Great schools all have one thing in common: positive school culture. Dedicated teachers and compliant students isn’t enough to make a school great. Culture is everything. Management guru, Peter Drucker wrote, “Culture eats strategy for lunch”. A poor organizational culture will send your top teachers straight into the arms of another school. Here are five ways to create a strong, collaborative school culture.
- Don’t Mirco-Manage Teachers: Teachers need to be focused on one thing: their students. Too often, their focus is shifted from maximizing student achievement to compliance issues, paperwork, or other aspects that are not important or urgent. Furthermore, they will get email after email, memo after memo, reminding them to complete these tasks that will have no bearing on student achievement. Let them keep their focus on students. Trust in them that they know what their students need. After all, they are with them all day long.
- Look for Opportunities to Improve School Facilities: Never underestimate the impact that small changes to your school plant can make. Small changes that will have a significant impact, such as new paint on playground benches, planter barrels in front of each classroom, and fresh décor in the staff room. The walls of a classroom may go decades without being painted. If you can manage it, go for it. I’ve never seen a group of teachers as grateful as those on the day they found out their classrooms were being painted fresh.
- Bring in the Coffee Truck: In a time when everyone is pressed to find good coffee, why not bring in the coffee van and treat your staff to a free coffee. For those who don’t drink coffee, you may always offer hot chocolate or tea!
- Shared Decision Making: Nobody likes to be micromanaged from the top down. Teachers must be given leeway in making decisions for their students. Teachers are the ones who have their students all day, so they are the ones best equipped to make decisions regarding them. It’s an opportunity for the teachers to exercise their own judgement, not simply that of school leaders.
- Share Good News Stories With Your Community: Isn’t it amazing how news outlets dwell on the negative aspects of society? There’s always a story about crooked administration, embezzlement, and abuse cases… We have to insert some good news into our community’s collective consciousness.While we can’t always prevent what the local paper or new stations say, we can decide what we put out. It is critical that teachers utilize social media and websites to communicate their school’s daily accomplishments with their community. To tell the story of teachers’ hard work every day, create Twitter and Facebook accounts for them to post about it on a regular basis.
In summary, principals should concentrate on the school’s positive culture. They must have faith in their teachers and not micro manage them. Principals should focus their efforts on modest facility modifications. They should also use social media or websites to communicate good news stories with the rest of the community.