21 Keys for Positive School Climate and Culture

Session notes from “21 Keys for Positive School Climate Culture,” presented by Ryan Eckart and Keith Kuwik.

What was the speakers’ main message?

The main message for this session was to create moments for your staff and students that will help create connection and relationships. Kuwik reminded everyone to “Be visible, be involved, be in classrooms, and to make moments for your staff and students.”

What strategies will you will implement immediately?

The entire session listed out examples of actions leaders can immediately use, tweak, or build on for their staff. There were several strategies they named that I would like to immediately implement:

  • Moving-Up Day: At the end of the year, each grade goes to the next grade for 30 minutes. The whole school does it at the same time and they get to meet a teacher, see a classroom, and start making connections for the next school year. Fifth-grade students get to go back to kindergarten to see the teachers that help them start their elementary years.
  • Twice a year, the principal leaves a note for each staff member (name on the front, note on the back) that is taped in a central location. Each note is a quick thank you for something specific to that person.
  • Color Run. This afterschool event created a sense of community and fun. Not every event has to be serious!
  • Math Bingo
  • Principal read alouds in the evening on Facebook Live or Zoom a couple of times a year to help build community with students and their families.

What is one strategy that will help you with instructional leadership?

One strategy mentioned was Math Bingo for the entire school. One week a year, the entire school would spend 15-20 minutes every morning to play Math Bingo. The answers “clues” were all the same but the way to find those answers was appropriate for each grade level. Every class has the same board and as soon as the class wins, they all yell “BINGO.” Teachers log time of win, and at the end of the week, winners get prizes. I love this activity that builds excitement around math and shows that math is fun, too!

What is one idea that you want to learn more about?

I would like to learn more about how the students run the live school broadcast/announcements.

What is one resource you will check out?

Snow Day! By Patricia Lakin This sounds like a great read aloud to add to my collection!

I can’t wait to tell my teachers about this idea:

I can’t wait to tell my teaches about Move-Up Day! I love how this activity can build community and support “all of our students” not just “my students.”

What are some relevant or surprising stats you learned?

This session had anecdotal information, but the pictures and videos demonstrated buy-in and excitement about the activities that helped build a positive culture. Hearing how students got excited about some of the activities that were meant for teachers, reinforced the idea of a positive community.

Lyn Marsilio is principal of Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, Virginia.