Building a Popular Culture at School

24 May

 

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As I progress through my NAPP year I am continually thinking about school culture. For school leaders, defining a school’s culture – the core values, practices and organizational structures – is a necessity. In fact, a school’s ability to improve performance depends on it. But fostering a performance-based culture is not something that can be completed and checked off a single to-do list; it is an ongoing. It is a process like so many thing I am reflecting on currently.

How do schools accomplish this? It’s all about objectives. High-performing schools intentionally create culture by introducing clear cultural expectations, and holding staff and students accountable to these core values. When clear expectations for behavior are established and reinforced – while allowing room for reflection and adjustments to these standards – a growth-minded, results-driven environment can be achieved

When setting expectations, clear communication is key. This is an issue that comes up constantly in my blogs recently. High-performing school leaders are effective in messaging that school is a place with specific standards that enable both staff and students to thrive. I often share the following example with school leaders and find that it resonates – unlike an elevator or a place of worship, where there are unspoken norms for behavior, new schools and existing schools that aim to rebuild their culture need expectations to be stated explicitly.

These values are upheld through established cultural elements that are consistent and visible from classroom to classroom. Such elements often include instituting a identifying one positive behaviors or mega-cognitive skill per month to highlight across the school, drafting guidelines on issuing rewards and consequences for student behavior and establishing school routines and rituals.

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