School Culture and Climate: Creating a Place Where Leaders Grow
Author: Tracey A. Holland
June 19, 2014
School culture and climate is common speaking point amongst educators. But what exactly is it? It’s a fairly common question educators ask since the definition can vary depending on whom you ask. But the one common answer educators will give, is that both school culture and climate are a necessity to the growth and success of the students, teachers, and administrators. In fact, school culture and climate is so important to K12 education, some educators dream of how they would improve their school culture and climate if only they had unlimited funds. Maybe you have even caught yourself doing the same.
Do you ever dream about a place where everyone feels at home, content, and confident—where everyone knows who they are, what they enjoy, and how they want to make a difference in the lives of others?
In such a place, you feel the passion and energy in a way that is contagious.
Now, imagine finding this environment in your neighborhood school.
As you walk around such a school, it doesn’t matter whether you are talking to teachers, parents, staff members, or students. You hear the same underlying core message from everyone: “I love this school. I know I have potential and I can make a difference.”
You hear this message in the words of the fourth grader who recounts a past riddled with mistakes and tells you, “Each day is a new beginning. I get a brand-new start.”
You hear it from the seventh grader who has felt the pressure of peer conformity but now shares, “I feel like I can be myself now. I tried to be like other people, and it didn’t get me very far. I learned I couldn’t accomplish much by being something or someone I’m not. It’s much better to be myself.”
And then there is the first grader who tells you, “We have a school mission, and I want to help fulfill that.”
These statements seem too good to be true; so you probe a bit deeper to learn more. As you continue, one thing becomes clear: these children feel valued and supported.
From the moment each child walked through the doors of the school, they have been greeted with the same message: “You are a leader, and you have greatness within you.”
School Culture and Climate: “Growing Leadership”
Like any seed, the seeds of leadership need quality soil to grow. How can we as educators cultivate great “leadership soil” in our schools?
- Good soil is nutrient-rich. Nutrients provide food. In leadership, principles are nutrients. These principles are taught through activities, lessons, and examples that help students grow as leaders.
- Good soil is deep. Deep soil allows the roots of a plant to spread. Similarly, teaching leadership in a fully integrated way provides deep soil. Leadership principles are integrated in every subject and class, so students are regularly exposed to them.
- Good soil absorbs water. If soil doesn’t absorb water, the water doesn’t get to the roots of the plant. In a school with a leadership culture, students are given opportunities to absorb knowledge through real-world leadership opportunities.
In schools with rich leadership environments, leaders thrive and grow deep roots of effectiveness and greatness.
Imagine the possibilities in a world 5, 10, or 15 years from now, when these children have grown and are the leaders of the community in which you live.
Imagine the difference.
Imagine the possibilities.
Imagine the greatness.
Are you beginning to think about what you can do to cultivate great leadership in your sphere of influence?
Take those thoughts and act on them. Then cultivate leadership in your school and create a place where leaders can grow… one child at a time!