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How does school culture influence teaching and learning?

Improve School Culture with School Day

To be a truly amazing school leader, we need to focus on helping students achieve real growth and success. When students know school is a place that is safe and supportive, they do better. They meet curricular benchmarks faster and garner more substance from their learning outcomes. The key to unleashing their potential lies in creating a positive, safe, and healthy school culture. 

How does school culture influence teaching and learning?

It's certainly challenging. How many of us stop every day to remember what it was like to be 5, 7, 9 years old? The things that scared us made our days frustrating or challenging.

To be a great school leader means to remember what this was like, on top of all our responsibilities to our colleagues, teachers, parents, community partners, and of course, the kids, in guiding them to grow to be the best they can and fulfill their potential, eventually leading happy, productive lives as adults with young learners of their own.

How can we best measure students' wellbeing? How can we make sure they're engaged, excited to come to school, curious to learn? What can we do to improve school leadership — and by extension, school operations and student success outcomes — other than what we're already doing?

Students do better when they know that adults care. With experience, we know students who may be lagging in problem solving or social skills may be having difficulties in their home life. We recognize the red flags when something is off. But it can be challenging to know if there's a problem at home or in the classroom, where the teacher can't keep an eye on every single social interaction the students have with each other. We don't know if a child is acting out because their home life is unsafe, or if they've eaten before coming into school. We can't know unless we find a way to get answers from little pitchers with big ears… and small spouts.

Ask them the right way, and they will answer

But how to figure out what the students need? How to ask them what they can't say yet as they develop and grow, especially when you have so much on your plate? Staff management. Bureaucracy. Ensuring the students are having their needs met so they can succeed.

We need to be passionate about creating great learning environments, or we wouldn't be in this field in the first place. We need emotional intelligence to lead well and earn the genuine respect of the teachers and staff under our purview. We need the judgment to make tough decisions, and the clarity of focus, the moral vision to understand the outcomes of these decisions.

We need resilience, both to handle the consequences of these decisions and the constant small crises of our daily grind. We must be motivational for both the children and adults we lead alike and dare to ask difficult — and sometimes, uncomfortable — tough questions to growing young ones who often seem braver than we do because they have curiosity, passion, and hunger for the world and learning itself that we need to keep up with too.

A simple, fast, and safe solution

Asking the right questions the right way is challenging. We don't want to intimidate the students. We want them to feel they can be honest with us, to trust that we will solve challenges that are so important to them. To feel safe, protected, and cared for.

A better way to benchmark student emotional wellbeing

Successful school days should:

  • End making the next day a new beginning, so we can build off the successes of the ones that came before while changing what wasn't working to make school a better place for everyone.
  • Be a safe place for students to learn from, and be guided by, adults they trust to care: to be honest and open and supportive;
  • Be a place where collaborative teamwork, recognition of individual and team efforts and successes together, and celebration of student differences and uniqueness is the norm;
  • Begin and end with a routine that fosters this environment of emotional safety, transparency, and support.

So, what is School Day? We believe our results better speak for themselves. Check out how others have succeeded in making their school days better with School Day here!

Henriikka Heinonen

Guest Writer
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