“Create your school culture” is common advice that administrators receive on social media, in blog posts, in academic journals and beyond.
But, the quandary with the phrase, “create your school culture” is that it creates assumptions. Assumptions, like:
- A school culture does not exist until you say it does.
- You can create school culture yourself.
- The end result is a finished product.
The fact is that none of the assumptions above will bring sustainability or excellence to an organization’s culture.
We have to shift our thinking to understand:
- A school’s culture is always existent. But, that does not necessarily mean that the culture is positive or in sync.
- It takes the efforts of every single person in the school to build a school culture that prospers.
- School culture is not an end result, it is something we have to work at every second of every day
School culture is the daily interactions– seen or unseen, the values among people– shared or unshared, and patterns of behavior. Moreover, the school culture is its people.
As leaders and educators, we each have to take personal accountability for the energy we bring to the spaces we occupy: Hallways, classrooms, and every inch of our building. Our values and actions have to match up in order for our culture to flourish. Whether we realize it or not, we each are currently setting either a positive or negative tone in our building- And our people are taking notice.
In the book, “How to Create a Culture of Achievement in Your School and Classroom” by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Ian Pumpian ask this question:
“Can our school be so welcoming, so inviting, and so comfortable that every person who walks through our doors believe that they are about to have an amazing experience?”
What if we all asked this question constantly?
What if we all LIVED by this question?
In order to build a welcoming space, it will begin with each of us having conversations with one another to change the paradigm behind the language and meaning of school culture: How do we view it? What does it mean to us? How do we value it? What do we do about it?
Shaping a positive school culture takes time, consistency, and unity. At the heart of any positive culture is a desire to move collectively towards the future and giving one another grace for mistakes made.
In closing, as Henry Ford says, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”