positive school culture

Reaching the Masses: Communicating With All Stakeholders

Why do you think companies like Apple and Nike have such a cult following? If you compare their products to their competitors, they are very similar—but these two companies are getting consumers to pay more for their product than their competitors are. Why? I believe the No. 1 reason is communication. These companies know how to communicate the “greatness” of their products. From iPhones to Air Jordans, we have been told we can “Think Different” and “Be like Mike” just by powering on their devices and lacing up their sneakers. In the world of education, we can learn a thing or two from these companies on how we communicate with our stakeholders. (more…)

Improving Staff Morale: One Simple Note at a Time

After 34 years in the education profession and 15 years at the same junior high school, I continue to be amazed at the fact the staff members still enjoy getting positive notes in their mailboxes about what they do at our school and for the students. Over the course of several years, I have altered or changed the process I have used for this positive messaging and modified how I did these messages to fit the personality or needs of each staff member. When you walk around our school you will see these notes attached or posted in each staff member’s room, by their desk, on the side of their computer monitor, or posted on a board behind their desk. (more…)

Building Positive School Culture Through Service Activities

Middle level students are at a crucial age, consciously developing their identities while trying to understand how they fit in with their peers. Teachers, administrators, and staff have the opportunity to provide a compass for students navigating these difficult times. As middle level students develop their sense of self, they often begin looking for ways to make an impact in their community. This materializes in a desire to pursue a cause, do fundraising, and participate in charities. (more…)

Creating a Culture of Nourishing Relationships

So much of the principalship is rooted in ever-evolving data, never-ending checklists, and meeting the needs of stakeholders. However, most know that true growth and success come from the ability to not only manage the aforementioned items, but also to create a culture that invites and nourishes relationships. During the infancy of my principalship, I have been pleasantly surprised at the growth of our school family. In reflection, sharing my why, inviting others to share theirs, and creating meaningful opportunities to grow relationships has made a profound difference. (more…)

Share Your Passion with Students: School-Wide Clubs

A maximal learning environment cannot exist without students feeling safe and connected with their teacher in the classroom. But teachers quickly get caught up with the demands of covering curriculum and meeting mandates. Most times, it is easier to conform to the system instead of infusing our individual personalities into our school lives. (more…)

Making Connections: Lighting a Fire in Your Staff and Students

I am not a camper, so I am in no way an expert on building a fire, but I do know (thanks to my high school science classes) that in order for fire to ignite, it needs three elements: heat, fuel and oxygen. On the flip side, being a school leader is something I do know, and culture is something that is talked about all over leadership blogs, articles, books, and tweets. Culture is way more than just a buzzword. Culture is the heart of a school, and the difference-maker between success and failure. (more…)

“Do You See Me?” The Power of Student Connections

Positive connections between students, teachers, administrators, and school community lead to academic success and a balanced education. To reach their potential, it is integral that children connect to at least one person in their school community. This connection needs to exist within a safe and stable environment, providing opportunities for these relationships to strengthen and grow. The middle level leader plays a key role in fostering these important components of success. (more…)

Bringing Light to a Dark Month

Darkness, cold weather, and a continued lack of daylight can bring the winter blues to many of us. While February is considered the shortest month of the year, for some it seems to be the longest; students and staff are longing for warmer weather, increased daylight, and spring break! (more…)

Character Education: It’s Not Something Added to The Plate. It Is the Plate

It was my first year teaching, and I was tidying up my classroom. I picked up trash under a desk and threw it away. The next day I noticed more trash under a desk. I watched for several days as the culprit would place trash under his desk and then leave it.  The next day, when my classroom offender got up to leave, once again leaving trash on the floor, I stopped him and asked him why he would leave his trash, he stated, “Oh, that’s the janitor’s job.” (more…)

Making Everyone Happy: The Unreal Mindset of a School Leader

Being a leader means that you have to make decisions, and in my five years as an assistant principal, I have gradually come to accept the fact that not everyone is going to like the decisions that I have to make. Here is my story in a nutshell along with three key criteria I have developed that help me make sound decisions for my school, while dealing better with the inevitable complaints. (more…)