Any good leader understands the role of creating an environment where all involved feel safe, engaged, and motivated to do their best work. When looking at some of the most productive schools, good leaders have positive school cultures that allow these conditions to be cultivated to create a meaningful and empowered learning environment. Leaders cannot neglect the importance of creating a positive school culture which will drive the success of the school building. School culture is staple in all schools, the dynamics of school culture may vary but it is commonly understood that culture plays a critical role in the success of schools. According to Brad Kuntz, school culture includes the traditions of the school, what and how the school celebrates, and what is accepted by the majority as the norm. (Kuntz, 2012) Understanding how school culture works and the importance of this dynamic, allows leaders to address the issue of creating a positive school culture. The question that all leaders have to answer deals with what elements go into creating such a culture.
When looking to create school culture, leaders must make sure that the approaches they seek to employ are focused around the student, the main stakeholder in education. Kuntz argues that teaches must put positive choices before students. Essentially, it means that all of the decisions we make as leaders should be to create positive outcomes for the students we serve. One can consider their personal mission and vision statement or core values that guide their leadership as a way to provide positive choices before students. Most leaders have craft mission and vision statements around always keeping the student first or doing what is best for the student. By keeping these ideas in the forefront of our thinking, leaders can ensure that they decisions and habits they are creating allow for positive choices for students. Additionally, in positive school cultures there is an element of service not only displayed by the students but provided by school. Students when given and provided opportunities to engage in service, allows for positive school culture to be cultivated because it increases ownership for the will-being of everyone involved. Students in a positive school culture thrive in service opportunities and positive and productive outcomes come when this condition is embedded within the school culture.
Another critical element in creating a positive school culture is establishing the mindset that everyone within the school is critical to success of the school and that everyone is in the battle together. In a positive school culture everyone feels that they understand their roles but also that they can help others within the school community to reach their goals. For example, creating an environment where there is a mindset of being a servant and helping people for the common good of the school. Students can mentor other students both behaviorally and academically. Students can work together on community service projects that directly impact their school environment.
When looking to create a positive school culture, leaders must consider student centered approaches that help students feel welcomed and motivated within the environments. A positive school culture increases ownership for the will-being of everyone involved and establishes the mindset that everyone within the school is important and everyone is together. Creating these conditions leads to a positive school culture that helps to establish an environment that is safe, engaging, and motivating. It is with these characteristics that all stakeholders can produce their best work.
Kuntz, B. (2012). Create a Positive School Culture. ASCD Community.