throughout the other buildings. Due to having a very transient population, we would need consistency within all buildings to achieve the true blended learning model.

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  39. I think that the many of the new teachers at my school would be very open to the new idea. I am one of the last remaining dinosaurs, but I would be open to the new idea and view it as refreshing. I think the principal would be open to it as well. The group that would not view it with a warm reception would be the very traditional parents and school board. I think they would view it as a way for teachers to not teach even though that is not the case. After that, money to train and help teachers make the switch would be another problem. I think it would be exciting, and it could reach some students who do not thrive in the traditional classroom. A public relations job would have to be attempted before this process could ever work in our school culture.

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  40. This is our third year of being 1:1 so I think that our school is on board for blended learning. There is so much variation that goes with it though - that is the part that I think we are still working with. Some teachers have jumped in with both feet, while others rarely use the technology that is available to both them and their students. We are a small self contained school so we don't have the issues of consistency between several different schools within a corporation. That being said, it is still not an easy transition to make - as a whole. The more time that is devoted to professional development, the better!

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  41. I would say the number one problem in my building is the culture. There are often a lot of chiefs and not enough indians. I worry that not everyone would buy into this. It would take strong support from everyone starting all the way at the top and ALL of us being on the same page.

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    1. I feel sometimes the Indians are very stubborn/lazy/stagnant/hard to reach-puts a kink in the system doesn't it?

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  42. There were two things that stuck with me from this chapter. First, the quote from the first page of Chapter 9 states " Culture is especially useful-or toxic-in blended programs because blended learning goes hand in hand with giving students more control and flexibility." I was able to think about how I view the overall culture of our high school and what we are expecting of our students. I feel with the changes we have faced with new administration this past year, the vision/direction of our corporation and teachers makes our school culture is conductive for blended learning. Many of our teachers view blended learning as an asset but there will be a few veteran teachers who resist change. We are a 1:1 school and have credit recovery options for our students so moving forward would be the next step. The other thing from the text that stuck with me is last sentence in the summary..."Shaping a culture begins one task at a time." We are often too quick to jump on each new trend/fad and forget to go through the right process to ensure we are doing the best for our students and schools. Tech it's here to stay so we must be careful to introduce changes in school cultures in a step by step process as we have been discussing here. Good luck to everyone as we are all gearing up for a new school year.

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  43. I found chapter 9 with its emphasis on how to create the "right" culture for blended learning to be more relevant for administrators than for me, a teacher whose school isn't planning on implementing blended learning at this time. I did think that the section on "How to shape culture" on pg. 254-256 does have applications for teachers looking to improve classroom culture and involve students more.

    The idea of "culture" is also broad, but I enjoyed the idea of starting each meeting with a sharing good news.

    I liked the quote on page 249 that "Blended learning accelerates a good culture and makes it great, but it will also accelerate a bad culture and make it terruble." I really think a good culture would include careful planning/anticipation of problems and how to react to them before they arise. It brings to mind the Harry and Rosemary Wong book about the first days of school and having thought through procedures for everything.

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  44. I found chapter 9 with its emphasis on how to create the "right" culture for blended learning to be more relevant for administrators than for me, a teacher whose school isn't planning on implementing blended learning at this time. I did think that the section on "How to shape culture" on pg. 254-256 does have applications for teachers looking to improve classroom culture and involve students more.

    The idea of "culture" is also broad, but I enjoyed the idea of starting each meeting with a sharing good news.

    I liked the quote on page 249 that "Blended learning accelerates a good culture and makes it great, but it will also accelerate a bad culture and make it terruble." I really think a good culture would include careful planning/anticipation of problems and how to react to them before they arise. It brings to mind the Harry and Rosemary Wong book about the first days of school and having thought through procedures for everything.

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  45. After reading this chapter, I was reflecting on the idea that culture is always learned behavior. I think that setting high expectations is key when teaching students how to gear up for success. As a primary level teacher, all I could think of while reading this chapter was how the ideas coincide with teaching procedures to young students. You must teach them the skills, make sure they are able to perform, then set goals. I think this is how people perform in their everyday lives, when tasked to do something new at work, when trying to establish a new routine or exercise regimen, or when trying to learn how to be a part of a new community. I think that the procedure must be ingrained in the target population if the new behavior and self regulation are expected to take place in an automatic way. I think that culture means so much more than procedure, obviously, but I think that without the established procedure the culture cannot take root. Culture is an accepted means of how things are done, certainly, but is also a gauge of how risk management and growth mindset are approached within the classroom setting. Without proper expectations, rewards, and consequences for procedural proficiency, the students cannot begin to explore the other aspects of a classroom community, let alone be successful in a mutually beneficial way.

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    1. Life is often mimicked in education. Or is it the other way around?

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  46. I think the school I work at would be open to a blended learning style, but it wouldn't stick unless constantly reinforced, developed, and reinforced again. LIke Zechariah said before me, "culture is always learned behavior," and just like all other learned concepts, blended learning would need to be reinforced over time. And, like all other learned concepts, it might not "click" with some teachers/staff, and would need to be reworked/not practiced at all. Overall, however, I do think the culture at my school is conducive to a blended learning environment.

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  47. This chapter on culture was one of my favorite topics! The dynamics of a classroom and schools is extremely important to the guidance of the students and the success of them in all aspects of their education. A culture where students learn consistently from knowledgeable teachers who recognize the importance of differentiation, content and process skills, group dynamics and teamwork, relationship building, and having fun and laughter in the classroom are tools to build great culture! I believe our schools has many of those elements and does have teachers who want to do what is best for kids! I think an important quote in the chapter says that Blended Learning can create a great culture but also a bad one. I think all teachers recognize this fact as we all have had failed lessons due to unclear expectations, rewards, and punishments that led to students not being as engaged and successful. I do love the idea that Blended Learning is one way to contribute to the idea that students learn to take responsibility for their learning. By creating a cultural norm where students consistently are asking to perform independent and group tasks, they will make mistakes and not work or be engaged at some point along the way. However, this is not a reason to not try to continue this important way of teaching. I think more and more, with teachers keeping students accountable, using rewards and punishments, students will eventually become responsive to the environment. Of course, the more consistent this is within the school, the better the result. This might not work if students only find this type of environment in one classroom; it depends on how that classroom is structure maybe. Students NEED to learn to work on their own with rigorous material and process skills; to try to problem solve and learn to be an independent worker as well as someone on a team. Teachers giving students all the direction and answers is not going to achieve this. We DO need to teach this generation the idea of a work ethic--and one that does not lead to just A's but leads to how to deal with challenges and to stand back up and try again! The task I am working on now is to create a routine that works well! Love the section on the "celebrations"--I had this in a charter school I worked at in North Carolina--it was called standing "O". We did these with the kids and also in our staff meetings along with "Magic Moments" and it was truly inspiring!

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    1. Sandy- I also love the "celebrations" aspect of the classroom! With my mentors, we have Care-To-Share time at the start of class where we tell about positive things that have happened in our day(s)! It's a good way to celebrate one another as well as build the team mentality of the group.

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  48. Finally--a chapter that speaks to me! The entire time I've been reading this book, I have been thinking, "What about those students who have learned helplessness, or students who either don't know how or refuse to play school?" Page 250 addresses this: "If students lack the processes and cultural norms to handle that agency, the shift toward a personalized environment can backfire." Fortunately, the book does a decent job of tackling this very real issue when it talks about shaping a culture. For the most part, I agree with their statement, "Culture is formed through repetition" (254). When students know what is expected of them, most of them comply willingly. This certainly takes care of my question about kids who don't know how to play school. So what about the kids who refuse to play school? By the time they get to me in high school, they have little buy-in and know just what to do to fade into the background or cause enough trouble to get kicked out. Of course, this solves their problem of not wanting to play school. This is where allowing students to help craft the culture is so important. The chapter emphasized a more top-down approach to culture creation, but I think it's vital to have everyone participate.

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  49. In our district, our middle school and high school would be the most prepared culturally for shift into a more structured blended learning environment. They have been 1:1 for a few years and continue to grow teacher leaders in technology. I feel the support would also be there for those teachers who do not yet feel as comfortable with blended learning as some of our newer teachers do right now. As for our elementary schools, that would be a bit more of a challenge. We continue to expand our 1:1 initiative each year by adding a grade level. This year we are adding 4th grade and hope to add 3rd next year. They all have Chromebooks and we are currently deciding what we want to do in K-2 (probably tablets of some kind). Once we are fully 1:1, I feel we would be more likely able to support a full switch to blended learning across the district. This year, we are really working to expand our use of Canvas throughout our district, with a focus on grades K-6. I feel as though we are slowly shifting our mindset to embrace more instructional technology such as blended learning. It is an encouraging path and we will be ready!

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  50. I believe that my school is almost all conducive to a blended learning environment. With that said, I think that as the students and new teachers are hired in, I believe that the environment can change. I think that the administration also has a lot to do when it comes to the environment of the school and how they react to problems that arise.

    I liked someone's comment above about the older teachers being set in their ways because they seem to be the most hesitant ones when it comes to change and technology and blended learning.

