Increasing Student Performance by Building a Culture of Recognition
Why is it that educational leaders quite often don’t see the connection between creating a positive learning environment with attaining improved student results? We do not have to choose between motivated employees and increased student test results. We can have both. And in fact, motivated employees often help increase our student performance. (Chip Conley, PEAK).
There are 2 obstacles that leaders are faced when trying to improve student academic results while at the same time attempting to build a positive school culture.
The first obstacle is that some leaders do not know what the research says we need to do in order to increase student achievement. And if they do know what the research is, they are not closing the gap between knowing and doing. Many continue to do the same thing that got them in the place they’re in.
The second obstacle is many leaders are not quite sure how to build a positive culture. They tend to buy a program and hope for the best. Many do the “check off” strategy. The program is based on “activities” and as they go through them, the leader checks off the completion of each task. The worst situation is when the leader is not sincere and mechanically goes through the motion. Adults and students can easily detect insincere actions. And quite honestly, many leaders are fearful of showing their vulnerability in being their “authentic self”.
The work is messy and tough. Many would rather “buy a program” and rely on that mysterious silver bullet. And let’s face it, the accountability of holding stakeholders to high expectations is emotional, physically and intellectually draining.
Increasing student achievement has been the goal for most educators, no matter what zip-code children reside or what level of academics they are placed. And the more success a school has with building a culture depends on the leaders (which includes ALL staff members).
Here are a few examples you can ask yourself in the area of building a “culture of recognition”.
How well do you do the following?
- I initiate conversations with my staff/employees about their decision to become an educator. What motivated them? What excites them?
- I have introduced a way that my staff/employees can express appreciation and recognition for one another. This needs to be more than just a “check-off” activity.
- Instead of administrator-led conferences, all my staff leads their own conferences with me, sharing their strengths and areas for improvement based on criteria created by their peers and me. These conferences are held in their offices/classrooms.
- I organize, schedule and host a 2-3 day retreat for all staff members with the motto of “work hard, play hard”. Time is spent team building to increase student performance.
These are just a few of many other suggestions to help build a culture where all staff members want to return each day to be a part of a team who strives to excel.