Dr. Kip Sullivan Sul Ross State University
Marta C. Alvarez Desert Hills Elementary
Bruce D. Bramlett J. Howard & Associates
Ellen Brewer Americas High School
Joseph Dominguez Riverside High School
Monica Esqueda Faith Christian Academy
Charles Gonzalez Socorro High School
Rachel I. Guerra Ensor Middle School
Mauro Guerrero Riverside High School
Benny P. Hernandez Zavala Elementary
Dawn P. Hocking Desert Hills Elementary
Lonnie Powell Sudderth Elementary
Leadership in Educational Administration
Table of Contents
Do's & Don'ts
Feel Good Pages
The provincial policy has as its foundation the creation of a positive school environment. Creating a healthy school climate involves developing a school community where all stakeholders including students embrace a shared set of essential values and a clearly defined vision. It encompasses the way things are done and is a reflection of the values, beliefs, decision-making, and cultural and ethnic differences of school personnel, students, parents, and others involved in the school community. The establishment and maintenance of a successful positive school environment requires ongoing attention and effort from all within the school community.
Do’s & Don’ts
Our everyday lives have become so hectic and fast paced that we sometimes forget what is really important in this world. We find ourselves worrying over what is not important and neglecting what is. In contradiction, the tragic events of September 11, 2001, have taught us the priceless value of human life and have begun to make us aware that people’s feelings and lives are what are most important. When dealing with people it is best to remember simple rules called “do’s” and “don’ts”. These rules are simple actions and are founded on respect. Using them in the workplace ensures a positive climate where employees feel needed and important.
Do . . .
Greet your faculty in the mornings. A handshake and a smile go a long way.
Occasionally treat the staff to coffee and donuts. Sharing food is a great way to bond.
Listen to your staff. Everyone has something to say.
Tell your staff that you appreciate their work. Hearing words of appreciation lightens the heart.
Ask advice of your staff.. Good ideas can be found if they are sought.
Give praise when it is due. Sincere praise is always welcome.
Spend time in classrooms when possible.
Teachers appreciate administrators who show interest in their work.
Encourage innovative thinking, especially when it fails. Attention must be paid to the effort.
Set realistic goals. It is easier to work with light at the end of the tunnel.
See to the physical comfort of students and staff. A distressed body leads to a distressed mind.
Keep meetings short. Treating people’s time with respect shows that you respect them.
Be seen. An involved administrator validates other’s work.
Be flexible. Intransigence is a sign of weakness.
Treat your staff as professionals. Most of them are.
Have a sense of humor. A shared laugh is point of personal contact.
Follow through when addressing problems and concerns. A forgotten concern shows that one is shallow.
Don’t . . .
Don’t assign tasks without giving the authority to carry them through. This engenders failure and ill will.
Don’t ask for advice then ignore it. Even if it is not acted upon, show that it was heard.
Don’t criticize those who are not present. This demonstrates that you cannot be trusted.
Don’t rush to make decisions. Subordinates respect careful deliberation.
Don’t use hyperbole or platitudes. This devalues your words.
Don’t associate with particular groups. This will hurt your reputation and theirs as well.
Don’t promise more than can be delivered. People remember broken promises.
Don’t have too many meetings. Teachers’ time is to be valued.
Don’t miss deadlines. If you, do others will learn not to take you at your word.
Don’t ignore little problems. They are more important to some if not to others.
Don’t ask rhetorical questions. They are usually insulting or condescending.
Don’t manage with threats. Doing so insults one’s better nature.
Don’t try to solve all problems. Trust your staff, and they will come through.
Feel Good Pages
Perhaps the most important element in school climate is the people. This is the one resource that is guaranteed to make a difference. Investment in people results in effective change. If an administrator wants to create a positive climate in his/her school, working with the staff, students and parents is a must. Below are some quick and easy ideas for the administrator to implement that can affect the attitude of personnel in their school. The following t pages are some ideas that will make the students and parents feel good and create the positive climate the administrator is seeking for his/her school. Keep in mind that the activities should be varied in order to keep them from becoming mundane and unappreciated.
Faculty and Staff
1. Go around passing out cokes/snacks to staff during the day by calling them out of class, handing them a coke and giving out some praise for hard work and effort.
