Positive school culture is driven from the top. And while it is not always a conscious nor deliberate plan, for educational institutions culture is a true game changer. When it comes to providing optimal educational experiences, it is essential the school leadership team adopt a conscious and active approach to school culture in order that students are provided with the biggest and best opportunities available.
John Qunicy-Adams, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Culture creates the context which forms the basis of our interactions. Brian Chesky, co-founder of Airbnb said it best “Culture is a shared way of doing something with a passion.”
For educational institutions, this means that the feel, the vibe, the often unmeasurable is more important than most of the ‘hoops of accountability’ educators are required to jump through. Unfortunately, though, creating a positive culture isn’t something school leaders are taught when they first entered the teaching profession.
There is however, good news. Creating a positive school culture in your institution is easy, when you know how. A few simple measures will contribute towards a culture of success which will have students going beyond striving to thriving in their place of learning:
Collaboration: The strength of an educational institution lies firmly in the diversity of its parts but it also celebrates all that they bring. Their interests, insights and unique understandings. Leaders who value and encourage the efforts of their staff and students help them to to be enthusiastic about the work they produce. In turn this creates a willingness to give that extra piece of effort that creates excellence.
Understanding: An understanding of the unique aspects of your particular setting combined with a knowledge of the individuals who make up the weave in the fabric of your organisation. Leaders who know each person as an individual model the importance of investing in relationships. This flows on to the work happening every day in every learning space.
Leadership: But more specifically visible leadership. It is one thing to be decisive, to set the course, however effectively communicating that plan to the community is where the rubber hits the road.
Trust: Teachers and students who trust in their place of learning know that their inputs are valued. They know that they are contributing towards something that is bigger than themselves alone. Leaders who empower individuals to make decisions, as well as rebuild from setbacks, encourage a culture of trust.
Andrew Mason, founder of Groupon knows this idea well “Hire great people and give them the freedom to be awesome.”
Universal: Consistent, uniform transparency is essential when it comes to building a culture all can invest in. Nothing shouts louder, when it comes to creation of culture, than the Principal who abides by the expectations set across the entire institution.
Relationships: Shifts in culture occur when everyone feels a part of creating that change. When all is said and done, the success of a school lies wholly and solely in the lap of two groups of people. The staff and the students. The old adage “A child does not care what you know, until they know you care” rings true. When staff and students work together towards a greater purpose, true magic occurs.
Evolving: Learning environments are dynamic, constantly reforming and reshaping. Truly effective culture needs to move with these changes. What worked a few years ago may not be what is needed now and effective leaders assist this evolution.
Schools who shape their culture to align with their intended outcomes enjoy exceptional results and creating positive school culture is a true game changer for everyone.
Educator Impact gives Leaders and Teachers the ability to recognise the success of others, to help build a culture of trust through constructive, meaningful 360 feedback.
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Tim Heinecke works with schools, school leadership teams and students to create greater engagement as the Director of the Student Engagement Institute.