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School culture is a funny thing that we don’t talk about enough. It’s powerful and the better we build it, the better we educate our kids. But don’t put too much stock in school ratings to evaluate the success of school culture. These ratings are immensely misleading and are based on data rather than “feel” a school vibe or tone. Literally stand in a school and just feel how happy the staff and kids. This will tell you everything you need to know.
What are the basic cultures?
Here are 3 main cultural vibes you can sense when you spend some time in a school:
- Happy and healthy vibe: There is a sense of support, everyone being on the same page, a sense of belonging. You can sense this because people connect, smile, their shoulders are relaxed, they look peaceful.
- Suffocating vibe: People feel micromanaged, watched, monitored. It feels rigid. There isn’t a strong sense of trust or togetherness amongst staff. You can sense this in a school because there is an underlying sense of overwhelm, anxiousness and a tension in the air.
- Abandonment vibe: People feel alone, thrown to the sharks, unsupported and separate. You can sense this in a school because it feels disconnected and like no one is on the same page.
How can a school culture be optimized?
Great school culture does several things well:
- They empower staff to shine.
- They truly put students first.
- People feel completely safe questioning the rules in honor of doing what’s best for kids.
- People are valued and encouraged to build upon their personal strengths rather than to conform.
- The school holds a safe space for personal & professional growth and for service to kids.
- People feel emotionally safe to show up and be their best.
- People feel heard, they know their voice is important.
- People feel happy in the culture and are having fun!
- People feel like they matter.
- People can question the status quo and talk about anything. They can move forward!
- People are on the same page, they are clear about and believe in the school mission!
- Praise and gratitude. People value each other, they openly praise the wonderful efforts of everyone. People are noticed for what they contribute.
- Leadership actually leads rather than manages. There is a critical difference.
This video post was inspired by an awesome IEP meting that I went to recently where the school culture was incredibly supportive. Unfortunately, I don’t often feel this level of strength in schools I visit, but it’s not rocket science. We can change these cultures!
Teachers want to shine, they want to serve kids. So why do over 50% of all teachers in America leave the profession by year five?
Because of the culture. They don’t get what they need in order to serve their kids, and they burn out. Same old story, teachers often don’t have the money, resources, training, time or support they need, and it is utterly exhausting. A great culture can make all the difference.
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Hey everybody. What’s up? This is stuff of stuff Pro., I’m glad you’re here today. I want to take a quick look at school culture. What makes an awesome school culture. I am in a lot of schools for a lot of IEP 504 RTI meeting all kinds of things. So I get to a lot of different schools. I get to see and feel a lot of different School cultures and the second you walk into school. You can feel the culture today. I went to an IEP meeting and walked out of there and I was so impressed. I love it when I walk out of these meetings and I just feel so I just appreciate teachers so much and in the schools in the school culture, and I do think that 99% of X School culture is a top-down thing. Unfortunately where the principal really tends to set the tone for the culture tends to And in this case is just great people who really provided a great environment for teachers could feel like they can be their best which is what teachers want to do. They want to be empowered. They want to feel like they can really shine they want to serve kids. So and of course as you know, the teachers often will get burnout. In fact over 50% of all teachers hit by year five. That’s an extraordinary way high percentage of people getting burned out and leaving the profession that we need in there to serve our kids how many I’m going to talk a little bit about school culture and some of the things that I see in schools that schools are doing right to make the school culture of positive awesome place. So first of all, I see they’re sort of these three basic different vibe set that the culture tends to provide. First of all, they can have this happy Vibe were people you can tell that the teachers feel happy at peace safe. They feel like they belong there part of this this place. Then you can see these other schools were people seem to feel very overwhelmed and suffocated. They feel like they’re being watched too much monitor too much. It’s too stringent to type too much too restrictive and they just feel like there’s a lot of pressure you can see that and then there is the other type where people feel like they’ve been thrown to the sharks that let go there abandoned their neglected. There is just like going to go do your job. You may not have the resources the time the money whatever to be at the teacher you want to be a go figure it out. So they’re sort of these three One that very healthy one that can feel very stifling and suffocating and tight and rigid and one that feels too loose and let go and and like it you’re not even noticed. Okay. So these are the three Basics that I see now some of the things that that I see at schools that have a great culture again, right when I walk into school. I can feel what the culture is like and you can tell there’s some schools that really put kids first. That means that the teachers are free to have real conversations. They don’t have to just follow the rules. They can say wait. This world doesn’t fit this kid or this world doesn’t fit my class in this case and they’re able to openly expressed that they’re able to think for them self and think what is best for this kid. Not just follow the rules with blinders on and say okay. This is how we do it. This is how we’ve always done it. So this is the way I will do it. To question the rules and and think to put the put the kids first. Also a great school culture is a place that really