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School culture is consistently proven through educational research as one of the most impactful contributors to school success. The culture of a school has far-reaching impacts on every aspect of how schools function. Student achievement, teacher effectiveness, teacher retention, community support and student enrollment are all impacted by the explicit and implicit cultural attributes of a school. Below are four foundational ways to create a positive school culture.
1) Teacher leadership -- Create a teacher leadership program that utilizes the strengths of your staff members for school improvement. Note teachers’ strengths and find creative ways to use those soft and hard skills as methods to elevating teachers and their roles in the school environment.
2) Student opportunities -- When focusing on school culture, student perceptions of the underpinnings of a school can positively and negatively influence everything from student behavior to teacher motivation. Create opportunities for student leadership and seek out unique ways to engage students in non-traditional roles. In one example, we utilized school data to create a service learning club that enhances students' social skills at the same time. We recruited students who needed the boost in social skills and peer interactions. The result was improved engagement in the school, improved social perception of these students by their peers and a genuine perception of school pride.
3) Professional Learning -- Give your Professional Learning Community meetings (PLCs) a reboot. Create a specific structure for PLCs with a weekly focus on various aspects of teaching and learning. Use your log of teacher strengths to provide opportunities for teachers who are particularly skilled with upcoming PLC topics to serve as discussion leaders. This is a great way to integrate the teacher leadership program with instructional leadership.
4) Community Engagement -- Go beyond traditional PTA activities and seek to engage members of the school community that are a diverse representation of skills, talents and activities. From creating a career day that celebrates community members to recruiting classroom volunteers to asking that creative parent to serve on an events committee, there are many ways to engage the school community.
Community perception is the underpinning of school marketing, school image and student enrollment.
Improving school culture is not finite activity. It's an ongoing process of utilizing and celebrating talents in a strategic way.
This blog is cross-listed on ASCD EDge.
For more information on how you can improve school culture, contact Jessica Bohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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My thoughts are my own, and do not necessarily represent the thoughts of any of my affiliations.