So how, exactly, does a school with an admirable repute collapse (figuratively of course) in a year? Some stakeholders say it is a natural occurrence that happens in schools –schools peak and fall down. However, most who work in a building agree that is not the half of it; instead, it is the result of a sub par focus on school culture and the students living in that culture. Creating an enthusiastic and nurturing culture within a school is one of the most important pieces in a school. A poor school culture can deteriorate student learning and offer a prompt influx in discipline.
Now there are a lot of directions to go when attempting to raise up one’s school culture. Here is an initiative called #PennantCampaign that I recently began this week to address the physical decor of one grade level’s school culture.
History of the Idea
Like many great ideas, it started over a glass of refreshing beer and snacks with a colleague of mine after attending a day long professional development at another school outside of my district. I shared with my colleague the biggest take away of the school was its culture of everyone learning and its hall decorations. Everywhere you walked in the school had college and university pennants hanging. In some locations, there were posters and even small shelves made to hold mugs with college logos. All of the school represented were from all over the country.
The principal shared the idea came after seeing some data about how many of her middle school students moved onto high school and attended some form of higher education (or tech/trade school). The numbers were definitely not what she wanted to see. As a result, the school guidance counselor reached out to some colleges and got gear to decorate their walls to showcase options for students much earlier than in the past.
I have to admit, I never went back to see whether the decor improved test scores or percentage of students attending college. But…I witnessed learning constantly occurring and something different about the principal’s school culture.
Letting It Happen
Pushing my school administration to do the same resulted in each teacher securing a pennant for our guidance office waiting room. It’s decked out with schools that represent the East Coast and there are tons of college admissions materials. It looks awesome!
But…not everyone walks into the guidance department!!
Using the Power of Twitter
I resorted to Twitter and sent this simple message, as shown below, to every public and private school with a Twitter account that was close to my area.
Before you know it, I was getting retweets and favorites from a handful of schools. Some were sure fire lending a hand in the initiative and others wanted an email, which I gladly drafted, giving them more info about the project.
By late October, my goal is to touch base with every school in the USA asking for a pennant via Twitter. Over Thanksgiving break, my team is going to deck the eighth grade hallway with college, university, and trade school decor in hopes of taking one step in creating a positive climate within our building.