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  51. I think school culture is vitally important to learning in general not just creating a blended learning environment. When school culture is of the expectation that all students can and should learn and the appropriate procedures and processes are in place, then it happens. That being said, somethings about school culture will need to change. I think one of those is the control factor. In a traditional school setting the culture is that the teacher is in control of the learning and switching that over to students even for part of the time is a pretty intimidating idea. I think we need to scaffold the culture of student's being responsible for their own learning before we can turn them loose in a blended environment. This may also be difficult for some staff members as well. If the culture of '"sage on the stage" has always been the predominate one, then stepping back from that can be scary for some. And frankly I disagree that this would be a problem for only "older" or more experienced teachers. I think new teachers or inexperienced teachers who don't have the maturity and self-confidence tend to over rely upon their "teacher status" as in "because I said so because I'm the teacher" type of classroom management. When we ask ourselves to make a paradigm shift as a building then we all have to work together to create that cultural shift. Those who feel more confident, no matter their level of experience, will emerge as leaders to help those who are a bit hesitant. It's how all organizations work in my opinion.

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    1. Student ownership when creating goals is a very important point. This was highlighted in the chapter by the family with nine children. They taught the children how to make the bed or perform a task/chore and then the children created the goals for themselves to accomplish that task. Placing the ownership in the students hands is a shift change but it definitely could be one that would bring success!

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  52. I think this would be a very tough sell in my school culture. The community would have to have a big buy in for it to work. I just don't see how this would work at the moment. If we as a community and school system decided this would be the way to go for students to learn best I think this would be a great thing for the students. At the current time the student in my community and thus the school culture lack the willingness to do work outside of the classroom. That would hurt this from being implemented. If the community and schools backed this up with the don't do the work you will fail it would make it a tough situation for a while. I think after a couple of years the expectations would be there and blended would be making a huge success with our students. This would take a huge public relations push and supreme buy in from students, staff and parents. I just don't see this working. I do think its a great way of learning and wish it would work.

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  53. Even if we all had a common goal in sight I still see everyone (staff) going separate or different ways to go about achieving the goal...thus making the culture a harder transition.
    If this culture was harmoniously achieved I think about the other staff at my school such as the instructional assistants If the blended classroom happens what is their role?

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    1. Maybe start the transition as a department. If everyone in your department is on the same page then that at least would make it easier.

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  54. There is a focus on traditional education ideals in my school community. I like to focus on less traditional ideas on keep my instruction focused on scientifically proven methods that increase student retention and interest. Doing a complete blended model might meet with opposition until explained logistically, which I expect. For the students, using the blended method focuses more on individual learning and improving oneself to meet/exceed current standards.

    Currently, I am finding I have no time to go over remedial material in order to encourage students to achieve the levels they need to be. Doing a blended model would help me better be able to serve my population of students successfully. Implementing this in my classroom will take a lot of thought and planning. I am prepared for this and have several ideas that need to be fully unraveled in my brain.

    I also need to decide which is best for large group, small group, and individual instruction. I think there will be more large group learning and activities in the beginning of the year. As the year goes on, the students will have more autonomy to complete tasks on their own. My only issue with doing this is that students do not stay on task when given time to do independent work in class. I need to develop a strategy to eliminate this thought process.

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  55. I believe school/life is forever a process of creating the right culture. Even from class to class or student to student the process can change. Blended learning fits well into that thought.

    Some of the school year's adventures are bigger culture creations than others with a hope for success. No one really knows until you try. With the guided SMART steps, the process has a more direct path for success.

    Creating and implementing that learning culture is our job. But it doesn't all have to happen in one day. The process is continual just as life.

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  56. I do believe our school culture is conducive to a blended learning environment. We have a great staff that puts an enormous amount of time and energy into doing what's best for our school and for our kids. I think the culture is very positive among the teachers and the students. Already, we offer a very wide range of course offerings for kids. And, many kids choose to take some of their cousework online--including credit recovery. We have a special senior schedule for kids who choose to take on more advanced placement coursework. The senior schedule gives these kids a lot of flexibility in their day, and they have more of a college schedule with a open campus. The students can come and go, based on when they're classes are scheduled.
    I was trying to think of areas where the culture could be improved...1. the attitudes of second semester seniors. Many of these kids don't care about their grades during this last semester, and their focus is primarily on graduation and after. How can we change this?
    2. Attendance. We have a lot of kids with serious attendance problems. And, it's a frustration that many teachers have because they can't do anything about it. How could a change in school culture fix our attendance issues?
    In the chapter, I liked the idea of celebrating group members accomplishments, successes. I thought it was a great way to get group members talking, and a great tool to use to start the meeting with positive thoughts.

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  57. Ironically our Letter D rating as a school a few years ago changed our culture. We had to delve deep into what we do and how we do it to improve our score and become a better place for students to learn. Our administration was stellar in leading the way. Since then, our principal has moved on and his successors have picked up where he left off. Last school year we were more intentional about developing our culture and implemented several new procedures to enhance our culture. We posted expectations for every aspect of a student's day, shared and modeled the expectations, and rewarded the students who followed them most closely! We intentionally taught the possible rewards and consequences for following/not following said expectations in an advisory class and allowed opportunity for discussion and input from the students. The culture in our building fits into Edgar Schein's definition of organizational culture perfectly! Our school is not moving into a blended learning system entirely. We are using blended learning for my students in the Alternative Program. These students have been removed from the traditional schedule in order to help lessen gaps academically, socially, and behaviorally. The program has operated on an "incentive" plan to eventually help the student work their way back to the traditional schedule. Up to this point, it has been my responsibility to teach the four content areas at the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade level as well as students who were well below grade level. The blended learning plan will alleviate that awesome responsibility and allow me to work with students in small groups to enhance what they are learning on-line and assist with areas in which they are struggling. The culture we have cultivated the past 4 years will make this transition so much easier. I feel very blessed to work in such a GREAT SCHOOL!!!!

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  58. I am very glad that the chapter highlighted the aspect of celebration/ connection reflection. Meetings are often dreaded, but giving teachers a chance to celebrate the positive happenings in their classroom and/or personal life would be a great way to change morale. I teach in both elementary schools in my district and the administrators in each building have decided to basically do away with meetings. I understand that they are trying to give that time back to teachers but I do see them as necessary on occasion (especially so communication doesn't break down). Moments at the beginning of the meetings to celebrate productivity is a great way to help ease the "pain" of meetings. I believe this would certainly help shift the culture in my buildings as I feel that many of my co-workers feel unappreciated or supported. This is not a good place to start when trying to create a new blended learning environment. As the book stated, "leaders shape the culture of their organization." It starts from the top down. If administrators create this shift in culture at school-wide meetings then it will shift down to grade level meetings etc...

    The chapter also highlighted consistency as an important aspect of shifting culture. Creating a new culture and doing it with fidelity is very important to make change happen.

    I enjoyed reading about the schools that have created a successful culture. Those schools that set forth early on what is expected of students when they enter the classroom space seem to be the most successful. Just like teachers that create routine. You always know teachers that establish a strong classroom routine by how students walk in the room the beginning of every class. Now of course successful teachers and classrooms also are flexible ones, that is a given.

    In summary, the chapter stressed how following a set culture frequently would help make it more successful. It simply isn't good enough to try something out, it has to have time and repetition to work. It is also important to start out small. Begin by changing one task at a time. This chapter was my favorite one to read out of all of them so far!!

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  59. I have no doubt that the teachers at my school are doing what they think is best for kids. However, the world in which we live is changing and education must also change to keep up. This change is not happening in most of the classrooms in my school. Teachers will tell you that they are "preparing kids for college". Students are sitting in neat rows and silently taking notes. At some point, these teachers will have to come to understand that we are no longer the sole provider of information. Their instruction must change.

    Although our culture is not quite there, I am excited that there are several teachers who are ready and willing to make the move toward blended learning. They are having successes implementing technology in meaningful ways. I have no doubt that the rest of the school will eventually catch up. And until it does, we will continue to push towards better practices, one teacher at a time.

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  60. The chapter began with "have you ever walked into a school and you just knew..." and the answer is yes! I recently started working in a school in NWACS and I could feel the welcoming, caring culture from the minute I walked in. I could tell the focus was not on just testing, testing, testing from the first new teacher meeting. I could feel the family camaraderie after having my first meeting with my 4th grade team. That being said, there are several different cultures within a school. The culture toward blended learning is just beginning in my school and district. I agree with many of the above comments that it needs to be backed by the administration and principal for everyone to feel comfortable and be able to make changes. I am one of "those veteran teachers" (24 years!), but I still can learn new ways to help my students to learn in the best way possible! One struggle for me I know will be students engaged in different modalities and working at a variety of skills. It will be up to me to come up with clear norms and expectations.

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  61. Our school culture is something that needs to be refreshed and remedied regardless of any learning implementation we would adopt. Unfortunately, there is a negative undertone to our school that permeates through both the students and staff, and regarding certain issues, the two groups' miseries feed off each other and make the issues worse. That being said, this chapter made me doubt and reaffirmed my fears that my school may not be ready for blended learning. It would probably take years for the parents, community, and some staff members to embrace this new way of doing things, regardless of the positive impact it can have on our kids. As the new year quickly approaches, my personal goal is to try to incorporate at least a few aspects of blended learning into my own classroom, especially into some of my more advanced classes, with the hope that I get a positive response. I will then have to decide what I do with the positive response - whether I just continue to develop it further in my own classroom or if the rest of my school gets on board - only something time can tell. I worry about my school's ability to work together as a team, especially concerning new topics or changes, and I worry about how we face adversity. As with any new concept, blended learning is bound to cause some adversity. Possibly after more research surfaces in support of blended learning and technology implementation, my school will consider it as a true option to the traditional classroom. In the meantime, and with the hope of us actually going 1-1, I will try these techniques in my own room .

