There’s been an awful lot of ink spilled on the benefits of building a positive school culture—and just as much on the importance of nurturing positive relationships with students. All that ink leads me to the conclusion that these things are important to educators.
But if building better relationships and creating positive schools matters to us, why aren’t more schools positive places?
According to Jon Gordon, author of The Positive School Manifesto, the answer is simple: Building a culture of care is hard work. Not only that, it requires a special breed of leadership—the kind that’s determined and passionate enough to make positivity contagious.
Learning to Drive the Bus: 5 Ways to Build a Positive School Culture
Positive leaders required
Positive school cultures are created by principals who make the health of their organization a priority, lead the initiative, and are engaged in the process—even when it’s a struggle. Many of us start off with good intentions, but find it difficult to remain positive in the face of resistance and skepticism. Do not tolerate negativity! Weed it out and press on.
Build a positive leadership team
While principals can certainly be the spark for creating positive energy, they’ll need teachers and staff to fan and carry the flame. Invite your leadership team on the bus by setting up a workshop where you create a vision, a road map, an action plan, and a set of initiatives to move the school in the right direction.
Develop a fleet of bus drivers
You’ll be driving the bus at first, but you’re eventually going to need a fleet of bus drivers to join you. To recruit drivers, start talking. Share the school’s vision with everyone.
Conversations should happen between principals and teachers, teachers and staff, staff and students, students and parents. Each person needs to understand the school vision and identify how their personal vision, job and effort contribute to the overarching vision.
Tend to the roots of the tree
In a world driven by test scores, budgets and short-term results, it’s easy to be distracted by outcomes rather than the process. Don’t fall into this trap. Tend to the roots of your tree and you’ll always be pleased with the fruit it supplies. If you ignore the root, eventually the tree will dry up—and so will the fruit.
Weed out negativity
To create a positive school culture, you must deal with the cost of negativity head on. Ask yourself the following questions: How are we going to deal with negativity, challenges and energy vampires?
Dwight Cooper, the CEO of a nurse staffing company that was voted one of the best places to work by The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), asked himself this question; his answer was a company policy he called The No Complaining Rule. This rule states that “Employees are not allowed to mindlessly complain to their co-workers. If they have a complaint, they can take it to a manager or someone who can do something about the problem, BUT they must also offer one or two possible solutions.”
Give this rule a try: it may lead to new ideas, innovation and success.
Stay tuned for part II; we have five more tips to share with you next week!