School Culture Players

Resistance to change is a reality in many schools, especially those schools with traditionally underperforming students. The pressure to change and improve student performance through the mandates of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) make this an even more difficult task. In order to understand how to tackle this complex issue, school leaders (including teacher leaders) need to understand the dynamics of school culture. Schools have three major categories of players in the school culture arena; Believers, Tweeners, and Fundamentalists.

Believers are educators who are predisposed to the ideas and programs that support the egalitarian idealism of education. They are willing, and in fact seek, the best models to support the universal achievement of their students.

Tweeners are those educators who are new to school culture. These educators are given a probationary period of two-to-five years to pick sides in the school tug-of-war. Unfortunately 50% of new educators leave the field in their first five years of employment and this number jumps to over 70% in urban areas. This group is critical to school improvement because if high-risk schools do not retain qualified staff members, school reform because nearly impossible because long-term initiatives become impossible and there is no organizational memory.

Fundamentalists are educators who are comfortable with status quo and they organize and work against any viable form of change. There goal is to be left alone. They have many tools that they use to thwart reform initiatives, and without the proper leadership, they are generally successful. The interaction of these complex groups of individuals make school reform difficult at best and only disciplined and informed leadership is qualified to untangle this web and focus the school professionals on the singular goal of total student success.


  1. Thank you, Dr. Muhammed, for your talk at Klein ISD’s opening convication today. I especially was interesed in the description of the description of the school culture players. I am starting a support group for new teachers (Tweeners) at one of our high schools. Your talk gave me more to think about with them.

    Cathleen Sheil (Licensed Specialist in School Psychology, Klein Collins High School)

  2. Dear Dr. Anthony,

    I have ordered your books from Amazon to help my journey as a teacher and aspiring principal.

    Hopefully a day, I will co-author a book with you from the perspective of an educator facing severe discrimination and division from peers and administrators in school building, and you as leader to cope with such hard school realities.

    I suggest for your 2nd Edition of “Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division” to add discrimination, isolation and conspiracy among teacher fellows; school’s groups of power (Some teachers) to manipulate administrators; principals with dual ethical behavior, one indulgent for themselves and another stringent and biased for others (staff/parents), where educators with intimidating and fighting character are saved and avoided, and the rest of teachers with a pacific and humble endeavor are abused and neglected.

    Luckily, I will help to bring your expertise and wisdom to Colorado, ASAP.

    Many blessings,

    Sonia de Rivera, M.A.
    2nd Grade Teacher
    Thornton, Colorado

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