What is School Culture? - National Association of Elementary

The Principal’s Role
in Developing Academic
and Behavioral Expectations
that Systematically
Support School Culture
Jeromey M. Sheets, Ed.D
Past President, OAESA
Principal, Tallmadge Elementary School
Lancaster (OH) City Schools
Paul G. Young, Ph.D.
Past President, OAESA & NAESP
Retired CEO
National AfterSchool Association
About the Presenters
Jeromey Sheets, Ed.D.
Paul Young, Ph.D.
15 year veteran principal
Has led four schools
Past President of OAESA
NAESP State Representative
Last school earned 8/8 on Ohio
Report Card
One OAESA Hall of Fame
19 year veteran principal
Has led four schools
Past President of OAESA
Past President of NAESP
Last school earned highest
district scores in reading (Gr. 1,
4 & 6)
Two OAESA Hall of Fame
Retired CEO, National
AfterSchool Association
Presentation Goals
Review and further develop strategies that…
• build positive school culture
• create a comprehensive behavior
support system
• establish positive relationships
with parents
• enhance instructional leadership
What is School Culture?
Behavioral Patterns
Safety Practices
The Way Things Are Done
What is School Culture?
ASCD’s Lexicon of Learning defines school culture as:
• The sum of the values, cultures, safety practices, and
organizational structures within a school that cause it to function
and react in particular ways.
• Some schools are said to have a nurturing environment that
recognizes children and treats them as individuals; others may have
the feel of authoritarian structures where rules are strictly enforced
and hierarchical control is strong. Teaching practices, diversity, and
the relationships among administrators, teachers, parents, and
students contribute to school climate.
• School climate refers mostly to the school's effects on students,
whereas school culture refers more to the way teachers and other
staff members work together.
If culture is the personality of the
organization, then climate
represents that organization’s
It is much easier to change an
organization’s attitude (climate)
than it is to
change its personality (culture).
Steve Gruenert
Indiana State University
Essentials of School Culture
Focus on reflection
Democratic governance
Clear policies and expectations for behavior
Student leadership
Respect and caring
Diversity recognized and celebrated
Inter-grade & across-grade student groupings
Pick Me Ups (formal time to start each day as a community)
Rituals (e.g. new student orientation; International Night; alumni
reunions; etc.)
Students are comfortable talking with adults about academic and
personal issues
High attendance, graduation, and college acceptance rates
Low dropout rate
Emphasis on professional development/life-long learning for staff
See more at: http://www.bigpicture.org/2008/10/school-culture/#sthash.EOgM72bi.dpuf
From Big Picture Learning - Dennis Littky, Providence, RI
Key Elements that Frame School
• Structure
• Powerful work ethic
• Common behavioral and academic
expectations for students and staff
• Trust
• Staff and parent empowerment
Establish Structure
Establish Decision Making Policies
Common Knowledge
Staff Development
Shared Goals
Mission and Vision Statements
• A mission statement
explains why your
school exists
• The “why” is the
guiding purpose of all
you do
• A vision statement must
explain (in detail) what
your learning
community hopes to
• A school’s mission is to
teach (and promote
• Break down your vision
by the week, month,
year, multiyear
• Communicate it often
Teach and Establish a Work
Do what you say you will do
when you said you would do it.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then
is not an act, but a habit.
- Aristotle
Professional Work Ethic Virtues
1. Attitude
2. Common Sense
3. Competence
4. Gratitude
5. Initiative
6. Integrity
7. Perseverance
8. Professionalism
9. Reliability
10. Respect
Teach Common Expectations
• Students (and staff) know exactly what is expected
• Students know what will happen if they cross over
the line
• Students understand the meaning of consequences
• Energy, enthusiasm, and dedication are pervasive
• Teachers supervise every inch of instructional space
• Student-teacher interactions are fair, firm and
• Pride is observable
From Newell, (2012) Classroom Management in the Music Room
What behavioral expectation is the most
important for students and staff to
understand at your school?