2. Seek personnel out to speak with them instead of summoning them to your office.
3. Give teachers business cards to let them know you see them as professionals and worthy individuals.
4. Write private notes expressing appreciation for special efforts.
5. Make sure every employee gets acknowledged at least once throughout the year.
6. Feed staff at inservices and meetings.
7. Give service awards unique to your campus. Ex. Ensor Middle School uses the Golden Eagle Award for special effort; SISD uses the Coin of Excellence Award given for extraordinary service to the district.
8. Give comp. time as a reward for personal time used for the job.
9. Send e-mails praising work efforts.
10. Provide free coffee/tea for staff
11. Have a family play day
12. Provide social activities outside of school. Ex. Discounted family night at amusement parks, movies, athletic events, etc.
13. Provide for free staff/faculty pictures.
14. Send out newsletters acknowledging activities and efforts of staff and special events your school is participating in.
15. Nominate your staff for teacher of the day in the city newspaper and for Who’s Who of Educators.
16. Give a Dust Bunny Award for clean and tidy classrooms.
17. Decorate faculty lounges and bathrooms to make staff feel at home. Ex. Scented soaps, hand lotion, tablecloths, plants etc.
18. Go on home visits of staff/personnel at the beginning of the year.
19. Include every faculty member on some type of planning team.
20. Assist in classroom activities. Ex. Go in and teach a lesson, participate in lab experiments or do a warm up activity to get the class started.
21. Visit classrooms daily.
22. Encourage teachers to visit each other’s classrooms.
23. Survey the staff about their wants and needs and then implement them.
24. Let the teacher’s experiment with new ideas.
25. Share and discuss research with the staff.
26. Provide for a massage therapist to come on campus and perform discounted massages for staff during conference times.
27. Make it a point to visit teachers who were absent to make sure they are feeling better etc.
28. Greet everyone in the halls.
29. Make it a point to walk the halls before school and after school to talk with faculty, students and parents.
30. Make it a point to keep their school looking clean by walking around checking out the school and speaking with the janitorial staff.
Parents and Community
Depending on the situation, one of the following activities may be just what you’re looking for. Before you begin, take a good look at your needs and then try to match the activity with those needs. It is very important to always follow-up the activity with discussion. Ask your staff to reflect how the activity relates to them and how they can grow from the experience.
Materials: A set of handcuffs for each individual. I usually use rug yarn and cut it in lengths as long as my both arms outstretched left to right. Tie a slip knot on either end so that it creates a loop big enough for each hand to fit into.
Directions: Have individuals choose a partner. Hopefully they will each have a set of handcuffs of a different color. Person A slips the handcuffs on both hands. Person B slips one handcuff on and then drops the other handcuff to form a "T" with their partner and then puts on the other handcuff. The object of the exercise is for the individuals to separate themselves so that they can each stand apart and the "T" is no longer holding them together.
Say: "Please listen. These are your directions. There are a few rules. First, THERE IS A SOLUTION TO THE PUZZLE. Second, neither you nor your partner may slip your handcuffs off either yourselves or each other. Third, you may not cut the yarn nor tear it. You will have 7 minutes to solve the puzzle."
While they are working make sure that you visit each pair as they work. Stand for a while by each one. The object is to give them an opportunity to ask you the trainer for the solution to the puzzle. Because this was NOT one of the rules you gave them. If anyone asks you for the solution, give it to them. If no one asks for a solution after about 3 minutes, offer it to any pair. Teach them the solution and ask them to both learn it. Then have them to go and make them- selves available to other pairs as they work. If asked they should give the solution to them. Hopefully everyone will have learned the solution.
Debrief: By asking a general question such as, "How did you feel?" and repeating their responses aloud you will get a general feel from the group. Then ask, "What were my instructions to you?" They will then repeat them to you. Then ask, "Did I ever say that you could not ask me for the solution?" They will usually moan and groan. Then you lead the debriefing to: “We typically put ourselves in a box and maintain perceptions that sometimes cause us to be stressful, frustrated, etc. What we want is for you to think out of the box and don't assume something to be such. You can actually put just about any twist to it to fit your training”.
