Can I Really Influence School Culture?

Does my voice matter?

How will I ever make an impact on the entire school culture?

I want to make things better but don’t know where to start.

I doubt the administration would even listen to me.

Those, and many more, are all things I’ve heard countless times. Heck, I’ve even said them from time to time. I talk about school culture in every presentation that I do. It’s THAT important. But I see the questioning looks and many questions that wonder “but can I really?”

My answer to that is a resounding YES!

Every single person on campus impacts the culture of that school. You see, I used to blame the principal. Now don’t get me wrong, the principal plays a huge part. I worked underneath 4 very different principals who each taught me powerful lessons. I worked under a screamer, my hero, the devil, and one who I testified in her trial and she went to jail. Yeah, interesting right?

But I quickly learned no matter how unique, loud, in control a school principal is, they don’t FULLY control the culture of a school.

You see, one angry cafeteria worker can make that child never want to return to school again.

One rude front desk receptionist can make that family never feel welcomed in their own school.

One bitter and angry teammate can make you re-think your entire career choice.

You see, we ALL play a role. And in the end the only person you can control… yourself.

So when you ask yourself, “Can I really influence school culture”….yes! Yes you can!

By pouring into others, accepting what you can control, and being a light in an often dark world.

So where do you even begin? Here are a few of my favorite ideas….

a) write a note to the teacher across the hall acknowledging all the hard work you see them doing, but DON’T sign your name. It isn’t about getting the credit.

b)whatever grade you pray you don’t have to teach (hey secretly we all have one, even if later we find out we LOVE teaching that grade), bake cookies or some other snack for them and give it to their team leader to pass out. Write them a note begging them to keep coming back to work everyday cause you don’t to be moved there haha! It’ll be a good laugh and a nice treat.

c) ask the school secretary what their favorite (non-alcoholic) drink is and one day surprise them with it! They deal with more vitriol than any other person on campus!

d) acknowledge the hard work of the nurse, attendance clerk, librarian.

e) learn the names of those who work in the cafeteria, with maintenance, and with custodial. Greet them BY NAME. Pronounce it correctly and smile. They work so incredibly hard and are often looked over as essential to the team, though they are.

f) go out to dinner with your team

g) send your administration a note letting them know you see the work they’re doing and be specific in why you appreciate them. Administration is an incredible heavy and lonely job.

h) tell people “good morning”, “good afternoon”, or “hello” when you walk by them in the hall. Every time.

i) smile, for goodness sakes, smile.

You may feel like you work in a incredibly toxic environment, and hey you may be right!! But you know what? No matter how much we WANT to leave, sometimes there are reasons we aren’t quite yet able to. But if you are in a place that is toxic, and you’ve done all you feel you can do, it’s ok to walk away too.

No matter if you love where you work or dread going in each day, YOU help make that culture what it is. So focus on what you can control. You can’t control the emotions, words, or actions of others. But you CAN control what YOU say, feel, and do.

And the research shows, when you show gratitude to others it actually increases your mood more than theirs.

So get out there, try one of the nine ideas above, and start making waves.

**I have TWO all new culture online courses! One covers classroom culture and one over campus culture! You’ll get lifetime access to the course with hours of content and printables. Check them out here:

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