school culture

Student Voice: The Most Important Sound in the School

Guest post by Bobby Bennett

In 2012, I became principal of my alma mater—only the second alumnus since the 1890s to have such an opportunity. No pressure! Eager to begin the work of serving my community and school improvement, I held a series of meetings with staff and the school community over the course of the first three months. These meetings would shape our work for the next five years. In fact, what we learned and put into practice not only yielded academic success, it transformed the culture of our school. (more…)

Trading Achievement for Inspiration: Reimagining Success in Schools

Guest post by John Clements

I am an optimist about the future of schools and learning. My unwavering hope as an educational leader springs from the expanding definition of what it means to be a successful school. For decades, perhaps since the foreboding message of “A Nation at Risk,” educators have equated success with one word: achievement. While the lens of student achievement may provide a well-intentioned view of school, it clouds the vision of schools as places that engage, empower, and inspire students. Achievement ignores the inherently aspirational aspects of learning.

Ask any mom or dad what type of schooling they want for their child and you’re likely to hear about (more…)

Building Community and Literacy: One Book, One School Program

Guest post by Maureen Doyle Kemmett

Compelled to increase literacy skills in students and build a stronger school culture, our leadership team at Furnace Brook Middle School (FBMS) in Marshfield, MA, initiated a One Book, One School (OBOS) program in 2013. After spending the better part of a school year forming a literacy committee, researching OBOS programs, and (more…)

Creativity and Innovation in Secondary Education

Guest post by Brian Pickering

What can secondary schools do to build a learning environment that fosters creativity and innovation?

Seven years ago, the leadership team at Contoocook Valley Regional High School, or ConVal, set off on a mission to answer this question. The goal was to guarantee all students the opportunity for academic and social support, as well as learning extensions and enrichment. (more…)

Redefining the High School Experience: A Trauma-Informed Approach

Guest post by Deborah Moya

What makes ABQ Charter Academy (ABQCA) different from any traditional high school or charter school? I believe our mission statement says it all: “The mission of ABQ Charter Academy is to redefine the high school experience.” Many of our scholars have had very negative experiences in traditional high schools. They seek to find a place where they belong, and we offer an environment that is centered on each individual scholar and their unique differences.  (more…)

5 Ways to Create a Supportive School Community

Guest post by Nathan Boyd

One of the most important lessons I have learned as a school principal is that children need to be in a relaxed state of mind in order to perform at their full potential. If students’ physical and emotional needs are not being met, their minds will not be ready to engage. Sounds obvious, right? Actually, creating the right conditions for students to learn is one of the biggest challenges for us as educators, because so many factors are beyond our immediate control. (more…)

Using Feedback to Foster a Collaborative Campus Culture

Guest post by Melissa King-Knowles

When I was a teacher, I started using feedback looping processes to survey my high school students about particular units and methods of assessment. I asked what they liked and didn’t like and sought input on my teaching practice. With their brutal (ahem, I mean beautiful) honesty, students brought me to my knees on a couple of occasions. (more…)

Know What Matters and Make It Work 

Guest post by Angela K. Doll

A parent request for hourly behavior updates.

A student sent to the office for repeatedly trying to staple himself to his chair.

A community member’s plan to improve the school by eliminating all technology. (more…)

Tips to Build a Culture of Innovation

Guest post by Jamie Richardson

School leaders talk often about innovation in education, but as much as we want it, we have to admit it’s hard to get past talking about it and actually change. Change is scary and uncomfortable. Even with well thought out plans, the outcome is unknown and the stakes are high. A far greater risk, though, is maintaining the status quo. But I have seen the power of change at LaCreole Middle School. Our stellar staff faces their fears, takes risks, and embraces new ideas so that we all work toward a true common goal. (more…)

Building School Culture by Starting Small

Guest post by Duane Kline

I have an admission to make. It turns out that after 31 years as a public school educator, I think school culture is the most important part of schooling. More important than curriculum, more important than assessment. Additionally, its importance is not solely for the benefit of students, but for the teachers and staff members who make the school what it is for the students. (more…)