1. Playground rules and expectations
2. Cafeteria rules and expectations
3. Reason/s for office referrals
Guide to the
Professional Management of
Your Elementary School
Somewhere, USA 11111
Purpose of this Guide
• Clarification of the principal’s expectations
• Intentional teaching of positive behaviors to students (and staff)
• Empowerment of professional staff
Template for PowerPoint is available upon request
Areas of Student Supervision and
Morning line-up
Classroom instruction
Restroom breaks
Library/computer lab
Hallway movements (to and from other areas)
Resource classes
Lunch recess
Indoor recess
Office referrals
Dismissal (walkers, bus room, etc.)
Keys to Successful Student
Attain staff buy-in
Structure the student day
Teach preventative management strategies
Reinforce of pro-social behavior
Role-model of all desired behaviors
Integrate a Code of Conduct into daily
Teach How to Make a Line
• Practice makes perfect
• Stand behind the next student
• All bodies, heads, and eyes face
• Keep in personal space
• No talking
Sample School Structure/Expectations
PowerPoint Slide
Teach Hallway Movements
• No student talking, only teacher voice for
• Keep to the right in halls and on stairs
• Do not disrupt instruction in other
• Keep hands off student work on walls
• Consider it a challenge to be the best
managed class in the school while
moving in lines
Sample School Structure/Expectations
PowerPoint Slide
In an Effective School, There Are
Five Major Reasons for
Office Referrals
• Personal injury
• Cheating
• Illegal or illicit behavior (stealing, drugs,
• Danger or threat to other students or adults
• Overt refusal to follow a staff member’s
Rationale for School-Wide
Student Management and
Code of Conduct
• Schools must be safe and productive
• Schools must create a climate with a high
expectancy of student success
• Students must be motivated and engaged
• Staff must be guided to prevent problems
and to view those that do occur as
“opportunities for teaching”
Sample Code of Conduct
• W ork for Quality
• E arn Respect
• S afety First
• T reat Others Kindly
Modify to fit your needs
Suggestion - Keep a code simple and easy to recite
At Cedar Heights Elementary, I am expected to live
Line of Choice
H onesty
O wnership
R esponsibility
N eatness
E xpectations
T olerance
--------------------B laming
E xcuses
D enial
Communicate and Connect
Congratulations!___________________________ is being recognized
with this HORNET Award by _________________ for following Cedar
Heights School Above the Line Expectations.
At Cedar Heights we believe in:
H onesty
O wnership
R esponsibility
N eatness
E xpectations
T olerance
Please sign this form and send it back with your child so he/she may be
included in a weekly drawing for a prize.
Parent Signature
When a School Is Well
Structured and Staff Effectively
Manages Student Behavior…
• Office referrals are minimal
• Removals from school are infrequent
• Behavior incidents are minor and
• Success rate for individual behavior
plans is high
• Staff/parent/administrative satisfaction
is high
The Principal Sets the Tone in
Establishing School Culture
• Be visible
• Choose a positive attitude
• Identify patterns of behavior (students and
• Don’t procrastinate; address problems
• Empower staff to be the disciplinarians
• Keep the “Monkeys off Your Back”
• Gather good ideas from other schools
• Look professional
Feedback is Essential in School Culture
• Oral feedback is more effective than written
• Quality feedback is needed, not more
• Much of the feedback provided by the teacher
to the student is not valued and not acted on
• The most powerful feedback is provided from
the student to the teacher and or to peers.
“The most powerful single influence enhancing
achievement is feedback.”
Strategies for Instructional
• Establish effective, evidence-based
intervention processes
• Establish systems to address all learners’
• Remove labels
• Assign teachers to strengths
• Focus on Tier I data
• Establish professional learning communities
• Replace IAT with Kid Talks
• Lead expanded learning opportunities in
before and afterschool program
Build Trust
Principals Must LEAD
LEAD involves measuring, monitoring,
maintaining, and maximizing the school’s
instructional program.
What academic expectation is the most
important for students and staff to
understand at your school?
