Stop, drop, and roll is a strategy taught to children to use if their clothing catches fire. It is an important safety technique designed to protect children from being badly burned. Better than reactive “stop, drop, and roll”, we try to proactively keep children away from things that can catch clothing on fire, such as matches, lighters, fireplaces, heaters, grills, or gasoline.
But what do we do to protect our faculty and students from practices that are deadly to our school environment? In order to develop strategies to improve our school culture, we have to identify the potential dangers or Kulture Killers.
- Negativity – Do you have any negative attitudes in your school? Look no further. It starts with you! In the movie, Remember the Titans, Julius made the profound statement, “Attitude reflects leadership”. This is so true. If you want positive results you have to approach everything you do with a positive attitude! Don’t be a Debbie Downer. Both positive and negative attitudes are contagious. Rather than focusing on what is wrong, focus on what is right and build on your strengths.
- Disengagement – If you are boring and your school is boring, don’t expect students to love coming to school. If you want to improve attendance for students and staff, make your school an exciting place to be! Is your school designed to be pleasing to adults or students? Use lunch time to play games, host dance contests, lip sync challenges, and have grade level contests; make sure to include your teachers too! Teachers love a spontaneous hot chocolate break or surprise catered breakfast to start the day. The pay-off is improved engagement for everyone, and it’s worth the effort!
- Lack of relationships – It is easy to say that relationships matter, but what are you going to do about it? Students long to be noticed, to matter, and to be valued. Be intentional about building rapport and connecting with your students.
- Unaddressed student discipline infractions – Just as negativity breeds negativity, misbehavior breeds misbehavior. Unaddressed discipline infractions affect school safety, teacher morale, instruction, and stakeholder perception. Principals are the protectors of the school and the school environment. How school discipline is handled is an excellent indicator of a school’s culture. Students thrive in an environment where excellence is rewarded and appropriate consequences are given for discipline violations.
- No vision – What is your “why”? Why do you do what you do? If you don’t know why, you won’t know where you are going or how you will get there. When you know your “why” cast a vision of where you want your students to be at the end of the year and then passionately pursue that vision.
- Feelings of underappreciation – Take time to celebrate your staff. Brag on them, thank them, celebrate birthdays, inspire them, get their feedback, and make school fun! When people feel appreciated they will gladly exceed your expectations.
- Majoring on the minors – Don’t get caught up focusing on things that don’t really matter. For us, it’s easy to get distracted during the day by email, returning phone calls, broken copiers, and etc. rather than staying true to the focus for that day. Determine what is most important and focus your time and energy there.
As the guardian of your school, take the lead in protecting your culture from Kulture Killers. Be the leader. Create a school where students, parents, and teachers are beating down the door to get in!
This blog was written by Dr. Connie Franklin. Dr. Franklin has over 20 years in education with 15 years as a school administrator at the middle school and high school levels. Before moving into administration, Dr. Franklin taught business education and was an instructional technology specialist.