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Climate and Culture: The key to academic success

November 30, 2011

Climate and Culture: The key to academic success

I am a firm believer that the climate and culture of a school or program will dictate the success of the students.


MENA ELL Teacher presenting to students at Migrant Education Newcomer Academy

The role that the building principal, program director or any school administrator plays in developing a positive climate and culture is significant to the success of the students and staff. As a former secondary principal, I believe that a school must have student, staff, parent and community ownership before there is an increase in academic achievement. I have witnessed a number of school leaders who have produced quality school improvement plans on paper that never translated into student achievement due to the fact that there was no sense of ownership within the school. The role of the principal must be to build an environment which is welcoming, respectful, inclusive and engaging to all who pass through the doors. The principal must create buy in and ownership from their staff. This is done by treating staff as people first and professionals second. By having honest conversations with staff a principal can determine where people are professionally and how willing they are to help create a shared vision for the school. The principal must create a place where the staff wants to work and is willing to take risks to improve their performance for the benefit of the students. When there is staff ownership, the staff will create a similar environment for their students and parents. “If you build it they will come”. This statement is very true when a school is successful in creating ownership in their school.

I will explore this topic more in future posts, I wanted to get the conversation started. Share your ideas about this topic. I usually get into some great conversations when I bring this up in educational settings.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. The Ed Buzz permalink
    December 16, 2011 12:43 am

    You’re exactly right. The people doing the teaching have to buy in and feel respected.

    • December 16, 2011 3:10 pm

      Thank you for your comment. Shared leadership is the only way a school will move forward.

  2. Juvenal Cervantes permalink
    January 3, 2012 4:12 pm

    Mark, you’re right on target with the ideas of climate and culture as essential keys for academic success. Often in our schools we see school climate as a short-term initiative or the focus is relegated to an individual or a department within a school or school district. However, like service excellence, a positive climate is something that must permeate a building, a school district and a community. To achieve a positive school climate where students have a sense of belonging and where students feel safe, school administrators, instructional staff, and support staff must begin to think of school climate as systemic, strategic, and sustainable. I predict the achievement gap will continue to grow unless we make an honest effort toward a positive school climate where all voices are heard, respected, and honored. A commitment to positive school climate will include ongoing training at all levels, continuous monitoring, support for staff, and accountability at all levels. – jc

    • January 4, 2012 6:25 pm

      Juvenal, thanks for the comment. I recently read an article on hiring people based on skill or spirit that relates to this discussion about climate and culture. I will try to post a conversation about it in a future blog.

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