The idea that “culture eats strategy for lunch”, is a quote most often attributed to Peter Drucker and has spurred plenty of conversation about the importance of culture in any organization. Within the educational context, it’s quite simple. A commitment to a culture of continuous improvement determines the success of student learning.
Schools that embrace this commitment have the following attributes:
1. Everyone shares collective responsibility for the success of all students served by the school, particularly the newest teachers.
2. Leaders are models and advocates for learning. They show the learning community their commitment to life long learning every day.
3. Data drives improvement and decision making at every level.
4. Professional learning is grounded in evidence; aligned to individual, team, and system goals; driven by protocols, and personalized.
5. Educators have immediate access to classroom-based support virtually and on site at all times.
Creating a healthy school culture is a vital part of the work that educators must do if students are going to achieve at high levels. Teachers matter, and what they DO matters most.
How has the importance of school culture played out in your world?
The New York Times recently reported an all time low in teacher morale. The article refers to perceptions of teacher worth and effectiveness. Change fatigue, increased levels of accountability and tight budgets also play a major role in teacher job dissatisfaction.
Last year, when faced with many of these same issues, I felt it was important to communicate and cultivate the notion of team support. I continued to ask my staff what I could do to support them. More often than not, they just wanted me to listen to their challenges, recognize their hard work and celebrate their successes. I expanded our Renaissance outreach to staff, sent more personal notes, emails, public recognition in staff and board meetings and additional treats in the staff lounge. It’s the little things that add up over time.
Additional morale strategies include:
- Creating an incredible Teacher Appreciation Week (get your PTO involved). May 5-9, 2014.
- Have a pot luck at least once a month.
- Have admin. cook breakfast for staff.
- Have teachers model their successful teaching strategies at staff meetings and board meetings.
- Always SUPPORT your teachers when parents complain about them.
- Provide ample, valuable and meaningful professional development. This is a critical budget line to protect.
- Follow through with promises to teachers.
- Have a team “ropes course” adventure at the beginning of the year.
- Encourage your teachers to come to you with their concerns with an open door policy.
- Be the example! Model a positive, healthy and enthusiastic attitude.
There are times when I’ve needed my own cheerleader (My PLN has been invaluable). Persevere! Continue to show teachers they are making a difference.