There’s no doubt that principals have a tough job on their hands. But in many cases, administration and policies often win out over building a better school culture, relationships or positive environments for teachers. In a school setting, where children are developing and learning to be better people, it’s more important than ever for their situation to be uplifting, positive, and friendly. That kind of change has to come from the top.
What can principles do to make their schools have better culture?
There are plenty of options out there, all of which take a little time and leadership to kick-start.
For these plans to succeed, principals and administration must be:
- Invested in changing the culture and improving it internally
- Willing to reinforce the positive as well as the negative
- Actively involved in building relationships with teachers and staff
Once those foundations are in place, we can start to make some real change in the culture of schools. Providing teachers with a better place to work, and students with a better place to learn. Here are just three ways that principals and actively promote and build a better culture:
Broadcast the positivity you want to see
According to Ebony Bridwell-Mitchell, an expert in leadership in education, one of the keys to improving a school’s culture is by broadcasting the messages and behavior you’d like to see in your facility. This could mean reinforcing a positive culture through your attitude in meetings and communications, or focusing on positives and achievements when it comes to working with or talking to students.
By showing leadership that is positive and on-message, improving a school’s culture and attitudes is easier than you might think. Communication is key to this process, so principals shouldn’t be afraid to practice what they preach both with other staff and with the broader public as a whole. By setting a positive influence in leadership, it’s easy for others to follow in those footsteps and to uplift your school’s culture as a whole.
Encourage achievement and appreciation
In many schools, the primary focus is on doing well in only one form. Standardized testing. While good grades are, of course, required and should be celebrated, taking a look at the wider picture can quickly show just how toxic only rewarding one form of achievement can be. For students, appreciation should be for anything from achieving positive actions in the community to understanding a particularly tricky subject. By widening your scope for achievement, it’s possible to improve the culture of your school effortlessly.
But as a principal, it’s not just the students you should be worrying about. Encouraging and appreciating your teachers is vitally important to promoting a positive workplace. Whether it’s encouraging thinking outside the box for lesson planning or rewarding extra effort, stepping away from the statistics and focusing on less tangible achievements can be excellent for your school in the long run.
Enforce better policies and employee support
We know budgets are tight. But offering the bare minimum to your teachers, who perform in a stressful career day-in-day-out isn’t enough to promote a positive culture. Whether it’s providing your hard-working educators with a gift card each month for coffee, or providing them with excellent healthcare, going the extra mile can be a fantastic way to lift your culture. For motivated, positive teachers, knowing they are supported is the greatest gift of all.
It’s also important to note that mental health is a bit part of providing ample support, too. Burnout is a big deal for teachers, on par with nurses in the ER. Offering counseling, the opportunity for self-care or even mental health days, if needed, can make all the difference. A better school culture is one where your teachers feel you have their back when they need it.
What ways do you think your principal could help transform the culture in your school? If you liked this article, please share!