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  62. My school seeems to struggle with any change. I'm not sure how to change that culture. I am trying to learn Google Classroom and hope to use it with my Casey teaching class this year.

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    1. I would start with something small and do it every day until students will wonder what is going on if one day it doesn't happen. We had a principal that stood in the hallway every morning and greeted the students, faculty, and staff. If he was missing everyone noticed. It even became a thing for students to seek him out to shake his hand. He remembered everyone's name. When he retired that was something students and staff commented on the most. We felt welcome and wanted every day. It is a great way to start your morning.

      What is something simple we all can do to shift the culture of our schools or classrooms?

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  63. This is a timely topic for our school district at the elementary level for students are getting Chromebooks in a few weeks. Unfortunately, we probably should have already had a team in place to begin troubleshooting possible problems and creating procedures to begin shaping our culture.

    I believe our school has a culture in place that will embrace the changes that are ahead. We are very fortunate to have a principal that allows and encourages creativity and change always with an eye to how best to serve our students.

    I'm not sure it is what's best, but I think that this first year most of the "culture" adjustments will be done at each individual grade level. If we were going to adjust culture as a school we probably should have already been working on that. I would be interested in having people who already are 1 to 1 to share insights of successes and hints to solve future problems ahead.

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  64. Culture is a big thing for me. Last year, I switched schools and from high school to middle school. BIG cultural change. Figuring out how to teach and learning styles of students in my new environment was very time consuming. There was not a lot of communication within our language arts department, and I discovered that I was in a new culture with a lot of different teaching styles. Our school needs a lot of PD time to get the teachers on the same page. Yes, there are the veteran teachers (me being one) that are willing to improve our teaching strategies, but it is overwhelming without communication, pd, and leadership for goals and points of emphasis. This chapter helped by letting me know it's ok to attack one thing at a time. My school is very old fashioned, and students and parents are dead set on not having too much work outside of school whether it's on paper or online. Blended learning in the work outside of school area would be a huge cultural challenge. To change the community's mind would have to be a slow process. The culture of or faculty and staff will have to be addressed through pd and meeting often so we can all be on the same page before we apply it to students. As a veteran teacher, I am all for improving my teaching methods to benefit today's learning styles, but my school will have to tread softly. Baby steps, for sure.

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  65. First of all, it is not always the "older" teachers that are stuck and refuse to change. I hear this a lot lately. Being a teacher with 30 years experience, I take offense. I am Always looking for new and exciting teaching skills and lessons.

    Besides this, I feel my school is NOT ready for a change. It is more like everyone wants it their way or no way, including admin. I really liked the comments that we need to take it one step at a time in establishing culture. Having committees to establish the rules, trying them, and revising them sounds like we can get more buy-in. One problem I see is we need parent involvement or it will never work. In our school, being in Indiana, parents think they can say what their child will or will not do in school. The more people involved in making rules or plans the less gets accomplished.

    I hope someday we can all see our children working on what they need at their pace to meet success.

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    1. Thank you for saying this Jeanne! Although I only have 15 years of experience in my years as a educator I learn the most from the teachers who are more seasoned than me. I agree that it is not only the "older" teachers who refuse the change. In fact sometimes it can be quite the opposite! :)

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  66. My building is at a turning point. I'm entering year three as administrator. I think of the forming, storming, norming, performing theory as I look at this year. We've definitely been through the storm and are coming out on the other end. There are a wide variety of cultural practices in place that have the potential to spur our goals of blended learning forward. There are still some aspects that need improvement and we have identified those and the teams to work through the issues. I loved the suggestion about identifying the team to solve the problem and if their solution doesn't work to have that same team keep trying until they get it right. I also think that as a Montessori program that emphasizes an individuals path to grow and student ownership of learning we are in the right frame of mind to move this work forward on some level even with young students. The technology doesn't have to be scary or overwhelming...which right now it feels like one more thing due to lack of resources (human capital) but we'll figure that out.

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  67. I can relate to culture in this book. Our school has a deeply-rooted culture. Many students have grandparents that went to our school. For the most part, I feel our culture is nuturing, but change would still need to be slow. To change the culture in our school, we would really have to be deliberate in our communication. I think the key points mentioned in this chapter are vital to "shape a culture". I love the example given from Oliver Sicat--if every learning institution could create a culture of high expectations without excuses, I believe the education field (students and teachers) would see dramatic improvements in achievment. I also believe that teacher training in blended learning would be vital to the success of changing the culture.

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    1. Amanda, I completely agree with you. I can see how it might be difficult for your school to make a change such as this. I can imagine that the stakeholders in your corporation love and appreciate the traditions that exist at your school. With that being said, I can also see how they would fear something they've never seen work before. As a teacher, I often have trouble with the same thing. I often struggle to make something work if I haven't seen it in action before. This is why training would be imperative!

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  68. I have a culture that is rooted in excellence, tradition, and relationships. Although we don't have blended learning throughout our halls, we have a focus on utilizing 1:1 technology, building relationships with our students, and developing independent thinking students who are ready for the real world. I have found support from my tech team already in working towards a blended learning environment both in teaching me technology possibilities and encouraging me to be a risk-taker. Wow, this is vital to have support in such a unique, exciting and challenging endeavor. I believe my administration will fully support my willingness to try this, and my department will be supportive as long as my students continue to see excellence in common assessment performance. I will not expect everyone I work with to get on board with this level of technology and difference in teaching roles, yet I know I can make this happen and am confident! I also know this will be uncomfortable for families, so I will work slowly but surely to help families get used to this new way of learning.

    In order to monitor all of the hard work, I decided I am going to make students responsible for showcasing their knowledge in semester portfolios composed of semester materials from an online notebook. Students will show mastery on units of material, enduring skills, personal goal setting/mastery, and real world connections.

    I know that flipping and using blended learning will allow my students to learn basics, and extend knowledge with interesting and unique opportunities in the classroom! I can't wait to see my students' levels of independence and responsibility grow! I also think I will see their interest grow significantly!

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  69. I think that perhaps the author could have come up with a much better word than culture to describe this chapter. That said, I think that my students have already worked in such a way that moving to more student motivated, blended learning should not be an issue. Most classes in our building teach more than one grade level and the students are very aware of what they should be doing when not directly monitored by a teacher. They have also learned (some the hard way) that using time wisely means much less work at home.

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    1. I am curious as to what other word you would use. Expectations? Systems?

      For me the word culture is extremely appropriate because it is based on the beliefs and behaviors of a group of people in a specific environment.

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  70. I do not believe that our school is ready, or ever will be ready, for blended learning. We have a lot of young teachers, but we also have several older teachers. Not all of our teachers are on the same page and are willing to do this. I do not believe that age has anything to do with this either. Some of our veteran teachers are the ones that are eager to try new things in the classroom and are encouraging the younger, hesitate teachers.

    I also think that many of our students are being raised by grandparents. Too much technology tends to make them nervous. Adding a new component to the classroom each year would make the transition easier for educators, students, and caregivers. Our goal is to make sure the students are successful in our room and after they leave our rooms.

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  71. I really enjoyed this chapter. Our elementary school has been through several principals in the last few years and yet we are still strong! I believe we have a great culture and it is the staff that makes it that way. We have and continue to make relationships with our families. Our current principal is very good and making sure we continue to look at what is best for our school, our kid and our families, not necessarily what is best for every school, but suits ours.
    Our staff has always followed the solve a problem with brainstorm the chapter spoke about and then continuing with a strategy that works. Or if something hasn't worked brainstorming to work to make it better. As new data arises our current principal asks about how we can duplicate something, how can we continue with that success. We have a nice balance with 2 coaches and a principal who values what the teachers and staff believe.
    I thought this chapter was reassuring in a crazy way. I had never thought of all the great things that we do and the fact that all those little pieces make our culture.
    Blended learning then in our building is going well. There is training and those that need it can get it. There is also teachers that are going to "push in" this year to help us work towards using our devices and making sure that we are offering more skills to them, not just trading paper for a device. That we are offering the levels of thinking that technology allows.
    It is very much a journey we are on and we are doing it for our students!

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  72. In past posts I mentioned the importance of teaching these new concepts to children in expecting them to understand and successfully utilize the technology of blended learning. This chapter really emphasized my beliefs of expectations. In order for our curriculum to work, regardless of the approach, we must never assume children understand our expectations. In kindergarten we, together as a class, write expectations for general procedures, the drinking fountain, the bathroom, among bigger parts of day like Writer’s Workshop. We need to explicitly demonstrate and repeat these expectations and then give autonomy. We must essentially MODEL and BREATHE what we desire to CREATE success.
    In no way do I believe our school needs a shift to accommodate this type of culture. I feel blessed to be a part of a community that believes their children are capable and ready. If anything, this chapter is a reminder to continue to be explicit with expectations, repeat, share, give autonomy, and watch children soar. Once again, I believe this can take place regardless of the curriculum or “learning” we bring into inception.

