Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  In schools, this means that all the best strategies for improvement (better instruction, for example) are dependent on school culture.  They can’t go anywhere without a supportive school culture.  So what is culture?  The best definition is “the way we do things around here.”  The norms of behavior, the social mores, the expectations for how things are done—these form the culture of a school.

Have you ever been in a school where the teachers and principal are in conflict?  What about the teachers and parents?  Or new teachers with veteran teachers?  Or even a principal and board?  These are all examples of unhealthy school cultures (possibly even toxic) that prevent any changes or improvements.  Have you ever wondered how you turn around those toxic environments?  Or how you go about setting up a more positive culture?

While I think most of us have been in schools with stagnant or toxic cultures at one point or another, the common experience is a school culture that’s a little out of alignment—perhaps too focused on putting the adults first.  This issue presents the best articles I’ve found on school culture.  The reason is threefold:

  1. We need to examine our school cultures. Most of the time it takes a new employee with fresh eyes to recognize things we’ve been overlooking.  These blind spots prevent us from seeing the whole picture.
  2. We need to find ways to move our schools forward. Most of the time we don’t need to completely overhaul our cultures.  We just need to find incremental improvements.
  3. We might need to confront toxic areas of our school cultures. Our entire school culture might not be toxic but our treatment of staff might be, for example.  If that is the case, we need to find ways to improve our culture in order to implement any strategies.

What is Culture?

What does a Positive School Culture Look Like?

What does a Toxic School Culture Look Like?

Other Miscellaneous Culture Articles

Dr. Tim Uhl

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