School Culture – How You Can Change the Culture and Attitudes of Your Classroom
Having a strong school culture has a tremendous impact on the attitudes of teachers and students, not only on your own attitudes, but also on the whole learning experience. As a school administrator, you have a key role in developing a positive school culture. In fact, you are a critical part in the school’s cultural activities and events. So how do you go about creating a school culture? There are several approaches that you can take. Some of the more popular ones include:
A strong school culture is shaped by the leaders you choose to be a part of your school community. Your leaders should embrace your school culture and beliefs. Be aware, however, that some leaders may find it expedient to promote their own beliefs and promote a distinctly “my way” approach to discipline. This is unhealthy for the school and for everyone. Your leaders should clearly define the school’s goals and help guide the culture in this direction.
A school culture is comprised of attitudes and beliefs, which can be difficult to change if your school culture and environment remains consistently unpleasant to you. However, there are ways to subtly influence people’s attitudes and behaviors. A good way to start changing attitudes is to offer open dialogue within your organization. Ask open-ended questions to your school staff and visit with them regularly.
The next step you can take to shape your school culture is to provide opportunities for students to participate in professional development. Students who participate in professional development programs understand why they need to take pride in their work, as well as what their professional goals are. This creates a culture where professionals want to work together rather than compete with one another. Professional development allows students to be self-active participants in their environment. You can even encourage these same students to become teachers or mentors.
A second step to developing a positive school culture is to have open communication within your classroom. This means allowing each teacher the space to voice their opinions and discuss their students’ performance. In a negative classroom, teachers feel the freedom to “flame” those who do not perform well. However, in a positive school culture, all teachers are encouraged to be frank and supportive of one another.
Finally, you can begin to change attitudes and behaviors by making it clear that your beliefs and practices are contrary to the negative stereotypes you may have observed in the past. For example, if your school culture has been built around a single minded focus on test scores, then it will be difficult for you to change the attitude of your students towards school. However, if you start out by creating a safe place for learning and sharing, then your students will be more likely to be open to learning new ideas. In addition, it is important to recognize and praise the efforts of your school staff. This will show your students that their hard work is being noticed.