Blog posts from Research for Better Teaching

12 Observable Features of a Strong Adult Professional Culture

By Jon Saphier - June 22, 2015

The strength of Adult Professional Culture is a direct predictor of how well a school will meet the educational needs of its students. So, how do you know if you have a strong adult professional culture in your school building or district?

Based on a synthesis of research over the last 30 years, I have identified the following twelve observable characteristics that are present when a strong adult professional culture is firmly in place. You can use this as a checklist to evaluate or survey your own professional culture to identify your areas of strength and weakness.

  1. It is safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of your colleagues?
  2. We engage in non-defensive self-examination of our teaching practice in relation to student results.
  3. We consistently use data to re-focus teaching.
  4. Other teachers and administrators frequently observe our teaching.
  5. We are continuously learning about High-Expertise Teaching.
  6. We engage in deep collaboration and deliberate design to facilitate  interdependent work, and we take joint responsibility for student results.
  7. We are committed to implementing the “Smart is something you can get” mindset in classroom practice, class structures, and school policies and procedures.
  8. We have both urgency and press to better support academically our less advantaged students.
  9. We are able to have honest, open communication and difficult conversations.
  10. We feel appreciated and recognized as professionals.
  11. Our standards for teaching expertise are high and demanding for all teachers.
  12. Decision-making is clear and has legitimacy.