When I first started at LAC, I kept hearing a phrase over and over; crickets. Parents and staff kept on talking about crickets. I kept on looking everywhere for a cricket logo. I couldn’t find anything.
About two weeks before school started, a community member came in to introduce herself and said she was a crickeR. Now I knew it I was totally wrong in what I thought I was hearing! I was hearing “cricker” and not “cricket”. So the next question hits… What is a cricker?
I went to the key staff. I learned that the term cricker is a derivative from the term crick, known as a creek to those outside of the down. Given that the town is named Lower Alloways Creek, the term now made sense and the Crickers live here.
It briefly crossed my mind that the term was a type of derogatory term, but that was squashed immediately after remembering that everyone that was born, raised, and lives in LAC is a Cricker and proud to be such. It was a term of endearment thrown around loosely. Knowing this phrase was paramount when it came to culture at LAC School.
While there are scads of books written on school culture, what has worked for me best has always been my eyes and my ears. I also never ever try to fit in; not only do you look like a fool when you attempt to do it, it could be seen as insulting. Sitting back and watching Crickers do their thing was always interesting, and more importantly, I learned a ton. Amongst other things, I learned about muskrats (their fur and how to cook them), how to hunt, and that farmers love to talk after community gatherings. 🙂
The most important piece about culture: don’t EVER try to demonize it or take it away. Just because you don’t understand it does not mean that it is wrong. You grew up in traditions, which were different than mine, which was different from each of the districts that I’ve worked in. At first, I was letting my culture blur my decision making with Cricker culture. That was a mistake. I wasn’t there to be a culture injector, I was there to be an educational leader. It took about three months; once I got over Bambi was being hunted not just for sport, but for food, I understood. I even had homemade Bambi jerky (and yes, it was good).
Keeping culture and maintaining high expectations can go hand in hand. You can keep to your traditions AND be in a learning environment where you are learning. Surely some cultural aspects can impede on learning; I was not a a fan when almost a third called their kids out of school for the first day of hunting season, but I also didn’t let me deter from my intrinsic drive.
I grew, I learned, and I moved onward from the crick. Culture and understanding culture was a huge piece of that. I hope wherever you’re reading this, you’re factoring in your school culture as you make decisions.