Improving School Culture

Improving School Culture

School culture was brought up in an Instagram live I did last week and I decided to address it in a blog post because it is a pretty big topic.

First, you have to accept that you singlehandedly can not change the culture of your school. That doesn't mean it's hopeless, you just can't do it by yourself. Instead, you can connect with a few people and together you can work to make an impact. 

Second, you need to know when it is time to cut ties. I think the biggest cultural shift happened when my school was adopted into a larger county-wide program. This adoption gave us new resources and the staffing we needed. We couldn't have survived if this change did not happen. 

So if you have the resources and staffing, but the culture is not there, you definitely have something to work with. However, if you are understaffed and underresourced with NO sign of improvement, it might be best to cut ties.

Now to get to how my school improved its culture (by, like, a lot)

My building started doing three really great things- we created a sunshine committee that focuses specifically on staff morale. They organize staff potlucks, create staff shoutouts, maintain "staff love" bulletin boards, and walk around with a sunshine cart once a month. This sunshine cart is the star of the show- it has all types of goodies on it just for teachers. This cart is funded by our school and a church group that sponsors our school. 

My school also started doing Monday Morning Celebrations. These celebrations are a whole school get-together every Monday morning and we do announcements, the social skill of the week, staff and student shoutouts, and the school pledge. This has boosted morale a ton because we all leave the celebration feeling like a community. 

Third, we started hanging out outside of work. We get to know each other so well on the staff excursions. This makes it so much easier to work with people when you see them as humans, with their worries, joys, families, and hobbies. We mainly go to bars on Fridays, however, we have done staff bowling and golf and we are planning a go-kart event this Spring.

If your school is underresourced and understaffed, if people don't like the work they are doing and the culture is miserable it may be time for you to find a different placement. This problem might be too big for one person or a small group of people to solve. That will be up to you.

However, in my case, I stuck with it. Even though we were underresourced and understaffed we enjoyed the work we were doing and we all felt like we were making a difference. Even though staff morale was low we still had hope in our hearts and that encouraged me to stay. I am so glad I did. 

So to review- 

1.) You can't do it alone, find a few people

2.) Know when to cut ties- if you are miserable, other people are miserable, you are underresourced and understaffed with no hope of change- you might want to walk away

3.) We changed the culture by focusing on school community activities, staff morale, and staff connection.

I hope that this helps and if you have any questions please feel free to message me on Instagram at Teaching_to_a_riot! 

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