A Brush With Fame
This activity is a simple one and usually takes about 10-15 minutes. You have your groups at their table take turns to share the following with their group. Have each group member at each table, within their group, tell about a time that they had a brush with fame. Everyone has had, at one time or another, a brush with fame.
Give them about one minute each to share. Once everyone has had a chance to share then get the group to reach an agreement which of them will share out with the larger group. Have them pick the "best" one and that person will share with the larger group. You will hear some very interesting brushes with fame.
This is good to do after lunch or just because. It can also be used at the beginning of the session. There is no debriefing to this activity.
This is a good one to do right after lunch. This helps individuals to get to know each other a little bit better. It's really good to do with groups that "know" each other well. This one takes about 20-30 minutes.
Materials: What you will need is one piece of paper for each person. It's better if all the pieces of paper look the same (like copy paper, etc).
Directions: You say to the group, "On your piece of paper write this prompt: 'by looking at me no one would ever guess that I...'" Tell participants that you want them to respond to the prompt with a statement that they do not mind sharing with the whole group. So don't say you are a convicted felon. AND DO NOT SHARE YOUR RESPONSE WITH ANYONE. Give participants a chance to respond to the prompt. Usually one minute is plenty. Next say, "Now, fold your paper into an airplane. If you don't know how to make an airplane just crumple your paper up." Once they've done this, have them stand in a large circle around the room. Then say, "Now, on the count of three throw your air plane or wadded piece of paper across the room." Then count to 3. After they all have been thrown have the participants go and retrieve an airplane or a wadded piece of paper and to return to their place in the circle. Next spend the next minutes calling on individuals to read their prompt and response. See if they can guess and if no one can guess have the real person own up to the response. Be sure you keep the group moving rapidly. Give them a second or two to guess then get the owner to tell who they are. It's a lot of fun because individuals get to find out something "secret" about each other. Some examples that I've heard: "By looking at me no one would ever guess that I used to be a hard core hippie." or "By looking at me no one would ever guess that I used to be a bar tender." Etc. There is no debriefing to this one because it's just an opportunity to get to know one another a little better.
This one is a lot of fun and is a good one to do right after lunch. It will take about 15-20 minutes depending on how big your group is.
Materials: One index card per individual.
Directions: Have each participant to write the following on one side of their index card, " I used to...(have them write the prompt with a response" Then have them turn the card over and write, "but now I...(have them respond to the prompt). Once they have done this have them stand and you have them count off 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, until everyone in the room is either a 1 or a 2. Next have the l's stand on one side of the room. Then have the 2's stand opposite them on the other side of the room across from the l's. Make sure that each person has a partner. Now what you'll do is start at one end and have the l's read side 1 of their index card. Then have the 2's read side 2 of their card. So in essence you have one person read, "I used to..." and their partner will read from their card, "but now I..." Continue with this process until everyone has had a chance to read one side of their card. This is fun and needs no debrief
Truths and Lies
Have each teacher write down three things about themselves. Of these statements, two must be true and one must be a lie. (The lie should not be an obvious lie.) The teacher reads his statements to the group. The rest of the group must guess which one is the lie.
Divide into small groups. Have the teachers establish a pattern with themselves. Stand in front of the group and have the remaining groups identify the pattern Example: earrings, no earrings; striped shirt, no striped shirt.
I Have Friends
Have the teachers sit in a large circle. One person stands in the middle as "it”. The person in the middle makes a statement such as “I have friends, especially those who are wearing running shoes." Those people who are wearing "running shoes" must jump up from their seats and change seats with someone who also has on “running shoes". The "it" tries to beat one of them to their seats. A new "it" starts the game again.
Tape the name of a famous children's book character on the back of each staff member. Instruct them to go around the room asking questions which will lead them to discover the name of the character on their backs.
Variation: Tape a name of another staff member on the back of each staff member. Use questions to identify the staff member.
Wallet Scavenger Hunt
Divide into small groups. Have the teachers look for specific items in their wallets. Give points for each item found. Examples: receipts from a particular kind of store, a prescription a coin from a certain year.
Variation: Have a school-wide scavenger hunt to find specific items in the school. This is a great way to get teachers into other teachers' rooms!
