How to Improve School Culture

Dec 20, 2023
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School culture has been a hot topic among many district leaders in recent years. You probably have participated in many of these conversations and may have even taken a hard look at what your culture looks like. A school’s culture is important for increased teacher retention and satisfaction. It encourages students who are eager and ready to learn and helps administrators spend less time on paperwork and more time on learning.

Many suggested ways to improve school culture require resources, like time and money, which your district may not have. But, improving your school culture doesn’t have to take hours of time and an unlimited money supply. Here are four simple steps to improve your culture that you can take right now:

1. Provide autonomy for staff and students

Many teachers become discouraged or even leave the profession when they feel like they can’t make decisions for themselves. Provide autonomy (when appropriate) to teachers to help them feel like they have power in the decision-making process. Teachers only want the best for their students, so give them the power to do what’s right for their class!

2. Open up teacher dialogue

Most district leaders don’t have the time to really experience what goes on in the school building every day. Short of cloning yourself, be sure to engage with teachers and open up an honest dialogue about what goes on in your school. Teachers are on the frontlines of what happens every day. Opening up yourself to these conversations could result in some criticism, but it’s important for growth and change in your culture.

3. Shift the distribution of power

This is slightly different from giving teachers more autonomy. Teachers and students will feel more in control of their teaching and learning if they’re given choices. Give your students and teachers a say in certain matters—they will feel more personal ownership over decisions that they had a role in. Consider creating committees of each group and let them make some choices when it comes to curriculum, activities, and policies.

4. Promote teamwork

Your district is nothing without its staff. Make it clear that you are on the same team as your colleagues and their students. Remember that you are working together for a common goal: improvement of your school and district as a whole. After all, teamwork makes the dream work.

Looking for more resources on how to transform your school culture? Check out these ten essential skills every superintendent needs!

This post was originally published September 2018 by Brita Hammer and has been updated.

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