Imagine walking into a school where you’re greeted with smiling faces of students and teachers. Teachers are excited to begin their day and students look forward to learning and developing themselves. Every lecture is engaging and brings a little more joy to everyone participating. Such is a positive school culture.
Positive school culture is inclusive, student-focused and open to learning. Both students and teachers like to go beyond themselves enabling high student engagement.Transformations endure, staff morale strengthens, and student learning rises in a positive school culture. ☀️ Begin building it in your school with these 5 easy steps!Click To Tweet
Identifying Your School Culture
While positive school culture builds growth, toxic school culture can be draining and devoid of motivation. A toxic school culture has teachers with fixed mindsets who view students as the problem rather than the purpose. While they may offer comedic relief on screen, such a culture can be problematic for society.
How do you Build a Positive School Culture?
With an investment of time and intentional effort, any culture can be nurtured into a positive school culture. Here are 5 meaningful steps:
1. Build Relationships
I once had an exuberant and positive Area Superintendent whose best advice towards improvement was: “Relationships, Relationships, Relationships.” With a whole lot more experience now, it’s clear that relationships are indeed the foundation of a school culture that breeds caring. When staff and students feel gratified and valued, they are likely to work harder and enjoy their work.
2. Model Positive Behavior
Positivity is contagious! Every action creates a ripple effect replicating the nature of the action for all the people observing it–colleagues, leaders or students. With that level of influence, it is a responsibility to model positive and motivating behavior and thoughts. Disengage with negative mindsets and seek to find the good in people and situations. You’ll notice an almost immediate improvement in your environment!
3. Elevate Your School’s Expectations
Collectively, if everyone believes they can achieve more, they will do just that. Elevating expectations for everyone–staff, students, and parents–is a great way to do that. It aligns everyone’s mindsets, increases accountability and has them working as a team towards the same goals.
4. Share Your School’s Vision
Bring everyone together to create a vision. Involve everyone in the decision-making process of the vision, to carry the vision through. Therefore, it’s important to invest in both the shared vision and an individual’s personal vision. This way you ensure you make your staff and students feel like they are treated in the same manner as everyone else.
5. Appreciate People
Because recognition is powerful, it can dramatically impact both teacher and student behavior. Small tokens of appreciation go a long way. Hand-written notes, certificates, a bulletin board, a phone call at home, or a school or class newsletter are all avenues that can recognize students and/or staff and make them feel appreciated.
A positive school culture impacts the entire learning experience for everyone involved. But one doesn’t build this culture overnight. With the right intentions and actions every day, however, you get a whole lot closer to it than you were before.
So next time you find yourself thinking about how you can increase your happiness at your school, you’ll know what to do.
Katie is a Personalized Learning Leader in Volusia County Schools. She helps teachers incorporate educational technology into their curriculum. She believes that students deserve an instructional practice that resonates with their daily lives, and that includes the utilization of technology. She is on a mission to promote the endless benefits that edtech can have on 21st century instructional practices.