One of the hardest challenges that modern schools face is trying to promote a positive culture. Of course there are a multitude of factors which can have an impact on your school’s culture, so to help with this (at-times) stressful and confusing process we’ve identified some of the key features of a positive school culture. The main factors that we’ve identified are:
1) Having clear goals and expectations for all stakeholders
Students need to know what is expected of them in the classroom in regard to behaviour and conduct. They also need to have clear goals for both their academic achievement and their home learning. Teachers also need to be clear on what it is they’re working towards, whether that’s to do with helping students achieve certain grades, or how much homework they should be setting. The school should also be setting some limited goals for parents, as high levels of parental engagement in the learning process can really help to build a more inclusive community within the school.
Overall, the key thing here is making sure everyone knows what is expected of them, which you can do by outlining key goals and expectations in your school’s improvement plan. This helps to engender stability and security, contributing to a more positive school culture.
2) Recognising and encouraging positive actions via praise
Recognition of achievement and effort is a powerful tool for keeping people motivated, especially in a school setting. Providing students with effective and meaningful praise based on effort, behaviour and achievement, makes them feel valued and motivated in their studies.
Praise should also be given for teachers as well as students, as teachers’ levels of morale and motivation are crucial to helping build a positive culture within the school.
Giving kudos helps to make the school culture more supportive, a key factor in times when teacher retention rates are low, and many feel they do not have the support required to do the job effectively.
3) Clear promotion of both core values and mutual respect
In order to have a positive school culture, it is important to make sure that your school’s ethos and shared values are communicated clearly, with one of these core values being that of mutual respect. If teachers and students have little mutual respect, or even worse a lack of mutual respect between any stakeholders, then this can be really harmful for the schools culture. Everyone wants to feel valued and respected, the importance of this should be relayed to everyone within the school including parents. This is paramount in helping to build a positive culture within the school.
4) Open and transparent communication
This really is the foundation of a positive school culture as clear communication is essential for making sure that teachers, students and parents are aware of what is expected of each of them, what their role is within the education process and how they can help to build a more supportive community. There must also be an opportunity for teachers and students to give feedback, voice concerns and share ideas. The communication within schools must be a two-way process, and everyone needs to feel like their voice is heard, regardless of their role within the school. In many ways, this is central to creating a positive school culture as the process needs to be collaborative, and teachers, students and parents alike must be able to have their voices heard to achieve this.