3 Ways to Build Your School Culture

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What is culture, and how can it be measured?

If it could be codified, could it be improved?

Every organization has a culture, whether it’s intentionally developed or not, and as we worked with thousands of students and educators from across the world, we studied the best practices of the most effective schools and identified three components that all schools are capable of - components that the best school cultures exemplify.


3 Key Components of a Strong Culture:

Self-Efficacy, Growth Mindset, and Technical Literacy

To understand where school cultures stand on these three metrics, we created a free assessment tool your students can take to help quantify your current culture. Knowing where you are can help you determine where to go, and implementing the following best practices will improve your score, improve your culture, and improve your students’ education experience.

1. Keys to Improving Self-Efficacy

  • Provide problems to solve, not tasks to complete

    • We rob our students of the fun and fulfillment of education when we provide pre-established, step-by-step instructions on how to do everything. Yes, there are principles and frameworks to work within, but exploration before instruction is proven to improve comprehension of conceptual topics (research on this concept HERE).

  • Create small wins within big problems

    • Identifying small problems to solve within a larger goal builds increases self-efficacy to continue progressing toward more complex challenges. Each problem solved provides endorphin hits to retain engagement and increase motivation. Game theory understands this, with achievements and levels to rank-up on the journey of beating a game (research on this concept HERE).

2. Keys to Improving Growth Mindset

  • Not everyone is a winner

    • Why climb if you’re always at the top of the mountain? Failure, within the right context, is foundational to growth. A fear of failure, or a lack of it, will prevent students from pushing their boundaries beyond where they know they can succeed, causing them to miss out on maximum progress (research on this HERE).

  • Reflect on experience

    • Experiential learning is widely understood to be impactful, but taking time to verbalize what went well and what wrong in experiences is just as important as the experience itself in order to grow from it (research on this HERE).

3. Keys to Improving Technical Literacy

  • Crowdsource learning

    • With unique learning styles, speeds, and interests of an entire class, how can one teacher appeal to, engage, or help the entire group? By appealing to one type of learner, they are neglecting another. However, with the internet full of all the knowledge in the world and available in a variety of mediums, and students who can help each other one-on-one, specific skill gaps can more easily be identified and overcome (more information on the concept of peer learning HERE).

  • Allow for Creativity

    • Providing a tool without an outcome prevents a mindset that limits the scope of use for that tool. For example, if students do science experiments just to complete the given tasks and get good grades on a test, then the use of science will be perceived as a means to a grade, and the knowledge of science will likely be limited to the context of the questions asked on the test. Imagine instead an environment where experiments could take place and the principles previously discussed (problems to solve, small accomplishments, a risk of failure, reflection, and crowdsourced learning) were present to have students discover - in a much more meaningful way - the technical skills needed in the process of solving a real problem (research on this HERE).

Our Students Leading Education (SLED) program focuses on creating a culture of student problem solvers to increase self-efficacy, growth mindset, and technical literacy. You can learn more about the amazing work our SLED chapters have done and start a conversation with us on bringing SLED to your district at studentled.com

Joey Ruse