School Culture

Culture of a School: Interview and Reflection Paper Guidelines Ana Luna EDL505 Prof. Karen Clark 02/25/2013 * * Part One: Interview * To: Johnette Robinson * Owner and Director * Childlife Preschool 1. What is the school profile? (Urban, rural, etc. , grade level of students, number of students, number of students on free or reduced lunch (if applicable), ethnicity, number of students receiving special services and which type of special services, etc. The name of the school need not be revealed. ) * Childlife Preschool is located in an exclusive area of the city of Tampa,Carrollwood.
Our school serves 110 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 12 years old. We have a very special racial diversity composed of 42 Hipic, 9 Blacks, 38 Caucasians and 18 students from other ethnic groups (Indians, Brazilians, and Europeans). We have 51 children participating in the free lunch program provided by the government and 7 children participating in therapy (occupational, speech, psychology) and EELP (Exceptional Education Learning Program). Is state testing mandated? If so, how do students in general perform?
If not, what type of testing is used to determine overall student achievement? * Our Program VPK (voluntary pre kindergarten) is tested by a standardized test called VPK assessment. This test is sent by Florida Department of Education and must be administered three times during the school year. The results of this test reveal the academic, social and language skills of our students. In these tests the state requires us punctuation not less than 69, our school earned a punctuation of 81 for the 2011-2012 school year. This year we are working towards our goal of 90 to become a five stars provider.

In what ways are students and staff acknowledged in the school? * Members of our staff and students are recognized as an essential part of our school. Teachers are evaluated annually and earn bonuses depending on their performance in the classroom. Students are recognized each month, the staff choose the students of the month are five children who have distinguished for their improvement, behavior and achievement their works are displayed in the hallway for the whole month in the office hallway and are rewarded with a free pizza sponsored by a local business.
What types of extracurricular activities are offered for students? Do students of both genders and all ethnicities represented in the school participate? Are some activities more popular depending upon cultural background? * In our school we offer both karate and gymnastics programs that are offered by local businesses specializing in these areas. Students of all races involved in those activities. Which is considered the greater challenge, academic achievement or behavior? Is there a connection between the two? We take equally the challenge of academic achievement and behavior, it is important for us to fully develop both areas because our main goal as a preschool is to prepare the child to go to the regular school. I definitely think there is a connection between academic achievement and behavior therefore both must be of equal importance in the teaching process. Our curriculum contains a wide section of social studies and social skills that target to develop the child’s behavioral areas at par with the academic area.
What types of professional learning have been offered to staff within the last year? * All our staff must complete at least 20 hours of continuing studies to improve their performance in the classroom. In the last year our school offered several classes like CPR, Exceptional Student Population, Classroom Management and techniques and other workshops offered by Florida Early Learning Coalition. All workshops are paid by the school. How are teachers encouraged to share with each other what they learn and do? Most of the teachers who took a course paid by the school must offer their peers a summary of the techniques they learned in class in order to expand knowledge. Every Thursday of the month we have a meeting in which separates a time for this purpose. Does the school administration engage in looking at school data with the staff? If so how is the data used? * The school administration is responsible for analyzing the data of testing and using graphs, charts and percentages discussed the results to improve those areas that need to be strengthened or improved.
Is the staff in the school aware of the impact of culture on teaching and learning? Explain. * Our staff is trained on the importance of providing a multicultural environment for our children as these multicultural experiences will help foster social skills and adaptation that are very useful in everyday life and in the regular school. What types of culturally responsive instructional practices are used in the school? Do all teachers, some teachers, or a few teachers use these practices? At Childlife each classroom must maintain at least one multicultural area or include multicultural elements in various learning centers. For example in the babies classroom they have soft dolls representing different ethnic groups and some soft books in different languages. In other classrooms with older students we have musical instruments from other cultures, pictures of other countries and clothes that represent diverse cultures that expose the child to different cultural experiences.
These multicultural practices are part of our philosophy so each teacher must use these practices in the classroom. Are the school rules or expectations posted? Are they stated in a positive way? Are they taught to students? * The rules and expectations are posted in the parent handbook and in the employee handbook. The rules are adapted to children at every level and are mostly hung around circle time in the classroom with pictures that help children to understand the rules. Do students have a voice in the school?
Do they help determine rules, plan activities, etc? If so how? * Preschoolers do not have much involvement in designing the rules or school activities because of their young age lack the maturity to this. However our activities are focused in the interests of our children who will participate in the activity. How are families and the community encouraged to participate? * In Childlife preschool we believe in the integrity of the family and community as an essential factor in the optimization of the teaching, so we encourage them to be part of our school.
Some of the activities which we encourage parents and community to participate in the school activities are the open house, fieldtrips and celebrations. * Part Two: Interview Reflection The Philosophy of Childlife Preschool is to create a caring, positive atmosphere that will motivate children to learn and develop physically, socially and emotionally. It is our goal to help children discover the joy of learning and have the desire to achieve that will last all their lives. We are committed to guiding children to develop a positive self-concept to e successful in their future educational endeavors. That is why we must not ignore the interaction between cultures that is occurring in our society and in our school. It is important to include multicultural elements that expose the child to experiences that help to accept other cultures and live in the diverse society in which we live. Our director has trained and oriented the staff about multicultural dynamics that we need to perform in the classroom as part of preschool education that we provide to our children.
The classrooms in Childlife multicultural preschool contain elements that help children understand diversity. Through continuing education workshops for teachers we also have had the opportunity to learn a lot about this topic and have enriched the educational environment with different multicultural elements. Technology also helped us a lot, although she does not mention it in the interview our classrooms were equipped with ipads in May allowing us to expand through the resources we use technology in the classroom including culture.
The integration of extracurricular activities, community and parents are other elements that help to incorporate other cultures and enrich the educational environment with diverse knowledge and experiences. Childlife Preschool is a secure, loving environment where Parents and Teachers work together to encourage each child’s independent exploration of their world and promote their social, emotional, physical and cognitive growth.
The “culture” of a school is an important aspect for Both students and staff because it helps to build a school that teaches tolerance, acceptance and adaptation to diversity. Our multicultural practices are part of our philosophy and we have helped to develop social skills that will serve the child in their daily lives and will serve in the future. The school is the first social institution to which the child is exposed so it is important to promote a culture of peace, tolerance and acceptance in which every single child feel special and proud of his heritage and roots.

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