Where do you start? Just thinking about school culture can be overwhelming. Even understanding what makes up school culture can leave your head spinning.

But really, school culture starts with you – the leader.

So again, where do you start?

Start with what you are NOT going to change. By recognizing the rituals, beliefs, boundaries and standards that are successful within your school community, you are sending the message that you are not trying to fix things, that things aren’t broken. But rather that you are trying to make improvements and elevate your community to reach their full potential. Acknowledging what is working is a compliment to everyone who is involved and shows gratitude.

Next is to bridge the gap with actions. This means that although words can share a message, actions are what result in real change. And those actions start with school leaders. Are you communicating to the masses rather than connecting personally? Are you mirroring the attitude and characteristics that you want fellow educators and students to display? You cannot expect others to be invested in the change if you are not demonstrating with actions yourself.

Arm yourself with tools that will simplify the transition while addressing different issues/obstacles. Your tool box needs to help you communicate (be it a conversation, not just announcements) while engaging and inspiring your school community of their own. Simple but effective activities, instruction and opportunities puts the authority into the hands of all members of your community, which allows you to provide guidance and recognition when positive change happens.

Show you value everyone’s role. Douglas Reeves shares “When the school leader puts down the briefcase and picks up a stack of trays in the cafeteria or a pile of writing portfolios for personal review, then everyone knows that the leader takes every job in the school seriously.” Everyone will be more supportive of your efforts and more patient with the process if they see that you acknowledge the contributions by every member of your school community.

Keeping these four approaches top-of-mind and in the forefront will help you set a strong base to build an intentional school climate.

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