holds the space for people and the rest of this is going to talk a lot about how we hold a space but it holds a space where people can feel safe where people can feel like they can shine where people can feel like they can serve his and where kids feel like they can shine and they can grow. How do we do that? Well in order to hold a space people have to feel emotionally safe. The teachers must feel emotionally safe. Like they can be who they are. They can use their strengths to serve kid. They can say what they think they are safe. They’re not going to be Sean. They’re not going to be put down there not going to be stifled by Administration people will Empower them to feel sick now when the teachers and Staff feel safe emotionally safe. Guess what the kid that I feel more emotionally safe the teachers can then hold a space for the kids to feel safe. Like they can be themselves and express. People need to their needs to be spaced held where people can feel heard that’s supposed to be a diagram of the human ear. I know I know you’re impressed. I know I know that diagram there. So people need to feel heard. They need to feel like it’s important to be heard. They need to feel like the administration will listen to them not criticize them not try to make them conform but that they will actually listen and hear and that they care about what people say so they have to hold a space that people feel emotionally safe that they can feel like they’re heard these healthy cultures also are places where the teachers are happy and they’re having fun. You see the staff laugh together talk together support each other. There’s some schools. I walk into in there such a seriousness about the staff and just as ripping this gripping as you can walk into a school and see a go go ahead and walk into a couple schools in the notice if I see people just kind of like they’re uncomfortable will win the staff looks uncomfortable. How do you think the kids feel but when the teachers are having fun in their happy and they feel like they’re in again the using the word a place where they belong where they matter where they’re heard where they’re emotionally safe. These happy people. They can really help the kids feel happier and have the kids help the kids have more fun. Able to question old systems in in a great school culture again people can feel heard they feel like they can speak they can question the old systems for example letter grade teachers can talk openly about whether or not they even agree with letter grades or should they have portfolio system or should they use rubrics or none of the above? Should they develop a new system that meets the needs they can actually have these discussions. We can talk about standardized tests and the opt-out movements and they can openly talk about how they feel about standardized tests. Now, it’s affecting them and how it’s affecting the kids a lot of schools that people don’t feel safe to talk about the old system. They just feel like okay. This is the way it is. I can’t question it. I just have to comply with the way the situation is regardless of how my heart feels about this stuff. So you want people to be able to question and have dialogue in the school culture. Is there free Going to do that one last. Schools that where we’re really has that feel of safety and holding space and people happy. There’s also clarity about the school culture people know what the mission is. I’ve been in several schools that don’t even know what their mission is and I won the first things that I do it when I’m researching a school for a family that I work with is I look up the school mission last week. I actually called the school because I was looking at some parents are trying to decide what school to send the child to and I asked about the mission and the person on the phone wasn’t even aware of the web page. I was talking about that said the mission I was baffled help him this person not even know what the mission is, but the sad thing is is that this is not uncommon schools off and don’t even stopped off and doesn’t even know what the mission is the principal the administration to leadership doesn’t talk about the mission. It’s it’s not really important. They’re so concerned about Scores and data and testing and looking good and getting budget things and whatever their minds are are consumed with their not consumed with they get they lose sight of this is how the school decided to serve kid based on these principles and that they kind of forget about it. So bad the schools that are really strong that there is Clarity people seem to be on the same page whether or not they can even articulate the mission perfectly. There was a Vibe where you can tell people are on the same page but culture is established. Is that safety is there Finally in these places where people are happy. They’re having fun. There is space health for people to be free to be who they are to shine to bring their best to serve kids. There is a culture of praise. The teachers are praising the kid the parents are praising the teachers the teachers are Paisley parents. They feel like they’re on the same team consequently in schools were the culture is not good. There is like this budding like like parents and teachers don’t feel like they’re on the same team. But when I go into schools that are really healthy like you can tell people feel like they’re on the same team. The principals are openly praising teachers not I’m not talking about 5, I’m talking about people who are noticing the hard work heart the effort that goes into what it takes to educate our kids people are. Praising people are complimenting people are noticing the positive energy is taken to to focus on what’s good. What’s growth with positive in these places. So anyhow, that’s part of my Spiel on on what creates a great school culture. This is not scientific or anything. These are just things that I see a lot and some things I really wanted to share because to me it’s not rocket science. I think the leadership has to lead not manage. Lead and when the leadership leads and provides a safe place for people to grow and serve kids then people can really have an awesome culture. I hope you have an awesome week. I will see you soon. And if you like what I’m doing, please subscribe right here in the YouTube channel, and if you like this video, please share it with somebody you care about you off.