The Ties That Bind
Cut pieces of ribbon into lengths of approx. 5-6 inches long. Each piece should have a "matching piece". Have enough ribbon for each teacher to have one piece. Ask the teachers to find the person who has the ribbon that matches their ribbon. Provide each pair with a 5 x 8 note card. On the note card, the pair is to write their names and characteristics that they have in common with each other. Tie the ribbon onto each card. Bind the cards together with a common ribbon to form a school "ties that bind" wall hanging.
Provide each teacher with a sheet of copy paper. The teacher writes her/his name on the paper and folds the paper into an airplane. While playing "flying" music, the teachers fly their airplanes around the room. When the music stops, each teacher picks up the airplane that is closest to him/her. They are to send a nice note or do something nice for the teacher whose name is on the plane. They must also visit the teacher's classroom and leave a complimentary note.
Teachers are divided into small groups. Each teacher is given a "gift" cutout with his/her name on it. While playing Christmas music, "gifts'" are passed around the circle for each person to write a positive comment about the owner of the "gift". When the music stops, the "gifts" are passed to the next person to write on. At the end of the game, the "gifts" are presented to each owner.
Variation: This activity can be done seasonally by using Easter egg cutouts, hearts, pumpkin cutouts, etc.
Milling to Music
Prepare a sheet of paper (one for each teacher) on which there are four numbered questions.
Example: Describe three cities or towns in which you have lived
Share your favorite way to relax
If you won the lottery, how would you spend it?
What is your favorite movie?
Give each teacher a sheet with the four questions and ask them to stand. When the music begins, they are to “mill around" silently. When the music stops, each teacher is to stop and discuss question # 1 with a teacher who is standing close by. When the music begins again, they are to repeat the process. This is continued until they have discussed all four questions.
Teachers stand in a circle. Using a large beach ball, someone begins by tossing the ball to someone else. Whoever catches the ball should tell the person "thank you" and say one positive comment about that person. The game continues until everyone in the circle has had a positive comment made about them.
I Have a Dream
Place several colors of yarn strips (5-6 inches) on each table. Each teacher selects a piece of yarn for the activity and is asked to think of a "dream" for the school. Each teacher finds another person in the room who does NOT have the same color of yam that she does. They share their dreams with each other and tie their yarn pieces together. The two of them find a person with another color of yarn to share their dreams with. They tie their strings together. This keeps going until all pieces of string are tied together and a circle of string is formed. The teachers share their ideas with the entire group.
If I Could
Small groups sit in a circle. Each teacher takes a turn to answer questions similar to these:
If I could I would learn to...
If I could I would like to meet …
If I could I would travel to...
If I could I would spend more time...
If I could I would always...
If I could I would never...
If I could I would change…
Just Like Me
Everyone in the group receives the same number of jelly beans, M & M's, beans, etc. (4 -5). Each person takes a turn telling something that they have done that others in the group may or may not have done. Anyone in the group which has done the same thing may put a jelly bean, M & M, bean, etc. into the middle of the table. They must say, "Just like me." This continues until one person uses all of their items.
Fold tag paper into tent shapes. Write a staff member’s name on each tent. Leaving a blank space between the first and last names, have the person write a characteristic that they have which will benefit your team, staff: etc. Use these as name cards at staff meetings.
Divide the staff into pairs. Have one of the partners "interview'" the other partner for 3 minutes. Take turns. After both people have been interviewed, each partner pretends to be the other person and "introduces himself to the large group. You can use a prepared set of questions or allow each group to create their own interview questions.
Each staff member has a blank sheet of paper pinned to his back. When the music begins (use some “jivey” music), the other teachers begin to write positive comments about the staff member on the paper on his back. When the music stops, everyone stops writing and changes walking directions. The music begins again and the game continues. (A great song to play for this activity is "Splish Splash, I Was Taking a Bath!”)
Take a picture of each staff member and staple it inside a manila folder. Hang several open folders in a hallway or lounge for a week. Staff members write positive comments about the teacher inside the folder. Present the folder to the teacher at the end of the week.
