Students need to have a positive school culture to grow into successful and fit for future persons. School is the perfect place to inspire students and to learn.
More than this, positive school culture is what prepares students for personal fulfilment and well–being as well as professional satisfaction.
It is being able as a student to contribute to shaping the school’s culture and helping it grow means a lot. What children need is a world that values truth, honesty and justice. And having access to this through their school makes them develop right.
Taking just one perspective of the problem, communication and the connections it creates stands at the base of positive school culture – beliefs, values, actions.
Creating a positive school culture
A positive school culture starts with having a secure environment for the school community to enjoy. Besides this, the capacity to change according to students’ needs is vital.
The Compass Advantage is a great model to engage families, schools and communities to help create positive youth development.
The Compass Advantage includes empathy, curiosity, sociability, resilience, self-awareness, integrity, resourcefulness and creativity. Using this model helps children thrive and develop a sense of integrity and self–leadership.
The relationship with teachers, parents and other adults in the school-aged children impacts their future in life. As education and development go hand in hand, doing the right thing and having a healthy education system is essential. Marilyn Prince – Mitchell, a Developmental Psychologist, created the Compass Advantage to help those in charge of youth development have a guide to help them.
The Compass Advantage
Curiosity is all about encouraging experimentation and discovery.
Sociability is vital for students to understand how their emotional reaction can impact their social interaction.
Resilience helps them go out of their comfort zones and take upon challenges.
Self–awareness characterizes each of us; thus, students need to understand they are unique. A positive school environment recognizes the uniqueness of each student and their worth as human beings.
Integrity is just doing the right thing even if there’s no one watching. The respect, the availability to listen to the student’s needs and concerns are great ways for teachers to shape children’s integrity. Moreover, a school with a positive culture shows mutual respect, courtesy and awareness of the interdependence of people.
Resourcefulness helps students be strategic thinkers and problem solvers. There is no room for preconceived ideas; being open and finding the needed resources to accomplish the goals is what the future looks like.
Creativity fosters imagination and innovation. Allowing students to develop their creativity and supporting them is an excellent opportunity for each student.
Empathy is the core of all, and it is about caring for more than oneself and creating a world where we all care for each other and have each other’s back. This social responsibility, tolerance and understanding should exist in and out of school.
Characteristics of a positive school culture
A lot of characteristics work together to create a positive school culture. And more than this, all that is a part of the school help create its culture.
However, out of all characteristics a positive school culture should have, there are five important ones.
The camaraderie between all staff based on trust and understanding is essential. It helps everyone feel they belong there.
As teachers and not only, we all can improve. Being aware of this, we can foster a culture where we can learn from everything that crosses our path.
Challenges are what makes us develop. A growth mindset describes a positive culture each school should have to grow this growth mindset in its students.
Celebrating achievements, may they be big or small, is very important. Individual or team success is what helps us develop.
Creating a community where the values are shared and respected can help foster a positive culture. This should be driven by trust, as it is the glue that holds everything together. Tschannen – Moran, 2004 and Peterson & Deal, 2009a, believes that trust in a school is directly linked to higher student achievement.
Strategies to create a positive school culture
While most of the schools have a positive school culture, there is always room for improvement.
Shaping a positive school culture can be done through some of the below strategies – School-wide Positive Behavior Support, Restorative Justice and Responsive Classroom.
The SWPBS is a great way to improve the get to more positive school culture and increase all students’ social and academic outcomes. (Bosworth & Judkins, 2014) Applying this model, you reward positive behaviour and reinforce them.
Restorative Justice or Restorative Culture is about communicating effectively and positively while preventing conflict. It is a great “approach to preventing harm and conflict and activities that repair harm where conflicts have already arisen” (Hopkins, 2015)
The Responsive Classroom is meant for the teachers, and it is about teachers offering a caring, open, warm and relationship-based classroom environment. This can be either face to face or online.
Positive school culture is about collaboration, mutual respect, kindness, communication, encouragement and engagement.
Spark School culture
Our culture has deeper roots even though we are relatively new. We built our culture on the Transylvania College experience, and from then on, we focus on what our students need, and we want to develop further with their help.
We are here as teachers, but this is not our main job. Our main job at Spark School is to develop students into capable, caring and engaged adults. To do this, we strive to see beyond the grades and help students with their core abilities for healthy lives.
Our ten competencies also include the Compass Advantage characteristics. Thus, we strive to create this positive culture where students can learn not for grades but their development, appreciation, knowledge, growth, understanding and fulfilment.
The hybrid educational model can show students how they can be involved in lessons more than ever. Their voice matters, and apart from our courses, we offer them the opportunity to take on challenges that prepares them for the future.
The positive school culture we create together with our students helps us stay connected and be a community.
We do this through many social interactions activities:
Informal social interactions between teachers and students.
An accessible system that helps students be a part of teams.
We know that online or offline students see school as their second family, and it is because they spend so much time with it and they learn so many things. So making sure the culture inside the school is positive is essential as it is this which will affect students.
A positive school culture will create “self–sufficient navigators.” (Marilyn Price – Mitchell)
Positive school culture can offer students the best experiences and opportunities. “The key to successful school performance is heart and spirit infused into the relationship among people, their efforts to serve all students and a shared of responsibility for learning.” (Peterson & Deal, 2009)
Yes, it does need involvement, especially from the school part, to create a positive school culture, but the benefits outweigh the necessary work that needs to be done to get there.