1. Homework
2. Time-on-task with in-class work
3. Differentiated instruction
Avoid the Villains of
Decision Making
• Narrow framing
limiting options to consider
• Confirmation bias
seeking information that bolsters beliefs
• Short-term emotions
being swayed by emotions that fade
• Overconfidence
too much faith placed on predictions
Communicate with Parents
• Share daily learning
• Communicate positives
each day
• Involve parents in the RTI
• Establish trusting
• Identify and encourage
parent leaders
At its best, student culture is
the cornerstone of a learning
environment where student
intellect and character will
both thrive. The key to
building a great culture is
- Paul Bambrick-Santoyo
Kappan, May 2014
Of the three options listed, what is the
biggest culture killer at your school?
1. Student unrest, lack of
discipline/respect; bullying
2. Trust - poor staff relations; isolated
3. Absentee - uninvolved parents
My “To Do” List
Cite several take-aways, implications, or
strategies that you have determined to
further develop to enhance your school
• Saturday, July 12, 10:15-11:45 a.m.
• Canal C – Gaylord Opryland Resort and
Convention Center
Meet Us In Nashville!!
Share your vision of positive school
culture with other principals
Recommended Reading
Blanchard, K. Oncken, W., Burrows, H. (1989). The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey.
New York: Blanchard Family Partnership and the William Oncken Corporation.
Brafman, O. & Brafman, R. (2010). Click: The Magic of Instant Connections. New York:
Random House.
Chester, E. (2012). Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring
Pride in the Workforce. Austin, TX; Greenleaf Book Group Press.
Espinoza, C., Ukleja, M., & Rusch, C. (2010). Managing the Millennials: Discover the Core
Competencies for Managing Today’s Workforce. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Hatte, J. (2009). Visible Learning. New York: Routledge.
Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2013). Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. New
York: Crown Business/Random House.
Hess, F. (2013). Cage-Busting Leadership. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Maxwell, J. (2002). Leadership 101. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Newell, D. (2012). Classroom Management in the Music Room. San Diego: Neil A Kjos Music
Young, P., Sheets, J. & Knight, D. (2005). Mentoring Principals: Frameworks, Agendas, Tips,
and Case Stories for Mentors and Mentees. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Young, P. (2008). Promoting Positive Behaviors: An Elementary Principal’s Guide to Structuring
the Learning Environment. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Web Resources
A Resource and Promising Practices Guide for School Administrators & Faculty: Section I:
School Climate and Culture; New York State Education Department
Bambrick-Santoyo. (2014). Build a meaningful student culture from Day One. Kappan 95(8),
Gruenert, Steve. (2008). School Culture, School Climate: They Are Not the Same Thing.
Principal, March/April 2008, National Association of Elementary School Principals.
Habegger, Shelly (2008). The Principals Role in Successful Schools: Creating a Positive
School Culture. Principal, September/October 2008, National Association of Elementary
School Principals.
Is Your School's Culture Toxic or Positive? Education World
Kuntz, Brad (2012) ASCD Community: Create a Positive School Culture. Volume 54, Number
9, (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development).
MacNeil, A., Prater, D., Busch, S. (2009). The effects of school culture and climate on student
achievement. Volume 12, No. 1, 73-84, International Journal Leadership in Education.
Positive School Climate Tool Kit, Minneapolis Public Schools.
School Climate: National School Climate Center.
Sheets, J. & Young, P. (2013). Frame Your School’s Culture. Principal Navigator - OAESA, 9(1),
p. 6-8.
Sheninger, Eric (10-16-2013). The Secrets to Creating a Positive School Culture. A Principal’s
Reflection (Blog).
Zakrzewski, Vicki (2013). How to Create a Positive School Climate. Greater Good Science
Presenter Contact Information
Jeromey M. Sheets, Ed.D.
2625 Wheeling Rd NE
Lancaster, OH 43130
740-503-0617 (C)
740-654-1820 (H)
[email protected]
Paul G. Young, Ph.D.
485 Crestview Drive
Lancaster, OH 43130
614-296-4246 (C)
740-653-6553 (H)
[email protected]

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