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  73. A wise prognosticator (or unhinged political hack, you decide) once said “A fish stinks from the head down.” This well describes how the culture of an organization (be it a school, corporation or executive branch) is often shaped. Namely, the people in charge have the ability and need to form the culture into one that is able to get their job done. A thoughtful, flexible, and creative head of the organization will empower its members to try new things, let them make and fix mistakes and encourage processes that do work. If the head of your organization does not instill these ideas, then it is your duty to do it yourself or encourage the regime to change. Coups d’etat are all the rage nowadays.

    About the only thing I think that would limit the introduction of a blended learning environment in my school is the willingness to try something different. As I get older and more of a seasoned teacher, I am getting more stuck in my ways. You can get good at being a teacher through repetition, but sometimes that just becomes you in a rut as well. Some version of blended learning can be implemented by any teacher, if they are willing to take a risk and put some effort into it.

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  74. After one year of 1:1 Chromevooks in our building, we have some teachers already embracing a blended learning environment. Station rotation and flipped classrooms are being integrated. The teachers' enthusiasm is contagious and our culture is slowly changing.

    However, there are also conversations with frustrated teachers (students are playing games at the wrong times, picking keys off cb, etc). They are issues that have nothing to do with what they are doing in the classroom, but the tool they are using. I have responded to these frustrations that we need to convey our expectations, it is a "culture". If we don't establish expectations for the classroom, the culture is chaos.

    In general, our school culture is positive and with "small steps" towards blended learning, we will shift our culture to enhance our students' abilities with communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity

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  75. I agree with the author and what many other posts have said about how the school leadership impacts the school culture. I have worked for a handful of different principals and I can honestly say that someone who is positive, calm, and interested in collaboration will make the school culture successful. I, too, have had principals who either used fear or chaos to rule and the school culture suffered immensely and it was so hard to get out of that.

    “Culture is formed through repetition” is so true! And it is not immediate-it takes time to establish the rules, practice, and then it becomes habit/norm. As I am reflecting now, maybe before school starts, teachers need a refresher course on the “culture” of the school building. As a newer teacher in my building, I know there are different rules and norms than in the previous building, but I pretty much had to figure them out as I went. I think, from year to year, we inadvertently do that with our students, too, and we assume that they should know what the rules/norms/expectations are. But maybe they either don't or just forgot. It’s so much easier to start out with too much information than to try to fix the problems later.

    I think since my school is 1:1, it has great potential for blended learning. I totally agree with some previous posts that the main problem will be with starting with the right expectations for the classroom (I foresee issues of students being off-task, playing games, destroying materials,etc. if the expectations aren't clear and enforced). I agree with showing the students “how” first, making our classroom or school goals known, and then letting them help set goals (with our guidance). It's all about how you start that helps determine how you finish.

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more! Expectations have to be in place for blended learning. Teachers modeling what they expect and teaching them to make great choices is key!

      I love the idea of teachers meeting at the beginning of the year to reestablish culture!

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  76. After reading this chapter and then reading some of the responses, I find myself torn on responding. Part of me will be very positive in responding and part will be negative.

    Culture, who decides what is a good culture for the school and what the culture will be. As a former principal, I believe that the principal is the one that is ultimately responsible for everything that is going on in their school. We have a new principal this year and even before the school year starts, I am seeing change. I think that most of the change will be for the better and will create a very positive culture in the building (which will be a change from last year). There have been several changes in personnel and in the teaming process we use. I believe that the new principal will be a positive change.

    I spoke of several personnel changes. With all the changes that will be taking place, these changes might have been for the best. As a former principal I know that when you have teachers that do not support what is being proposed or done, they can really put problems in play that the principal did not think of.

    For me, I am looking forward to working in a blended classroom. The high school is going 1:1 this year and it is being proposed that the middle school will go to the 1:1 next year. I believe that this will be a big change for all (admin, staff, and students). I have had experience in teaching on-line and I can see already how I can change what I am doing.

    In dealing with the culture, I hope that the admin realizes that the staff is going to need extensive training and will be ready to provide that training. The training will help establish a positive culture in the building.

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  77. This chapter makes sense to me. I can now see blended learning working in my school after the culture has been developed. Several points were made that I agree are needed to build the culture. Defining one problem at a time helps eliminate chaos. Setting up a team and giving them permission to get it wrong without disbanding or changing members of the group. This really appealed to me. So often, we change the team if they do not succeed the first time. Once a solution works, practice it until it becomes second nature. The school culture will drive blended learning in a positive or negative direction.
    My school needs to develop the right culture before implementing blended learning. Culture, to me, is the same as rules. Once teachers and students buy-in everything else becomes easier. I have worked at several schools in my district. One school had teachers present in the hallways before students passed (on the right side only). Another school asked all teachers to escort their students from the cafeteria (following breakfast) to the classroom. The methods were different, however, both schools' culture worked. Teachers and students saw the processes as a normal routine.

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  78. I love the opening line to this chapter, "Have you ever walked into a school that on paper sounded amazing, but in practice just seemed off?" This exact thing happened with me. I had just taught at the most amazing school that worked hard to teach teachers how to teacher...and students how to learn. This school was 96% free and reduced lunch but we were so innovative! I thought every school was like this until I moved across the country. I applied and was interviewed at a 4 star school. This school had lots of money and their test scores were amazing. But...that is where it stopped. It was not what I had expected! The culture of the school was "off" I have never worked at a place that truly taught to the test...even at the first grade level. First graders were filling out scan-tron sheets! With that...I left and learned that any school can look great on paper...but it is what is going on side that makes it great!

    I love how part how Richrd and Linda Eyre explained the power of teaching what needs to be done. At the first grade level...I did this with every step to show expectations. For example...my reading/library area. I taught them how to pick books, how to use them, to care for them, and to put them back where they go. This was a process...it took over a week. We modeled, acted it out, and created charts to hang there. Had I not done this my reading area would have been a disaster. As a teacher I have learned the value of taking the time to show expectations and teach the kiddos "How to do things" It all took time and repetition.
    On page 259...I agreed with the line getting students to take ownership of their learning. I think in any environment that is key! You can't make a student learn...but you can help them want to learn and give them the skills to do it successfully!
    I don't think that our school could be a full blended learning environment. I teach at a preschool with 3 year olds. I think that we could set the stage with it and connect school and home using many of the tools

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    1. Mrs. Laura,
      I teach in the high school and I too take time to teach them "How to do things" I repeat it the first couple of weeks then the students tend to monitor each other. I have noticed that it helps put them at ease if they know the expectations and the procedures.
      The end of your paragraph about page 259 reminded me of a phrase I use more often than I sometimes realize. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't shove his head in it." I love it when students are thirsty for knowledge. Sometimes they come that way, but giving them ownership and options helps wet the appetites of the rest.

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    2. On p.259 the author says, ..." if teachers invest in creating a strong culture up front, with clear norms and expectations, then the culture in fact will be quite structured…” I too do this with my HS students, Laura, often following Harry Wong’s advice from his book The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher. In contrast to this is what teachers do at the beginning of the year in Finland. Students ease into the school year at a slower pace often starting with a half day and then participating in games, and discussions about summer vacation instead of passing out textbooks and assignment homework. The mindset in Finland from what I have read is the desire to create more of a homey feeling for students before the work sets in. This homey environment makes me think of the video clip of the USC Hybrid HS that is discussed on p. 256 where the students are shown learning in an environment that resembles a college library or Starbucks. Also, the author observed a couple of students at Carpe Diem’s blended learning school putting their heads down on their desks… We all need a break sometimes and the mindset at Carpe Diem seems to be that it is OK for students to do this and helps them … “develop their own culture of success.”

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  79. In some ways, I believe that my school is conducive to blended learning. Teachers are doing what they think is best for the students. Is that really way they are stuck in their ways? Or is it because it’s easy and that’s how it was when they were in school or how they’ve been teaching for years. I think that some of the staff here have made great strides with even incorporating technology. Going as far to say that they are ready for flipping/blended learning, I don’t know. As my school prepares for our 1:1 roll out on Monday, I hope that our teachers are ready for it. My hope for my math classes is that students are using the technology that we have to help guide their learning. My fear is that I won’t have enough GOOD SOLID resources for them to use. I have been researching and researching blended learning in math classrooms. I haven’t found one that is truly using technology to its full potential.

    But no matter what we are doing in our classroom and in our school, we need to keep the students first. Is what we are doing really the best thing for them? Are they going to be prepared to go out into a world that is vastly different from the walls of their high school?

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  80. As I was reading this chapter, I kept thinking of the phrase, "It sounds great in theory, but looks awful in practice." Over the years I have found many text book educational ideas to sound so cool that I couldn't wait to try them. But as soon as they were implemented, I quickly realized that they were not going to work for me. Horn and Stalker said to shape culture one task at a time. It is always trial and error. If something works, great! If not, why not? Perhaps something just needs to be slightly tweaked. Just as our students learn, so do we. I'm excited to grow even more this year as I try new ideas to improve my teaching.

