positive school culture

The Importance of Staff “Floor Time” and Immersive School Leadership

Guest post by Chris Koch

As a parent of three young girls, I was introduced long ago to the concept of “floor time,” or getting down on the floor and playing with your kids. Through the years, I have been a student in my daughters’ classrooms, a customer at their homemade arts and crafts store, and a judge in a spontaneous dance off. Quality floor time is fun and helps me build deeper relationships with my daughters. It means so much more to my kids than just sitting on the couch and casually watching them play. (more…)

Ten Tips to Build Stronger Relationships and Start the School Year Off Right 

Guest post by Amber Rudolph

It’s that time of year again when parents count down the days until school begins, while their children sleep until noon, fight with their siblings, and abuse their screen time. Kids might not tell you, but they too are ready for the school year to begin. They miss their friends and school life.  (more…)

Focus on the “BE” before the “DO”

Guest post by Jay R. Dostal

Last year, my leadership team held a two-day retreat to focus on moving from our current school building into the new one we were building at the time. As you might imagine, moving a 230,000 square foot building, in addition to implementing a new educational model centered on college, career, and life readiness, can be quite stressful and taxing. Many details needed to be coordinated, including developing a communication plan, updating multiple forms with the new address, purchasing new furniture, and much more. My team and I worked diligently to put together a list of things that we needed to get done during our two-day hiatus away from the building, and we had every intention of getting them completed before the second semester started. Then the retreat happened. (more…)

Payson High School, Part 2: Building a School Culture of Responsibility through Embedded Intervention

Guest post by Jeff Simon

Last week, I discussed the importance of building a positive school culture by utilizing a one-hour lunch period for clubs and activities that foster school pride and for innovative labs that encourage enthusiasm for learning. This week, I will share how we’ve built a culture of personal responsibility at Payson High School by providing a positive support system for student learning through embedded intervention.

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Payson High School, Part 1: Building a Positive Culture of School Pride and Enthusiasm for Learning

Guest post by Jeff Simon

Indiana Jones was my hero growing up—I wanted to be just like him. And now, as high school administrator, I get to do that every day, because not only did Indiana Jones study culture, he taught it to inquisitive minds and instilled passion in curious students to become lifelong learners.

Principals know that as the culture goes, so does the school. From Day 1, our administrative goal at Payson High School has been to build a culture that focuses on pride in our school and enthusiasm for learning. (more…)

Recognizing Student Success: Creating a Positive Culture for Students

Guest post by Matthew Younghans

Motivation and success are what drive individuals in any profession. In the school setting, it is critically important that we celebrate and recognize the outstanding things that students accomplish, both inside and outside of the building. Watching students grow and accomplish their goals is one of the main reasons most go into education, myself included. The recognition of students fosters strong relationships among students, families, faculty, and the community and creates a positive school culture where students feel valued. (more…)

Creating Culturally Responsive Schools

Guest post by Helen Gladden

Schools that strive to be culturally responsive believe that there is no one right “set” of experiences, beliefs, and values. They know that each student’s cultural set is his or her self identity. Most importantly, they understand that students are far more likely to fully engage in the learning process when their self identity is understood, accepted, and valued. They are committed to building trust with and among their students, and they know that trust is built through respect. (more…)

How School “Brand” Determines Student Outcomes

Guest post by Baruti K. Kafele, an award-winning educator, internationally renowned speaker, and best-selling author, who will lead two sessions at Ignite ’15, February 19–21.

The brand of any school tells a story. It reveals to everyone—students, staff, parents, and the community—who you are as a school. Your school’s brand can be defined intentionally, or it can evolve organically; but a brand that evolves organically may not be the one you most desire. Your school’s brand matters—it determines student outcomes.

Here’s a brief illustration that I share in discussions with educators about school brand: There’s a popular Southern-based restaurant chain, and whenever I enter these restaurants, a very unique experience consistently occurs. Someone behind the counter yells out, “Welcome to [our restaurant]!” The consistency of their greeting speaks volumes about their brand. (more…)

Transforming At-Risk Schools: It’s All About Attitude

Baruti Kafele’s students will never forget him. He was the guy standing at the front door every morning to greet students as they entered. Why? He was the principal. And as far as he’s concerned, that was one of the most important things he could do in his role.

A principal for 14 years, Kafele led four New Jersey schools with at-risk student populations to success. Now an internationally renowned speaker, author, and consultant, he has quite a bit of insight on the topic of improving schools with at-risk students—which he will share at Ignite ’15 this February during his session, “School Leadership Practices for Transforming the Attitudes of At-Risk Student Populations.” (more…)