Divide the group into small groups. Give each person a 3 X 5 card. Instruct each teacher to write his first name in the upper comer of the card. Place the cards in the middle of the group. Each person draws a card out of the stack and writes a positive comment about the person whose name is on the card. Return the card to the stack and draw again. Continue this process until each person has had an opportunity to write on each card. After the final writing, return the cards to the stack and draw one at a time. This time a member will read the remarks to the person whose name is on the card.
Human Dream Catcher
Have the staff sit in one large circle or break-up into small groups and sit in circles. Have one teacher begin by stating her name and something positive about him or herself. The person holds the end of a yarn ball and rolls the ball to someone across the circle. The process continues until everyone has shared their name and statement. If time permits, you can re-roll the "web" one by one in reverse order and answer another question.
Variation: At the beginning of school, the teachers state their names and share a dream for the school for that year.
Place four or five chairs in a straight line. Have teachers stand in the chairs. The teachers pretend that they are in a lifeboat and alligators are in the water. They are not to fall into the water. Instruct the teachers to line up in order by birthdays, shoe sizes, height, etc. while standing in the chairs.
Pats on the Back
Take a picture of each staff member and mount each one on a separate piece of colored construction paper. Hang several of these in a hallway or lounge for a week. At the beginning of the week, put cutout hand prints in each teacher’s box. Each teacher is to write a positive comment about each teacher who has a picture displayed on the wall. Staple the hand prints around the picture. Give to the teacher at the end of the week.
Give each staff member a balloon and a 3 X 5 piece of paper. On the piece of paper, they write three physical characteristics that describe themselves. The paper is folded and put into a balloon. The teachers blow up the balloons and tie them off. While music is playing, the teachers bounce and bop the balloons in the air around the room. When the music stops each staff member grabs a balloon, pops it, and reads the descriptions inside. The teacher tries to locate the person who is described.
Teachers bring a sack of five items that tell about themselves to a staff meeting. They tell about the items in the bag. Ask three or four teachers to present their “Me” bags at each staff meeting.
Variation: The principal takes a "Me'" bag into each classroom at the beginning of school. It gives the children an opportunity to know more about the leader of their school.
Try sharing some of these quotes with your educational community throughout the year. Perhaps you may want to adopt one as your personal or school motto. Another suggestion would be to add one to your email signature or letterhead. Quotes are inspirational but subtle and are a great way to keep a positive outlook.
“Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.”
– David Bly
“You can’t have any success unless you can accept failure.” – George Cuker
“The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground.”
– Winston Churchill
“There are two kinds of leaders: those who are interested in the flock and those who are interested in the fleece.”
“Always aim for achievement and forget about success.”
– Malcolm Forbes
“You gotta do what you gotta do.”
– Sylvester Stallone
“Every Noble work is at first impossible.”
– Thomas Carlyle
“The Wright brothers flew right through the smoke screen of impossibilities.”
– Charles Franklin Kettering
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
– William Arthur Ward, English Novelist
“Thoughts are energy. And you can make your world or break you world by thinking.”
- Susan Taylor, American journalist
“I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand.”
– Chinese proverb
“Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”
– Abigail Adams, American author
“He who would leap high must take a long run.”
– Danish proverb
“Never give up and never give in.”
– Hubert H. Humphrey, American politician
– Plutarch, Greek essayist, inscription at the Delphic Oracle.
“Great thoughts come from the heart.”
– Marquis de Vauvenargues, French novelist
“Teach the tongue to say “I don’t know”.
– Maimonides, Spanish born Jewish philosopher
“What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.”
– Aristotle, Greek philosopher
“Knowledge is power.”
– Francis Bacon, English philosopher and essayist
“The more we study the more we discover our ignorance.”
– Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet
“You can get all A’s and still flunk.”
– Walker Percy, American novelist
“Examples draw where precept fails, and sermons are less read then tales.”
– Mathew Prior, English poet and diplomat
Each of the following selections has valuable information related to school climate. Whether you need to know how to identify climate problems or want to implement positive changes, you’ll be able to find the information you need in one of these recommended documents. It is also recommended you share them with your entire staff.