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  81. I believe the culture of our school has been continuously changing over the past few years. This has been both good and bad. Sometimes our changes in procedures allowed students to "work the system" and do very little until the end of the term. Other changes have removed the opportunity or ability for students to take advantage of certain policies. The last thing I want is to become stagnant but each year we need to be consistent until the school year is ended. Does that make sense? The administrators come up with a new policy and we must ALL enforce it the same way until the end of the year or All stop enforcing it at the same time if it does not work. We can still grow and change but everyone has to be on board.
    As I read this chapter I thought about the discussion that when a systems processes and priorities become reflex to those in the system you have developed a culture. Those within the system become self managing. This is the dream. The family who told us to first teach the children HOW to do something, then let THEM set their goals was creating the self-managing process. They showed them the expectation of performance and challenged the kids to determine how often they would/could do it. My family is very competitive so this totally worked on us as kids.
    The final thing I wanted to share of my thoughts as I read this chapter is the idea of classroom vs. school culture. As teachers we all have our way of doing things. At the beginning of the school year we tell students when they should be ready for class, what constitutes as being ready, how to lay out papers, how to turn things in, how to behave during discussions, etc. In teaching and re-teaching those we are developing a classroom culture in addition to the existing school culture. Some students complain that I am very particular on how I do things. But in return, they realize that my procedural requirements often award them with a lot of freedom during their work time. People passing my room have no idea what is going on. They see students working one moment then handing me a clip board and walking out the door the next. I know what is going on, and so do my students. That is what matters.
    In a huge school it is sometimes difficult to get 5000+ people on the same page. Too many rules and differences in values can cause confusion and a bit of friction. As long as we all have the same major goals and requirements in common (Academic excellence, safety, and a joy of learning) the rest of it will work out.

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  82. I think that my school would have a hard time going to a blended learning environment. A lot of teachers don’t like change because it creates a lot of work. Our high school is a traditional public high school in every aspect. I also think that even if you had a lot of school members on board with it, that doesn’t change society and what society believes school should operate like. I said in a previous post that society would have to change greatly in order for it to work. American society isn’t the most supportive of education, so totally changing the game would be hard to get parents on board, in my opinion. I think you would have to start small and do a pilot group or pilot school and then see the reaction and outcome from that before having our whole corporation adopt blended learning.

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    1. I agree with your comments that change is difficult especially in a traditional school setting. How often do teachers teach how they were taught? We've always done "it" this way why change now. Starting slowly with a pilot program will provide the data to support the decision to move forward with blended learning or decide blended learning is not for our schools.

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  83. As a parent, I have felt the different cultures of elementary schools my children have attended. It starts from the the top if the principal shows they value the teachers then that drifts down. I hope the use of technology doesn't diminish the high value I place on teachers.

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  84. A positive school culture is vital to student success, there is no question about that. However, many staff members think of culture as "fluff" or just another item on their already filled plates. My question is how to encourage school staffs to understand the importance of positive school culture and meaningfully work towards that without feeling like a dictator? Any suggestions for helping people understand that culture is more than a buzz word?

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    1. I completely agree and support this statement. The school culture must be positive and supportive for students to thrive and succeed. However, it seems that every year...teachers are asked to do more and more....and them some more after that.
      My school district is a very high achieving and successful district with above average performance and scores.
      Our teachers do work very hard and hopefully administrators can recognize that what we as educators are doing is working...so nothing needs fixed. I feel that sometimes districts feel like they "have to" mandate new strategies. However, if it's not broke, it doesn't need fixed.

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  85. I don't think our school is ready to implement blended learning right now, but will be in a few years. As we go 1:1 this year, I think our main focus will be on implementing more technology into our lessons, getting comfortable with how to use ChromeBooks and Google apps, and finding more educational websites and resources. Once we achieve this, maybe our district will consider blended learning. Lots of teachers have varying comfort levels with technology in our building, and I know we will work together to learn from each other.

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  86. Our school is implementing blended learning this year. I believe we are ready for the challenge that this is going to bring to our school. We have 1:1 this year in technology, we have subscribed to i-ready, and we have had several professional developments on blended learning and i-ready. I am so excited to teach to every child individually and I think everyone in our building is too! We are up for this challenge to better our students and I think we are going to have some challenges along the way but we are committed to working together and learning from each other to make this happen.

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  87. The opening sentence of this chapter, “Have you ever walked into a school that on paper sounded amazing, but in practice just seemed ‘off’”? spoke to me. As an itinerant teacher when I walk into a building I often see children roaming the halls, leaving class before the bell, not following dress code rules, and on and on. I question whether this type of culture is conducive to learning let alone how blended learning would change this culture.
    I would like to develop a positive culture in my classroom. “The power of culture is that as member of an organization reach a shared paradigm about how to work together to be successful, ultimately they don’t have to stop to ask each other what to do.” (page 251) The school culture comes from the top down. I have worked with a number of principals. They all strive to develop “a way of working together toward common goals. . .” (page 250), but I can say I’ve worked in a building that fits that definition. I can control the culture in my classroom.
    For a large corporation blended learning would have to begin small. For example, a pilot program in one school. Teachers would have to volunteer. I was in a workshop today with teachers struggling to copy a URL into the correct place. Many teachers are still learning basic computer skills. To ask them to make a change to blended learning would be unfair to them and their students.

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  88. This is a loaded question for me. My school/staff are finally starting to get on board with new technology and supplying us with as much as they can and as many trainings as possible. But with that being said, we only have six iPads per elementary classroom. In order for blended learning to truly work, we would need a few things: more iPads, training, and most importantly parent support. Our free and reduced lunch number keeps rising each year and with that often comes rough home lives. This makes it very difficult to be successful in the classroom. I’m not saying it can’t work ever. There would just need to be some major cultural shifts for it to work properly.

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  89. “You know culture when you feel it.” This statement explains the way I felt sitting in the office waiting to interview for my first teaching job at a public high school here in Indianapolis. As I sat waiting for my interview, the bell for a passing period rang. Students began milling around the hallways to get to their next class as music from the school radio station broadcasted over the loudspeaker. You could see students walking to the beat of the music and some even mouthing the words to familiar songs as they walked to their classes. Sitting there, I knew if I were offered the job, it would be a place I would want to work because I felt its culture.
    While I am not teaching in a public school currently, I do feel that this particular school would be somewhat conducive to blended learning. The principal of the school has created a culture where teachers are free to try new methods of teaching in their classrooms. He and many of the leaders are open to change. I think the Flipped Classroom and Station Rotation models would be good blended learning models to begin with in some subject areas.

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  90. Since we will be at the starting point of creating our blended learning culture this year I am positive there will be problems that arise that we will need to solve and create a culture for those issues. I believe our secondary schools have already experienced the blended learning platform though so I'm sure those teachers along with our administration team will have some good input. I would also note that we have AMAZING teachers who are willing to put in the work and time to create a better culture suited for blended learning! I think we have a good frame work for addressing issues as they arise that will serve us well as we embark on this journey.

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  91. I believe that the culture in my school, promoted by our principal, is conducive to Blended Learning. While we are expected to teach the same curriculum, we are not expected to teach the same lesson in the same way as our peers in the subject. Just today I met with another ELA teacher to set our first few months' curriculum. I explained to her my new ideas for implementing some Station Rotation Blended Learning, and she was fine with that. Actually she asked me lots of questions and may end up using some of my ideas for rotations in grammar and a flipped idea for the vocabulary program we already use.

    I think the biggest challenge for me in the area of culture will be convincing students that they have some say-so in their education. By 7th grade they have been drilled for so long in following directions and staying "with the group" that it may take a while for them to realize "the sky's the limit" in some of our classroom topics. Hopefully, I'm on my toes enough to stay a step ahead of them! We'll see.

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  92. I think we have a strong, positive culture in my school. Our staff works together as a team to help create a positive and nurturing environment for our students to learn in. In addition to having students who want to come to school, we have parents who are supportive of what we do, and our test scores are typically pretty high. While I do think that we have the ability to develop teams to solve problems and have staff buy-in to those solutions, I still think we would face some challenges if we attempted to institute blended learning (as I’m sure all schools would). I think one of the biggest shifts we would need to make would be in changing the way we think about teaching and grading. In conjunction with that idea, I really liked the way Carpe Diem encouraged students to develop their own culture of success. In my MindUp training today, we watched a TedTalk about reframing how we think of happiness. I think in conjunction with that, we also need to reframe our thoughts about the connection between success and happiness. I think if we focused on that, it would be a great place for my school to start.

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    1. Courtney, great minds think alike. I was also thinking about our school culture in relationship to MindUp and how success follows happiness. I do think we strive for teaching the whole child and try to create a culture that values the process and effort put forth. I also agree that our school's culture will have to blend with the entire district's culture for all stakeholders. The dilemma of issuing grades and preparing for the ISTEP would for sure be a roadblock to deal with along the way.

