24 Apr
Positive School Culture Begins with YOU!

Did you say the Principal?  What about teachers/staff?  Parents? Superintendent?

Culture has become the new buzzword in education as we seek to create schools where students and adults feel safe to take risks.  We know that in order to solve new challenges, we need to encourage everyone to take on a new mindset where we are free of labels and the limitations that come with these classifications.

Pick up any book or read any article related to school culture you’ll most likely read that culture begins with the school leader or principal.  While I believe there is truth to this statement, I also believe that by placing the responsibility of culture solely on the principal, we are not encouraging action on the part of others who occupy our schools and organizations.

The role of the principal has changed as it relates to creating schools that are successful.  If we are going to create a positive school culture where everyone thrives, principals can no longer be seen as the all-knowing and all-powerful.  In fact, the most important job of the principal is to inspire leadership and action in others.

This idea that the principal is solely responsible for everything that happens in schools cultivates an environment of blamers and complainers as teachers, staff, and families wait for the principal to solve problems or address issues that could be resolved by others if only they viewed themselves as leaders.

The Energy Bus for Schools Leadership Journey defines leadership as a mindset, a belief that leadership extends beyond a role or a title.  We believe that that everyone (students, teachers, staff, and families) has the ability to make choices and therefore can enact change no matter what position they hold in the organization, and isn’t this what true leadership is all about?

So many times in our schools, we place the responsibility of creating positive culture, student success, adult accomplishments, safety, discipline, instructional practices, staff recognition, parent involvement, and the millions of other things that happen in our schools on the principal, without ever thinking that this thought process crimples all members of the community.  Think of it this way, if I’m a student and the belief is that my learning or success is the responsibility of my teacher, why would I be compelled to to do anything different?  With this mindset, there is no responsibility.  On the other hand, if I believe that my success is a result of my actions, I now feel empowered to make the necessary changes to transform my outcomes.  This is why the first principle of The Energy Bus for Schools Leadership Journey is You’re the Driver of Your Bus.  This first principle identifies who is responsible for creating the life of your dreams.

If we are going to create and sustain positive school culture, we must be willing to embrace the idea that positive culture is not just the principal’s responsibility – it’s everyone’s responsibility!

So, if we were going to complete this sentence successfully, Culture begins with_______.   We must first generate a call to action for everyone who makes up the organization, I would simply say that culture begins with YOU!    Instead of waiting on your principal to provide support – think, what can I do for myself?  Instead of blaming parents for a students lack of learning- think, what can I do to inspire discovery?  Instead of blaming teachers for your child’s lack of success- think, what can I do to support learning at home?  Or better yet think, what is my child’s responsibility in his/her outcomes?

I believe that by inspiring everyone in the school to embrace leadership and take ownership for what is happening (or not happening in our schools), we are setting the expectation that positive school culture is not one person’s responsibility, it’s everyone’s responsibility!