Shaping School Culture:
The Heart of Leadership
Terrence E. Deal, Kent D. Peterson / Hardcover / Jossey-Bass Inc.,
Publishers / November 1998
Lifeworld of Leadership: Creating Culture, Community, and Personal
Meaning in Our Schools
Thomas J. Sergiovanni / Hardcover / Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers /
Revisiting "the Culture of the School and the Problem of Change
Seymour Bernard Sarason / Paperback / Teachers College
Press,Teachers College, Columbia University / April 1996
Current Perspectives on the Culture of Schools
Nancy B. Wyner / Paperback / Brookline Books Inc / March 1991
Creating Connections for Better Schools: How Leaders Enhance School
Douglas J. Fiore / Paperback / Eye On Education, Incorporated / January
Revisiting "the Culture of the School and the Problem of Change
Seymour Bernard Sarason / Hardcover / Teachers College
Press,Teachers College, Columbia University / March 1996
Culture of the School
Seymour Bernard Sarason / Paperback / Allyn & Bacon, Inc. / November
Culture: Stories, Symbols, Values and the Leader's Role
Stephen Wayne Stolp, Stuart C. Smith / Paperback / University of Oregon E
R I C Clearinghouse on Educational Ma / June 1995
End of Education
Neil Postman / Vintage Books / October 1999
New Schools for A New Century
Diane Ravitch / Yale University Press / April 1999
David Perkins / Free Press / May 1995
Human Side of School Change
Robert Evens / Jossey Bass / January 2001
The Way We Were
Richard Rothstein / Brookings Inst. September 1998
Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice
Maurianne Adams, Lee A. Bell, Pat Griffin / Routledge Chapman & Hall/ March 1997
Schools Our Children Deserve
Alfie Kohn / Mariner Books / September 2000
Brave New Schools
Jim Cummins, Dennis Sayers / St Martins Press / March 1997
Steps to Independence
Bruce L. Barker, Stephen P. Hinshaw, Jan B. Blacher / January 1989
Schools That Learn
Peter Senge, Nelda H. Cambro-McCabe, Art Kleiner, Bryan Smith, Timothy
Lucas, Janis Dutton / Doubleday September 2000
The Power of Their Ideas
Deborah Meier / Beacon Press September 1996
Time to Learn
George H. Wood / Plume August 1999
Victory in Our Schools
John Stanford / Doubleday Dell August 1999
7 Steps for Developing Capable, Responsible, Respectful, and
H. S. Glenn, Michael L. Brock / Prima Publishing July 1998
Every Child Can Succeed
Cynthia U. Tobias / Tyndale Publishing August 1999
Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge
Jim Schutze / Avon Books February 1998
She Said Yes
Misty Bernall / Pocket Books September 2000
A positive campus climate is an important component of the effective school correlates. Following are the essential characteristics of a school which possesses a positive climate and helpful websites to link to:
Positive school climates are enhanced when the following exist:
In the following website, you may find information on a variety of topics dealing with a positive school climate such as the ones listed under the site:
· Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, (1998). Theme Issues: Realizing a Positive climate, Educational Leadership
· Rudd RE, Walsh, (1993). Schools as healthful environments. Prerequisite to comprehensive school health? Preventive Medicine
· Bennett K, Offord DR, (nd). Summary of schools, mental health and life quality. National Forum on Health
· Lions-Quest International, (nd). The Importance of Positive School Climate
· Wyoming Department of Education, (1997). Accreditation Team questions VII. School Climate Assessment
· Wyoming Department of Education. Scoring Guide VII. School Climate Assessment
· Perkins BK. School Climate Data as a Tool for Change
· National Education Association. Cultivate safe and helpful climates by establishing strong and responsive adult presences.
· Purkey W. (1999). Creating Safe Schools Through Invitational Education. ERIC Digest.
· ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education, Safe Schools Coalition. Alternatives to Expulsion.
Critical Issue: Creating the School Climate and Structures to Support Parent and Family Involvement
More websites of interest . . .
The School Community
Bathrooms A Reflection of School's Climate
Enhancing School Learning Climate: Theory, Research and Practice
National Report Card
Positive School Climate
Relationship Between School Climate and Family Involvement
Jefferson Middle School - Where the best get better
Report Card on the Schools