A change in the school culture takes time. It is definitely not improved overnight or even within a couple of school years. Often times the school culture can fall apart and turn negative much quicker than it can be built. As educators we need to be able to be the leaders for the students. We don't want the students to be negative, condescending, defiant, disrespectful, or feel like they are above the rules; thus, the same rules apply to the faculty and staff of the school.
1. Build Positive Relationships:
The students feed off of the faculty and staff. If you greet the students with smiles, high fives, do check-ins on how they are feeling every morning, it goes a long way. It creates a school culture that is warm, accepting, and loving. The students will be excited to come to school because they want to see their teachers, counselor, and principals! Building a positive relationship with the students not only improve the school culture, but the students will work harder. If the students like you, they are more likely to do what is asked of them, maybe with some scaffolding, but they won't be very resistant. This will ultimately not only improve the school culture but the culture in the classroom too. The same goes for adults, if you like someone, you're going to work harder for/with them.
2. High Expectations:
If you place high expectations on each other, then you are going to have a more successful team. When everyone is working hard and is held to a higher standard, it is a natural motivator. Nobody wants to look like the lazy co-worker. People thrive when being pushed to reach their full potential as an educator. Don't get me wrong, it can be stressful and difficult, to feel like you have to perform at 100% everyday, but it is a game changer for productivity and the culture of the school. I know for me the harder I see my counseling co-workers work, the more I want to help them and my students. There is an accountability for your team that goes with high expectations. If you're finding your school has a low morale, you may be the change that is needed at the school. Come up with some ideas on how to hold the co-workers accountable and your students! It is important that everyone knows that what they do, say, and how they work matters.
3. Pump Up Your Co-workers:
We have all been around a co-worker that is horribly negative and will complain about anything. As a result, it creates toxic thoughts in your head and the people around you. Well, in order to combat negativity, positivity needs to be present. At my old job, we had this thing called "Snaps." If you caught a co-worker doing something kind, witnessed a job well done, they helped you, etc. (the possibility are endless) you fill out a slip with their name and what they did. The slip was placed in a box and a couple of people typed the message up and delivered them with candy for their good work. It was such a small act of kindness but it was a great morale boost for the employees to be recognized for their hard work. If that seems like it could be too much work, compliments go a long way! This goes for students and teachers. Everyone likes to be told when they are doing good, words are powerful. Compliments make people want to work harder.
4. Follow Through:
At the beginning of the school year the rules are strictly reinforced. As the school year goes on the staff sometimes becomes more relaxed with the rules. All educators have been exhausted and are tried to pick their battles with their students. However; it is important that the rules that are being put in place for students at the start of the school year, stay the entire year. Without follow through of the rules, the students start to take control of the school, yikes!
Also, if you are a counselor and you tell a student that you are going to follow-up with them, DO IT. When you don't follow through it shows the student that you don't stay true to your word and breaks trust. It is our job to keep a good relationship and guide the students, so breaking promises or appointments can be harmful.