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  93. I like the opening statement about a school looking great on paper but something is off. I had the opportunity to open a brand new elementary school; where half of the staff was pulled from one elementary school and then the principal was able to fill the rest of the positions. I was one of the positions that he got to fill and it was interesting seeing how he/and we created our "culture" so to speak.Over the course of four years with him we grew from 4 to five teachers on each grade level to anywhere from 9 to 6 on each grade level. We had several meetings through the summer, we had training and discussions about things that were new in education. We had created a culture where most things went swimmingly. We even scored second in the corporation... right behind the gifted and talented magnet. We got a new principal after four years and things changed quickly... test scores dropped, teachers retired early, many put in for a transfer, left the county or the field of education for other jobs. So, yes culture plays a huge roll and it is created from the top down.

    I think any school can handle change with the right leader and mind set. That being said, the school that I worked in would have had a hard time creating a culture where blended learning would have been successful, because of its leader.

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    1. Your example is sad but true. It reminds me of the chapter about teacher motivation. Culture definitely starts at the top. I am fortunate to work in a building with an amazing principal who started as a fantastic teacher, then was a remarkable counselor. Experiencing each level for several years, and enjoying the work, has made my principal supportive, caring, innovative, and understanding. I could not ask for better, and when the thought of changing schools arises, it makes me sad to wonder if any other building has the leadership and therefore the culture that ours has.

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    2. Administration that inspires and develops a culture of unity and inspiration is a beautiful thing. My mentor and former admin from Henderson, Kentucky displayed this in a beautiful way. We would do anything for our students and he would do anything for us!

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    3. Good administrators that provide guidance and support are the key to shape culture in a school. I have had a few that stayed mainly in their office and really didn't know what was going on in the classrooms/school and I have had the opposite type that are in classrooms and the hallways interacting with the students and staff as much as possible. The second type of administrator is what every school deserves to have.

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  94. With last year being my first year at a new school, I think that the culture question is a hard one to jump into even after reading the chapter. It was clear to me from day one that there was a established culture at my new school and for the most part the things that were stressed helped to make my job easier as a teacher. Many of the cultural elements that I noticed right off the bat were small things that made a big difference like being to class on time, turning in your homework, keeping the school clean, and not having your phone out during school. But I also noticed with the intro of the 1 to 1 that new cultural elements needed to be added and taught to the kids. Our tech department did a great job rolling our Digital lessons that we went through with the kids during homeroom to help create that culture. Other things in my classroom needed to change though like students who would just start working when the bell rang and not wait for instructions. Or the introduction of the Google drive where students could share documents and sometimes that sort of thing lead to what I thought was cheating, but to which my students did not. Or the idea that ISS is now a place where you don't have to make up your work, but you can sleep and watch movies all day. Those types of things need a culture change.
    Do I think Blended learning can work in my school- yes I do. However, I think some cultural changes are needed before that happens. I like the idea of the flipped classroom, but year after year we fight more of a battle or our students not doing anything outside of the school day. My last school even toyed with the idea of banning homework and making it so that all work was done in the school day. I think for something like a flipped class to work, there has to be a culture change where students see the value for them in watching the video or lecture and coming to class prepared for the activity. The culture change needs to be able to show them that in the long run this blended learning approach with help them not only learn the material, but also save them time and energy in the long run. Once that type of culture change happens, I think something like a flipped class would work.

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  95. I feel like my school has a pretty great culture. We have various committees that are responsible for various issues and these committees are open to suggestions, questions, and concerns. Just this last school year, my team saw an issue with the way students were entering the school after recess. They had become too loud and the restroom routine was taking too long. Upon having this discussion, we realized that some of us teachers weren't very satisfied with the way students were entering the lunchroom, nor were we crazy about the behaviors we saw during lunch so together we laid out our expectations and created some rules for the students to follow. We immediately set out teaching the students our expectations and even gave them time to practice the new procedures. Because we were able to discuss our issues and come up with ways to solve our problems the rest of the year went extremely well and I truly believe the students liked knowing what was expected of them in those two scenarios and they liked having the structure in these non-classroom settings. Because we were able to tackle this mid-year, I believe our team of teachers can do anything if it is what we feel is best for our school culture and best for our students.

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  96. I loved this chapter. I believe creating a positive culture is key to a successful school(or business). I believe that a positive school culture is shaped by a good leader(principal) as stated on page 254. This is essential. I like how this chapter gave very simple steps in creating a positive culture. Define the problem, appoint group to figure out how to solve the problem, and ask the same team to solve the problem every time it occurs. Good culture is formed through repetition, but so is bad culture. I also like what Oliver Sicat said about culture on page 256, "I am talking about holding students to high expectations for behavior and having rewards and consequences for every positive and negative behavior we don't tolerate, without excuses." This statement addresses the concerns I have about the culture my school. I believe our culture could be improved greatly with higher expectations and consequences for behaviors that should not be tolerated. I worry about blended classrooms being successful without appropriate expectations and consequences for poor behavior.

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    1. A POSITIVE CULTURE IS ESSENTIAL i AGREE.

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  97. I have been trying to mix up the format of my blog entries over the past few weeks, so I am going to list a mish mash of my own annotation comments for this chapter.

    • Although this chapter seemed tangential to the blended learning process, it was my favorite because it concentrated on what I consider a foundational necessity for school success—a culture in which we work together toward common goals.
    • (250) I liked the definition of culture, which I would morph just slightly for my own use as follows: Culture is the atmosphere we create through how well we work together toward our common goals.
    • (252) I will be working in a resource position this year, and worked in a study hall last year. I have successfully used the parents’ two steps listed on this page to successfully refocus students and encourage continued effort:
    o Lead and Train
    o Ask students to set their own goals.
    • (254) Did everyone notice that the first steps to create a culture are the same as integrating blended learning? 1. Define the problem, 2. Establish a team to deal with the problem.
    • (260) This page seems to agree with my assessment that having teachers implement blended learning individually within a classroom is not really the optimum use of the syste.
    • (261) I realize that current teaching asks students to look up their own answers instead of asking questions of the teacher, and I understand the reasoning. But I also worry that it creates some students who stop asking. I also worry that some students don’t receive proper training in how to ensure they are locating accurate information, which results in students who believe the first answer that pops up in any internet search.

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    1. I enjoyed reading your blog- It helped me to go back in the chapter and look at it from a different perspective.
      P. 261- I hadn't thought about students stopping asking questions, but I sure would hope teachers would prepare their students to be ready to find answers on their own. I think it would be very important to check back in with students and share out what they have gained from their search.

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  98. I like this chapter because it relates to more than just blended learning. I also liked that it started out talking about goals that the school wants to achieve. Goals are important and usually help shape a school, if everyone is focused on the same goal. I've seen schools have goals that not everyone believed in, and they were never achieved because there were other goals that people thought were more important. So the culture in the school wasn't quite there together.

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    1. I agree that everyone needs to be focused on the same goal. Too often, many have their own personal agenda instead of staying focused on the school's vision and mission. I'm still trying to figure out where my building is on blended learning.

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  99. This chapter really made me reflect on the responsibility a leader has on shaping the culture of a school. On page 261- when it says that culture is a strong force for good or evil- that resonated with me. I have struggled with the concept of a powerful culture to drive change. How can this be done when so many have their own personal agendas- they say they are doing one thing, but have no evidence to back it up. I guess I would love to experience a school where everyone is on the same page, working together, and following through on the initiatives that are in the best interest of students- not what they have always done or what is comfortable for them.

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  100. Take Aways from Chapter 9

    1. execution still matters most. And when the culture isn't right or is uneven, the execution can fall apart.
    2. “Blended learning accelerates a good culture and makes it great, but it will also accelerate a bad culture and make it terrible.” 1 Culture is especially useful— or toxic—
    3. If students lack the processes and cultural norms to handle that agency, the shift toward a personalized environment can backfire.
    4. If a culture has formed, people will autonomously do what they need to do to be successful.”
    5. The power of culture is that as members of an organization reach a shared paradigm about how to work together to be successful, ultimately they don't have to stop to ask each other what to do. Students keep doing what they have been doing because it works.
    6. leaders can shape the culture of their organization.
    7. Culture is formed through repetition.
    8. Leaders must make decisions that are entirely aligned to it.
    9. How do we plan, model, train, and hold students and staff accountable for the culture we want to create?

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  101. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  102. I believe at this time our school is not ready for blended learning. The culture is not set. We have to have administration, staff, parents and students on board. To be able to do this we must have students doling to do work outside of the classroom, independently, and we don't see that being done on E-learning days at 100%.

    I agree completely. The administration must take the lead and let us know what they want us to do, but we have to have the teachers wanting to support it. I do not feel that our school would be 100% behind this.

    We as teachers do control the climate of our rooms and what we do can make or break the learning. If we have not set goals and lead the students, then they won't follow.

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  103. Culture is the most critical part of the learning environment of any school. Culture is powerful and without the right culture the power of culture could doom any attempt at blended learning or any other innovative approach for that matter. I do like the part of the chapter that talks about how to shape culture. School leaders from the principle to the custodian and lunch ladies are integral to culture. teachers of course are vital. shaping a culture for a particular purpose or changing a culture need a definition, a group of problem solvers, an idea that failure is not an option and if it happens we try again, when success happens repetition of the process is necessary of the problem reoccurs, culture must be promoted and everyday the staff must live with the culture. This is not easy. There will be resistance to the changes. Leadership is essential. sometimes steps are pretty drastic in changing cultures. Anyway, if blended learning is going to be successful the culture must support the change and teachers must be on board to implement the changes. Finally, we must not forget the students who must become part of the culture and buy into the changes also for it to be successful.

