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Don't Teach the Canaries Not to Sing

Don't Teach the Canaries Not to Sing
Creating a School Culture That Boosts Achievement

January 2008 | 176 pages | Corwin
This book is a practical, 'how-to' handbook for creating an organizational school climate that brings out the best in students, staff, parents, and community members. Through concrete, real-world examples, insider insights, and down-to-earth explorations, this text demystifies the phenomenon of a school's culture. Without resorting to lofty jargon, the book clearly defines what school culture is, where it comes from, how it works, and why it is critically important. Best of all, the guide contains all the tools needed to 'grow' a school culture that maximizes student performance, empowers staff members, welcomes and engages parents, and energizes community support.

Each chapter is packed with specific information, guidelines, skills, strategies, and techniques needed, as well as warning signs and pitfalls to avoid, to create a school culture that works for everyone. This is a total package, including foundations, structures, processes, and practices for developing an environment that is 'nutritious', challenging, supporting, rewarding, and inspiring for all those involved with the school.

Preface: Why This Title
About the Author
Introduction: Culture Shock
1. School Culture Under the Microscope: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It's So Important
2. The Many Phases and Faces of School Personalities
3. Profile of a Healthy School Culture That Works for Everyone
4. How Do You Know It's Time to Tune Your Bagpipes? Signs of a Toxic School Culture
5. Assessing the DNA of Your School's Culture
6. Avoiding "Fratricide" (Death by Friendly Fire)
7. A Dresser of Sycamore Trees: The Leader's Role in Shaping the School's Culture
8. Don't Teach the Canaries Not to Sing: Creating a School Culture That Works for All Students
9. Use All the Gifts (Assets): Creating a School Culture That Works for Staff
10. The Dancing Bear Metaphor: Creating a School Culture That Works for Parents and the Community
11. A Results-Oriented Work Environment (ROWE): Linking Culture and Achievement
12. No Deposit, No Return: Culture Building Made Simple
Resource A. FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
Resource B. FSWs: Frequently Stated Worries
Resource C. What Others Say About Organizational Culture
Resource D. Related Readings: The Short List

"The book provides school leaders with an ABC format for building effective school culture. It is evident that the author has a wealth of knowledge in this field and has documented his work in this area. This book will make a unique and distinct contribution to the field."

Harriet Gould, Principal
Raymond Central Public Schools, Valparaiso, NE

"A very enjoyable read, with lots of suggestions and ideas that can be implemented immediately. Site leaders will find the book refreshing and helpful for their daily activities. Each chapter has lots of thoughtful ideas, suggestions, recommendations, assessments, and profiles that can be used in improving school culture."

Cary Dritz, Associate Superintendent
Ventura County Office of Education, Camarillo, CA

"The clear, concise themes for each chapter are backed by research and provide an understanding of what needs to be done to improve school climate. This book could be used for a team study of a building or district to measure the cultural temperature, by teacher teams to start a grassroots movement to improve school climate, or by reflective leaders who want to continuously improve their organizations."

Edward J. Drugo, Principal
Latrobe Elementary School, PA

"I found the material, topic, and examples extremely useful. I have already discussed several ideas with teachers and my superintendent."

Virginia Drouin, Principal
Alfred Elementary School, ME

"If school leaders would only do a few of the suggestions, those leaders would find clear evidence of improvement within their school. Just follow the steps offered and you too can become a better leader within you school’s culture while improving that culture."

Robert W. Fowls, Head of School
Trinity Lutheran School, Bend, OR

"There are other books on school culture, but the tell-it-like-it-is, no-holds-barred style of writing makes this a book I would recommend to others."

Frank Buck, Curriculum & Special Education Supervisor
Talladega City Schools, AL

"The ideas are useful, thought provoking, and can be implemented within the limitations of the desire to truly make a change by those who have the wherewithal to do so."

Stephen Handley, Superintendent
Hinds County School District, MS

“An outstanding analysis of what school culture is, how it works, and why it’s important to develop. Student performance and staff efforts pair with parental engagement and community support in such a process, creating a culture that is dynamic, interactive, and positive: here’s how to build it, with real-world examples adding vision and insights.”

The Bookwatch, April 2008
Midwest Book Review

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

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ISBN: 9781412948944
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