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Culture Meeting and Change Up

We now have two different meetings for discussing and shaping the culture of the school. Three days a week, in the middle of the day, we meet for 30 minutes to talk about a subject decided by the facilitators. Typically these discussions are about something we see the school struggling with and other times it’s one an aspect of our student agreements that should be discussed more in depth to make sure everyone understands. Thus far some of the subjects have been about trust, awareness, taking care, cleaning, respect, visions for the school, games, and adult supervision. Our most recent one was about culture meeting itself and we went over what culture meant and why we have these meetings.

A recent change to these culture meetings is separating the older kids from the younger kids. The littles struggle with staying engaged in a 30 minute conversation that they can barely understand. The older kids have to sit through the littles making long winded comments that are totally off topic. We’re still ironing out the effectiveness of this approach so it still feels a bit funky.

We started out reviewing the Community Mastery Board for the last 7-10 minutes of each day. Facilitators felt it was necessary as there were so many things the students needed to be aware of and start practicing immediately. This led to a flood of awarenesses and practices to move through the board each day. We now only do this a couple times a week. The change up meetings go a lot quicker now. This is because the facilitators are addressing their overarching concerns during the culture meeting discussions. Also happening because the kids have gotten into a good groove of quickly assessing how good we’re getting at a practice and much less awarenesses are being generated.

The hurdle with reviewing the CMB now is that we have a good few items that aren’t progressing into mastery. They either stay where they are or get moved back a space. I can’t help but feel this is not the best use of CMB or the practice levels. Though I don’t know how to facilitate us actually getting better at those harder agreements. An additional obstacle is that the kids can start to argue and debate over whether or not a practice should move up, stay, or move down the practice levels.

It’s all still very funky and we’re trying to work out the wrinkles.


  1. Tomis says:

    Thanks for sharing, Anthony.

    What are some of the agreements that are challenging to move through P levels?

    Sometimes you have to look at the original Awareness and come up with a new agreement if the current one isn’t getting enough buy-in.

  2. AnthonyG. says:

    @tomis coming from the facilitators. A great example, walk and be calm and quiet when inside. It get’s boisterous and echoey and we are in a shared space near the front office of the community center. We have repeated conversations about why this agreement/rule is necessary but we’re not really seeing improvement even with constant reminders throughout the day.

    • Tomis says:

      I see. Did the agreement begin with an explicit “Awareness” brought up by one of the facilitators?

      It is super important, especially when you have an agreement that isn’t really being held, to go back and look at what is behind it. What was the need this agreement was addressing? If you can go back and start by having a conversation with them about the underlying need, then you may be able to address the need with a different agreement, or at least one that everyone feels a part of making.

      For us as adults, I think it can be easy to assume it is obvious and that a simple agreement to walk and be quiet when inside is a no-brainer. Clearly they have the need to be loud and run around and other people have a need for quiet in the indoor space. Have you had a conversation that could enroll them in coming up with an agreement that could address all the needs?

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