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    1. I agree with your whole post. I really like your last statement. We do the job that we do because we love kids and want them to do well...so we can not forget them in this whole process.

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  104. The culture in my building has been one of encouraging blended learning. Besides the classroom, our building has developed a project room where Students can interact more openly, and create projects. Once presentation time comes, there is a large screen to aide the students.
    Similar to the ideas on creating culture: we have often begun,settings with celebrations or successes.
    The culture of a blended classroom begins with attempts, mistakes, and frustration. It takes a culture of commitment to succeed in converting to a blended classroom mentality.
    When problems arise, communicate within a team, share solutions or possible solutions. When something works, repeat it.
    Once a common goal is created, steam, or a school will find a way to be successful

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  105. I will be at a new building and new grade level this coming school year, so I really can't attest to the culture of the school. I did find the idea of culture informative and that educators really are the makers of our culture at school and in the classroom. I like to think that culture can be changed through repetition.
    I also found the example from Carpe Diem to be useful. I think many educators understand the importance of procedures and getting them right in the beginning of the school year is essential to smoother school year. I think their idea of letting kids take a "quick nap" to be important as well. While it seems laughable to let kids put their heads down to take a nap at school, it really is beneficial for being productive, especially since I feel many kids are sleep-deprived (and may explain some of the negative behaviors we see at school).

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    1. Good luck at your new school, Lisa. I am taking on a new position as a Tech Integration Coach this year. I will be at a building I have been teaching in for years and adding a second school that I don't know very well. I think I need to sit back and observe what their current culture is like as I start off this year. It's hard to jump in to a new culture, but I am looking forward to being open to new ideas and perhaps help shape it even if only in a small way because I too think that culture can change with repitition.

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  106. I think the culture in our building varies a lot. We have some teachers that are very excited about technology and dove in head first last year to get themselves ready. There are also teachers on the other end of the spectrum that have been doing things with minimal technology for many years. Then there are those in the middle (and even those people vary). I would say mainly the teachers in the middle are excited about technology but are possibly overwhelmed or don't know where to start. Overall, I think most, if not all, of the teachers are willing to learn and work this into their classrooms. We are open to the ideas and welcome it in some aspects. My guess, based on my own thoughts, is that many teachers are concerned with the amount of time kids are on devices. As a 3rd grade teacher, it's tricky because they are still young when they come to us in the fall. It will take a lot of training and practice to get things done for them. However, after Christmas, they tend to pick things up a little faster and I am hopeful and excited that they will be able to participate in more things!

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  107. I thought that this was an important topic to broach while discussing blended learning. A positive culture in a school must be in place to develop a new and extreme change in education compared to the norm. I liked how the author gave the steps to foster success in changing the culture. I feel that many times school systems fail to try a new approach when their first attempt is unsuccessful. I also think it is important to keep the same team intact even after the attempt is successful to help problem solve any new issues that arise.

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  108. This was the easiest chapter for me so far in the book. No complicated examples to figure out how they relate to my classroom. Many of the other chapters were harder reads for me. My building has its own unique culture from the main building. I really do think that the culture of my building would be read for a blended learning focus. I think we could still be true to our mission and do the blended learning. I still feel like I would really like to see the blended learning in action. I'm not very techy myself so that does make a little nervous about trying something so progressive when I feel like I'm lacking some skills. I do go to the trainings offered by my school, but since we use almost no technology in my building (due to lack of wifi and internet availability) I don't have a lot of practice. I think the kids would do great. We have a self running class room already and the students have a lot of choices about their path ways. I really could see it working for us.

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  110. I work at a very large high school. To say that it would, or wouldn't, be conducive to a blended learning culture is difficult. If I think only of my department (around 40 teachers), I would say it is split about 30-40-30. 30% would be happy and ready to jump right in, 30% would resist and do everything possible to undermine the change, and 40% would be willing to try but may or may not actually help the culture change.

    I liked this chapter-it relates to so much more than just blended learning! Culture is one of the keys to student success no matter what style of learning is taking place. I think it is important to remember what the book said: blended learning accelerates a good culture and makes it great, but can also accelerate a bad culture and make it terrible. I like that steps were included to establish a good culture and I think it is important that we remember not to give up on something if it doesn't work right the first time and to repeat the process if it does!

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  111. We have been a 1:1 school for five years now, and I've been really encouraged with how that's gone. One of the main reasons something like that has been successful is that our teachers took the challenge head-on! I have worked for a couple of corporations, but the positivity that our teachers, as a whole, show on a daily basis has created a culture that I don't think I would trade. I have seen changes implemented that, in other schools I personally know of, would have taken at least a year of negotiating/arguing between the teacher's association and the administration. This staff has readily accepted a mentality of "Let's do what is best for the students." With that, most everyone is really great about embracing change, trying new things, learning from our failures, and celebrating our successes. I am really happy to be there as I hear of difficulties around the state in other school systems...many of those could have been resolved quickly, or avoided altogether, if the right type of culture was in place. I like the culture that was created before I got there, and I like being a part of a staff that does nothing but strengthen that culture year-in and year-out. For these reasons, I feel like the culture would lend itself to an easier transition to a blended atmosphere than in many other places.

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    1. As a small school, we have made major changes since becoming a 1:1 school. I am simply amazed on how far we have come compared to other schools. I think the last line on p. 251 sums up our building: “The organization becomes self-managing, as people autonomously do what they need to do to be successful.” We have flipped classrooms, station rotations, standards based grading, project based learning and much more going on around the building. Everyone wants what is best for our students.

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    2. I agree, Joe and Sandy, that we are lucky to be surrounded by mostly positive voices in our school. Our school has gone through many trials and tribulations during the years I've taught there. Being part of a small school, each student is a name, not a number. But, I also was a high school student in a larger corporation, and we had a good school culture there, too. It really comes down to the teachers in the building, day in and day out, doing the best they can for the kids. Having administrators that make you feel they're supportive, understanding, and in the trenches with you goes a long way toward creating a positive school culture. We haven't always had that, but I'm happy to say we do now.

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  112. When I look at the school districts that I have worked in it is interesting to compare the different cultures and how it relates to blended learning. One school is already implementing blended learning and they are continually tweaking things to best fit their students and teachers. Another school that I worked in does not have a culture where blended learning would be successful. The third district was not doing blended learning at the time when I worked there but is now doing some blended learning and finding huge success.

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  113. I think the chapter and the idea of culture was best summed up in the last paragraph of the chapter, "… Culture is a strong force for good or evil. Harnessing it is one of the most powerful things leaders can do to implement a blended learning program in which people will autonomously do what they need to do to be successful."

    The school in which I teach encourages this well in their teachers. We are each encouraged to do what works best for us in our individual classrooms and with our use of iPads. The problem comes that with these varying strategies, there can be some inconsistencies. Take dress code for example. Each teacher has a different way of dealing with it and giving consequences to that. This creates a culture of the dress code being ineffective because it is not consistently enforced. At the staff meetings this week, it was decided that once a month during morning announcements the students will be asked to stand and each teacher would then send any offending students to the office. So at least here is an example of teachers are working together to create a common culture in one aspect.

    I think creating a common culture is a one thing at a time thing. Noah didn't build his arc in a day either. I am hoping we have more consistency with our use of iPads, or more importantly what to do with kids who are using their iPads for non-academic reasons. Perhaps this is an individual teacher – created cultural standard, and I think I need to get better at this.

    One of the most important cultural aspects that I think the school as a whole and each individual teacher must uphold are high standards. There is an overall belief of this in the school but it is up to each teacher to convey this in their classrooms which I think is of most importance.

    I do wish at times that teachers were more involved with creating the school's culture. Often times, the administration creates entirely new agendas without consulting the teachers or without training them after the decision was made. Case in point, we are moving to a block schedule this coming school year. This was decided without much consultation of all the teachers and we have been given very little training. However it is my job as a teacher to adapt and succeed so I will be learning from other schools how to best utilize the extra class time and the different schedules.

    As the chapter states, the school culture is a strong force for good or evil, and harnessing it is one of the most powerful things we can do as leaders and teachers.

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  114. I really enjoyed this chapter. It really seemed to hot home when it talked about the culture of a school. Our principal is always telling us that she thinks we are all too negative. That she wants us to focus only on the positive behavior methods. Of course this is not always possible as there must be consequences for certain behaviors. While we all try hard to the positive things, there is also an underlying negativity amoung the teachers. Lots of backstabbing and talking about each other. It is very sad. I think the idea of celebrating at the beginning of meetings would do a world of good for our school. I also started thinking of having a brainstorming circle with my class about solutions for their behavior problems. This would give them some part of the decision making and make them more accountable.

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  115. “Culture” is just a general term that means different things depending on who you are talking to. This is true within the environment of the school where I teach. I think of culture one way which may be completely different from the way a colleague views culture. I like a comfortable, safe and orderly environment where some of my colleagues are okay with chaos, at least that is how I would view it. My school is conducive to blended learning but not all of the staff are. Creating a good culture is what is necessary for blended learning to be successful. Without the correct culture, chaos will happen. I will be trying very hard this year to create the type of culture in my classroom that will help my students learn better. It is so true that shaping this culture begins one step at a time.

