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Creative Strategies to Transform School Culture

Creative Strategies to Transform School Culture

Edited by:

August 2009 | 176 pages | Corwin
"Principals at all levels will find this book valuable. It translates espoused theories of climate and culture into practical ideas."

Boyd Dressler, Associate Adjunct Professor, Montana State University

"Focused, to the point, and direct—a quick read for a busy principal looking for ideas."

Leslie A. Standerfer, Principal, Estrella Foothills High School, Goodyear, AZ

Set the tone for educational success!

School culture is one of the most important factors in student and staff performance. Positive climates foster superior achievement, while negative climates discourage learners, educators, and parents alike. Based on thirty years of combined experience as school principals, staff developers, and educational leaders, John F. and Sheila Eller present a wide spectrum of unique, practical, and proven strategies to improve school climate and culture.

Divided into chapters that emphasize the main components of school culture, this guide allows busy school leaders to go directly to the section that best addresses their specific needs. The authors provide a clear definition of culture along with diagnostic tools to help readers determine the state of their school's culture. Chapters feature activities and ideas to:

- Foster personal rapport and collegiality between staff members

- Develop collaborative work relationships

- Improve staff meetings

- Address issues related to office operations

- Deal appropriately with conflict

Creative Strategies to Transform School Culture offers fun and inventive ideas for school leaders who are working diligently to create a collaborative teaching and learning environment.

About the Authors
1. Culture and Climate
About This Chapter  
School Climate Versus Culture  
Rapport, Trust, Climate, Culture, and Their Interrelationship  
The Importance of Trust  
Building and Sustaining Organizational Trust  
Strategies to Build Trust and Impact School Climate  
2. Diagnosing the Present Climate and Culture of Your School
About This Chapter  
Informal Diagnostic Strategies  
Formal or Structured Diagnostic Instruments  
Planning Templates  
3. Building the Foundation for Success
About This Chapter  
Working With the Office Staff  
Strategy: Planning and Developing an Effective Office Staff  
Creating a Positive Physical Environment for Staff  
Strategy: Through These Doors  
Welcoming Staff Back to School  
Activity: Getting to Know Your Teachers and Staff  
Activity: Welcome Back Barbeque  
Refreshments for Staff  
Business Cards for Staff  
Name Plates for Teachers  
Positive Message  
First Day Survival Kit  
Ice Cream Social Event  
Breakfast for Staff  
Wrapping Up the Classroom  
Book Fair Gifts  
4. Building an Emotional Base for Your Climate and Culture Improvements
About This Chapter  
Activity: Measuring Their Impact  
Activity: I Remember When...  
Activity: Descriptive Footwear  
Activity: The Boot Award  
Activity: Jack-O-Lanterns  
Activity: Block of Support  
Activity: Artifact Introductions  
Activity: The Thank You Blitz  
Activity: Candle Ceremony  
Activity: Bag of Positive Phrases  
Activity: Spread the Word  
Activity: Reward With a Smile  
Activity: A Novel Staff  
Activity: Floating or Traveling Trophy  
Activity: Jelly Bean Questions  
Activity: Snowball Fight  
5. Staff Meeting Starters to Build Culture
Activity: Good News  
Activity: Human Bingo  
Activity: Who's Connected  
Activity: My Piece of the Pie  
Activity: I'm a Card  
6. Activities to Couple With Tasks and Decisions
About This Chapter  
Activity: Future Set  
Activity: Carouseling  
Strategy: Leafing Out With Goal Attainment  
Activity: Comparison Diagram  
Activity: Buy What Is Most Important  
Activity: It's a Star  
Activity: Criteria Rating  
Activity: Progressive Problem Solving  
Activity: From My Perspective  
Activity: Ripple Effects  
Activity: Small Group Ripple Effects  
Activity: Sticky Note Ripple Effects  
Activity: Ripple Effects Contest  
Activity: Carousel Ripple Effects  
7. Building a Sense of Team
About This Chapter  
Interdependence, Community, and Their Impact on School Climate and Culture  
Activity: Toxic Waste Transfer  
Activity: Figure It Out  
Activity: Communication Problems  
Activity: All Tied Up  
Activity: Passing the Hoop  
Activity: Building a Poker Hand  
Activity: Hula Hoop Relays  
Activity: Circle of Support  
Activity: Rising Tower  
Activity: It Takes a Village  
8. We're Not Getting Along; Now What?
About This Chapter  
The Nature of Conflict  
Activity: Pack Up Your Baggage  
Activity: Parking Lot Meeting  
Activity: Transfer the Anger  
Activity: Ashes to Ashes  
Activity: Go to Your Corners  
Activity: Corner on Perspectives  
Activity: Victory Laps  
Activity: Half-Full or Half-Empty  
Activity: Compare our Perspectives  
Activity: Peeling the Onion  
Mediating Between Conflicting Parties  
Productive Influence of Conflict on a Team  
Conflict and Chaos  
9. Celebrating Your Success
About This Chapter  
Strategy: Planning the Celebration at the Start of the Initiative  
Activity: High Fives  
Activity: Banana Splits  
Activity: Gallery Walk  
Strategy: Trophy Case Displays  
Strategy: Get Out of Duty Cards  
Strategy: Success Thermometer  
10. Supporting Climate and Cultural Change as a Leader
About This Chapter  
Step 1: Understand Your Strengths, Weaknesses, and Inhibitions  
Step 2: Build a Seedbed  
Step 3: Plant the Seeds  
Step 4: Nurture Them, Watch Them Grow  
Step 5: Pull the Weeds  
Step 6: Harvest the Crop  

“A clear, consistent focus.”

Darryl L. Williams, Principal
Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, MD

“Focused, to the point, and direct—a quick read for a busy principal looking for ideas.”

Leslie A. Standerfer, Principal
Estrella Foothills High School, Goodyear, AZ

“Principals at all levels will find this book valuable. It translates espoused theories of climate and culture into practical ideas.”

Boyd Dressler, Associate Adjunct Professor
Montana State University

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

Preview this book

John F. Eller

John Eller has had a variety of experiences in working with adults over the years he has been in education. His experiences include work educational leaders at Virginia Tech University, developing teacher leaders in a Maters program, serving as the Executive Director of Minnesota ASCD, work as a principal’s training center director, a position as an assistant superintendent for curriculum, learning, and staff development, and several principal positions in a variety of settings. In addition to the work he does in training and supporting facilitators, John also does work in the areas of dealing with difficult people, building professional... More About Author

Sheila A. Eller

Sheila Eller has worked in a multitude of educational settings during her career. In addition to her current position as a principal in the Fairfax County Virginia Public Schools, she has served as a middle school principal in the Moundsview Minnesota School District, as a principal in other schools in Minnesota and Illinois, as a university professor, as a Special Education Teacher, a Title I Math Teacher, and a self-contained classroom teacher in grades 1-4. Sheila has also been a member of the Executive Board of Minnesota ASCD and has been a regional president of the Minnesota Association of Elementary School Principals. She has... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781412961189
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