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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Analysis of Climate & Culture in Classrooms!

The inspiration for this post dates back quite awhile now.  I took a moment to research, after being enlightened,  in comparing and contrasting two words.   I found this endeavor to be very eye opening as well as  intriguing.   One of the terms seemed to surface all the time in educational literature, research and professional development.  Likewise, through all my years of experience in education, it was the one used most by colleagues while collaboration and discussions took place regarding best practices and classroom management.  I concurred with them as I had really never given it much thought.   Neither had I taken the much needed time to reflect on the meaning of these words, and how one of them has now become both archaic and obsolete in education jargon today, or has it really? 

One evening last year I decided to take a closer look at the term "rigor" in the dictionary.  Quite frankly and initially, I was both unsettled and unnerved at its definition as provided and its obvious applications to education;  To say the least it was in fact both the climate and culture as described by many teachers and administrators of past traditional classrooms of the 20th century, or at least how many thousands of educators surely ran them.  Even today, it remains viable as the term is still widely used and misused by both teachers and administrators.   In retrospect, I also believe despite the definition as given, its not the conscious desire or intent of most high quality and effective teachers to run their classrooms in such a manner.  Perhaps in today's classrooms and schools around the world the terms order, focus, driven, engaged, direction, mutual respect, sense of belonging and normalcy were the only semblances or aspects of rigor that teachers truly wanted or desired?

Now, let's look at the term "vigor; It does not take a rocket scientist to see the positive and affirming applications and relevance this term has to classrooms.  Vigor clearly implies a climate and culture which is more inviting and nourishing to the human mind and learning.  On the contrary however, It also reveals a structure that probably is not conducive to much order and normalcy to varying degrees I would think.  I believe few teachers would opine to think differently. Surprisingly, in searching for an image to depict or describe vigor, most of the pictures are difficult to distinguish from those in which you can view under the term rigor? 
I write this in the hope of providing food for thought only and opening up discussion.  As a long time educator and now administrator, I personally do not have an issue with the use of either word.  I just hope those who read this might find it as interesting as I did, and perhaps can learn from it.  My main concern and focus is, are students happy or content with their teachers?  Are they learning?  Are they engaged?  Are they being successful?  Peace, and yours in the good fight.