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  116. This chapter resonated with me. Our adult education program, up to this point, has been several different classes at several different sites doing instruction in several different ways. We are trying to become uniform across our program. We want our students to have the similar experiences and instruction no matter which site they attend for class. Creating a culture for our program that is enforced by our entire staff is key to making this a success. I believe that if we tackle one small problem at a time to create a norm for all classes, we can eventually create the culture of success in learning that we seek. I like the quote from page 255, "Communication is important, but it is even more important to hold to that communication and follow through with it." We have discussed the importance of being uniform as a program. It is now time for us to follow through with these discussions and create the changes. Our follow through is what will determine the success of our culture change.

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  117. Culture in a classroom and school is so important for maximum learning to be reached so I was very happy to see this chapter. My school has a very supportive and positive culture so blended learning will hopefully 'take-off' once we alll get the hang of it.

    One of my concerns about one-on-one technology is the amount time it will take the kids to log-in. I have heard they catch on very quickly but am still nervous. I think there should be a happy medium between Gilroy Prep and Anacostia.

    This chapter talked a lot about creating groups to test the culture. In everything we do new committees are created and it could have the adverse effect on the school culture because it becomes another duty on our already overflowing plates.

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  118. My school tends to have the mentality of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." They don't really strive for innovative ideas. So, I think the first group we will need to target is the teachers. IF we can't really get them on board, blending teaching might be a hard sell to the students. The best ways to help the teachers is to give them practical tips, tangible goals, and solid resources. If you just give them a bunch of computers, they will simply use technology to enhance their lessons, but they likely won't use truly blended learning.

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  119. I believe that my school would do great if we got everyone on board to use blended classrooms. The big issue would be what model to use. I realize that one may not be as easy to use for some classrooms as others, but I believe that for it to work at my school, we would need to decide what model to use and then that way, those who are not as technologically advanced as others could seek help from their team members.

    The big issue I see with this at my school would be that it would have to come from the top down for everyone to do it. If it is not supported and promoted by the Principal, then it won't happen.

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  120. I believe that my school is ready to move forward to 1:1 this year. The support and enthusiasm from Or administration has really helped with this transition. We've been offered many PD days on different programs, applications, and other seminars on various technological advances. Due to the support of our admin and flexibility they’ve had while entering our 1:1 environment, there seems to be little need for a shift in our school “culture”. I think I would rather use the word morale or outlook instead of culture. As mentioned above from many other teachers, culture can mean something different between students, teachers, or the community. To answer the given question, I read “culture” as school “morale”.

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  121. I think that my school would be oonducive to blended learning. Administrators have already planned for virtual learning labs at the Middle/High School and at the elementary school. They also implemented a Project Lead the Way Class to curriculum. Students attend the learning lab for Project Lead the Way once a week at the Elementary Level and there is also one Project Lead the Way class at the Middle School. Several teachers are implementing Station Rotations in their individual classrooms. We are in a Cluster System where 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students rotate between reading, writing and math class, so we have a culture in place for expectations when moving between classes. We still have more to do to be completely ready but I believe this is a start.

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  122. I believe it would be very easy to used blended learning at my school. We are very fortunate to be one-to-one, to be provided with tech training and to have a great staff willing to try new things. The technology department tries to meet our needs. The teachers in my building, as well as myself, just need to take a leap of faith. There will be a learning curve!

    As a veteran teacher, I have spent many hours in computer training this summer. There are countless ways to present/review a lesson it is sometimes overwhelming. I have learned so much.

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  123. I feel that our school has a very positive culture. We are going through a lot of changes this year so it will be into see what changes with us and if we stay the positive unit that we have been. We have a principal in her 2nd year and ready to implement some changes, we are going 1:1 in January, we are doing new testing, and are starting a new math curriculum that seems challenging. I think adding blended learning at this point would not work for us. Many teachers are already feeling overwhelmed and if we were to add this in top of that we would have lots of resistance. I think our staff would be more receptive if we didn't have so many other things already going on this year. I think doing some of it in my own classroom this year is the place to start.

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  124. I thought the example of students briefly putting their heads down on their desks to take a break was very interesting. I feel strongly that as long as this was monitored that a lot of students could learn to self regulate better. I also think how this would decrease trips to our school nurse with students potentially out of a classroom longer. Additionally, the thought process of students developing their own culture of success and meeting them where they are makes sense.

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  125. We have a few teachers that are doing blended learning in their classrooms…so our current culture is conducive to some forms of blended learning. I am not sure if we are looking at everyone jumping on board or if it will remain as individual teachers doing their own thing. We have administrators that offer teachers support to try different techniques to enhance student learning. Switching to blended learning is a process and I hope if implemented for the whole school or district that we are careful to always remember we need to do what is best for our kids.

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    1. I think gradual steps of including blended learning are good for our school community. Parents need to be educated as the students and faculty about what blended learning is, and what it can do for our district.

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  126. I think having a “good school culture” is something that comes with consistency. An example is the student dress code. The current culture is that students get away with things because the policy is not evenly applied. If we want that “good school culture” as far as dress code, the rules need to be enforced and the policy needs to be applied after the student is sent to the office.
    The same would go for blended learning. This is not something that a teacher can do on his or her own. It needs to be Everyone on board and supporting our way towards a common goal. There needs to be excellent communication also, between administrators, faculty, and students. Then each individual needs to hold himself to high standards.

    I do not feel we are ready for blended learning, but perhaps will be soon. Things are changing quickly with our progress 1:1. But we’ll need everyone willing to work at it.

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  127. Our school has a really positive culture as a whole. We are a very small school. I feel that some of the teachers may be for implementing blended learning to a certain extent. I think it would be hard for everyone to commit to it 100% and for everyone to be on the same page with it. Since we only go to 5th grade and I myself feel that blended learning is aimed more towards older students I am finding it difficult to picture at our school. A lot of shifts would have to happen within individual classrooms and as a whole before it could effectively happen for us to be ready.

    -Micha Schneider

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  128. I think for some teachers when thinking about blended learning the hardest concept for them is giving students more control and flexibility while the teacher steps back in their role. In my school there would be some teachers that would welcome a blended learning culture while others would be resistant. All in all I think our teachers try to provide a positive culture. After reading this chapter I better understand why creating the right culture is important for blended learning as well as any classroom environment. I like the idea that when you reshape a culture you don't look at the overall picture but take one problem at a time.

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  129. I think my school's culture would have to be tweaked a little for blended learning to work. Mostly in students learning how to self-manage themselves and stay on task. With so many different things going on and possibly a more open layout for work spaces, students would need to be more disciplined in staying on task. Students would also need to become better problem solvers for themselves to be successful without constant guidance from the teacher. Luckily, students are already used to having their own technology but there is some need to be more responsible with that too.

    The ideas about culture in this chapter seem to come at a good time for me as I'm thinking about setting up my classroom procedures, rules, and routines for the new school year. The steps of identifying a problem and generating possible solutions then following through is a good reminder to reflect on previous experiences and think about how to make things run more smoothly in class.

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  130. I really enjoyed this chapter on culture. I currently teach pre-k at a church while renewing my elementary teaching license so I won't be doing any blended learning there but was excited to do this study for when I am in an elementary classroom.
    However, this is one of the chapters that I felt like I could really relate to preschool too. If we want the children to use the restroom the correct way including washing their hands, then we first need to teach it, then model it, and then monitor them for awhile until we know that they know what they should be doing. The same goes for walking quietly in the hallway and taking turns talking.

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  131. Creating an acceptable classroom or school culture has been a fascinating topic for my department the past couple of years. The past two years we've had two different, new teachers to our building. Both struggled with some aspects of classroom management which led to problems creating the desired classroom cultures for them. When they would ask the other English teachers how to correct areas of concern, it made for some serious reflection amidst the other four English teachers. What did we do? Despite our best advice and administrators' help, neither teacher stayed long enough to get their students on course. At the heart of things, I believe both teachers wanted their students to like them so badly, that they were not establishing boundaries or communicating to students clearly enough what their expectations were. Ironically, in both cases, students ended up disliking these teachers' lack of organization, class content, and, strangely enough, classroom rules. Students usually do not like chaos, and an enjoyable classroom culture is impossible amid chaos.

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  132. I believe in my school that most of us would be open to blended learning. We have a few teachers that might have a harder time being convinced, but for the most part we all are willing to try new things. I do work in a K-5 school, so I have a hard time seeing us being able to go blended. The students are just so young and I think they need more time being taught by teachers rather than technology. I definitely think certain elements would be great, but to go completely blended isn't something I see happening.

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  133. I agree with many of the above comments. I think that most of the staff would be ready to try something different and would embrace the chance to use technology on a steady basis in the classroom. There are a few staff members that would not be interested. It's hard to change your ways after doing things for so long in the same manner. Those that don't bring their MacBook to the teacher meetings and bring notebook and pencil instead. It's hard to try out something different. I know that at first Google classroom was a jump for me. I am so glad that we started to use this. It keeps everyone up-to-date on what we are doing in class. If someone is absent, they just need to check it out online. I love it. I have been using Google forms more too. We may need to convince a few of our teachers to try it out. I am always willing to try something new.

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