4 Essential Components of a Positive School Culture
Everybody wants to have a fun, positive culture. You can implement all the strategies you want, but at the end of the day, a strong culture trumps strategy. Culture enables teams to work more efficiently and produce higher quality results.
But building a desirable culture is easier said than done. Cultures can form naturally on their own and, without proper guidance, won’t reflect the values you want to propagate. Luckily, leaders can control the type of culture on their campus. Check out these four best practices to create and maintain your own thriving campus culture.
First thing’s first: What kind of culture do you want? You have to define your mission, vision, and values very clearly from the start to create your ideal culture. After all, how can you spread cultural values if you don’t know what they are? Let your educators, administrators, and learners know what your campus stands for and its mission. Or, better yet, work with your stakeholders to define your mission–you’ll be stronger with input from your community.
Define a mission statement and include it on your email signature or before meetings. Proudly display it in classrooms or in common areas so everyone knows your campus values. You could also recite the mission statement before meetings or share stories of how someone exemplifies your mission.
Defining a mission statement and your values won’t magically create the culture you want to see. After defining your mission, it’s time to act on it. Reinforce your values through communication. If you value feedback and honesty, show it through your own communication. Make room for this communication in your campus procedures. For example, if you want to value clarity, include time during staff meetings for educators to ask clarifying questions.
The clearer your communications, the better your team will understand your cultural values.
People learn by example, especially when it comes to cultural norms. What does your behavior tell your team? Are you exemplifying the culture you want to create? More often than not, leaders don’t realize their behavior is contrary to reinforcing a positive culture. For example, if you want to have a culture that values timeliness, are you showing up early to meetings and ending them on time? Or are you always late and going over time? Leaders are under a lot of pressure and it’s not easy to lead–but modeling these positive behaviors is crucial to show your team it’s the norm.
How do you know that the culture you’ve created is the one that you actually, well, want? It’s important to always test the waters. Reassess your culture regularly: compare your current culture against your ideal culture. If you want a feedback-oriented culture, practice affirming those to provide feedback to you, even when it might hurt. If you want a student-centered culture, think about how often your team pushes for test scores over individual student growth and Life-Ready skills.
We often don’t think about reassessing our culture; we tend to think of culture as something that exists on its own. In reality, leaders have a lot of power to shape the culture they want to see. Create a positive culture in your school to reap benefits like committed, happy stakeholders, improved test scores, and successful student outcomes.