A vibrant, robust, and inclusive school culture is a vital part of a healthy high school learning environment. In the past, those who visited Gateway’s hallways and classrooms were immediately welcomed into a unique and bustling atmosphere. Today, we are stepping up to the challenge of adapting and maintaining our famous school culture, even through the limitations of remote learning. As we learn from other innovative schools and employ our own distinct methods, we have discovered that our school’s cultural identity can be just as special in the digital world.
Keep it Consistent
Whether we are learning in the classroom or through remote learning, consistency is always important when maintaining school culture. When students log in and start learning online, they should feel the same unique Gateway experience that we’ve worked so hard to cultivate over the years. Teachers should work together to make sure their online lessons are adhering to the same general style and tone so that students feel a sense of belonging throughout the day.
Keep it Positive
Staying positive is more important than ever before. Our school culture should always remind students that learning is a fun, enjoyable experience. During the pandemic, learners may be dealing with all kinds of pressures and concerns at home. Gateway can create a positive culture that represents a welcome escape for these students – an environment where they can lose themselves in the joy of reading or problem-solving. One easy way to maintain a positive school culture is to celebrate the achievements of individual students through our digital platforms.
The Transition to a Culture of Care
The pandemic has reminded us all that a “Culture of Care” is incredibly important as our students progress with remote learning. Dr. Tom Cavanagh is the author of Continuity of Caring Relationships in Schools, a book that outlines the concept of a culture of care in workplaces and in schools. “A Culture of Care is a theory that says schools and workplaces should put more importance on relationships than curriculum when determining their institutional purpose,” explained Dr. Cavanagh in a 2010 article, “It encourages one-on-one relationships.”
The government of Colorado was so impressed by Cavanagh’s research that they implemented similar studies across ten of their high schools. Cavanagh stressed the benefits of a culture of care when dealing with students and teachers who come from different backgrounds: “This causes misunderstandings, but a Culture of Care can bridge this gap when everyone is understood as an individual.”
Building these kinds of relationships may be challenging in a digital environment. That being said, remote learning often provides teachers with greater opportunities for one-on-one sessions with students. It becomes easier to “check in” and build trust when scheduling a meeting is as easy as clicking a button and conversing over video chat.
Taking these Lessons Forward
Gateway is working hard to maintain our school culture during the pandemic, and we plan to take these lessons forward. When students return to our hallways and classrooms, we expect to have a wide range of new strategies that will make our school culture even more welcoming and high-spirited than ever before. Remote learning may be challenging for us all, but overcoming this challenge can only make us stronger.