How do we change our culture?

Education leaders and learners recognize the most important aspect impacting schools and student achievement is the culture. But what is school culture, how do you improve it and what should you avoid as a leader?

Here are some key points regarding school culture that I learned from the folks within my PLN on what is culture, how to change it, how to make it positive and build a strong culture over time.

School Culture Defined

Culture is the school’s personality or behavior (why staff do things). It is a slow process to change and the culture influences the values and beliefs of those that work there. On the other hand, Climate is the attitude of the staff within the school and this can change much quicker than culture.

Ways to shake up the culture

To change the culture, then it is important to disrupt the status quo that may include using things like:

  • Praise and compliment risk taking
  • Make meetings fun and celebrate efforts of those that are supporting the desired culture
  • Push boundaries of past practice so staff can consider “why did we do what we have done” and “is there a better way”?
  • Encourage the development of your most effective teachers so they grow into leaders
  • Embrace an open culture
  • Create an amazing school environment

How to build positive culture

  • Building positive culture is a series of intentional interactions focused on positivity and what is best for kids
  • Clarify what success looks like and keep the focus on a few essential elements
  • Monitor progress along the way and address issues as they arise
  • Express gratitude everywhere you go
  • Honor the right people and reward the right things
  • Celebrate areas of success (no matter how small)
  • Maximize the strengths of your people
  • Real growth occurs by connections and relationships

How to build a strong culture

  • Help the staff to connect to their values
  • Identify a common vision that is supported by effective professional learning
  • Develop teacher leaders who help lead Professional Learning
  • Develop a culture of innovation and empowering students
  • Raise expectations by supporting teachers by pushing them beyond their comfort zone
  • Engage with students, staff and parents
  • Bring positive energy every day
  • Seek feedback from the students, listen to them and act upon it

Culture is the most significant factor influencing the success of a school. Culture drives expectations and beliefs and that leads to the behavior of the staff. As leaders, we help decide that culture by our modeling, our passion, optimism and purposeful tasks. As Simon Sinek shared, “Leadership isn’t about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” Leaders must support, encourage and develop the staff so the culture becomes the positive driving force behind school change.









I look forward to hearing from you regarding your view of school culture. Comment below or reach out to me at


Published by

A Husband, Father and Principal with a focus on learning, leading and connecting with others.

An educator for 25 years with 14 of those being a building administrator. I have found that the more I learn form others and their experiences it helps me grow and learn as well. I hope you join our journey as we create learning environments for students and staff that create future success.

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