Maryland State Department of Education
Division for Leadership Development
Leadership Learning Series:
Building Positive School Culture to Increase Student Achievement
1. Analyze components of school culture aligned to student and adult learning.
2. Examine and select tools for assessing school culture.
3. Determine strategies and formulate next steps for cultivating their own school’s culture.
The content of Building Positive School Culture to Increase Student Achievement is based on the Maryland Instructional Leadership Framework, Outcome #2: Align All Aspects of School Culture to Student and Adult Learning. The workshop focuses on providing participants with skills, tools, and strategies for working with instructional leadership teams and other school staff to create conditions where adults and students work together to create an environment that fosters learning.
Every school has a culture whether or not the principal is attentive to it or shapes it. Culture is comprised of assumptions, beliefs, expectations, habits, and values which affect every aspect of the schoolhouse, and consequently student learning. Principals make a difference in the development of culture. They must actively engage in the components of culture if they are to foster a sustained improvement in student learning and achievement. By effectively assessing the climate in the building and implementing effective strategies to maintain and/or improve the various cultural components, the principal facilitates a set of norms and values that focus everyone’s attention on what is most important - student achievement.
Participants will examine the importance of the role of the principal in shaping and maintaining the culture and climate of a school. They will engage in an analogy exercise designed to be used with their school staffs to help them understand the complexities of cultivating a positive school culture that is aligned to student and adult learning. They will also use Chapter 5 of On Common Ground to examine a belief system and strategies for ensuring that school-wide structures are in place for building a student culture of aspiration, effective effort, and responsibility. Participants will have an opportunity to examine Jonathan Saphier’s work that addresses the 12 Norms of a Healthy Culture in order to assess their own school culture.