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200 Educators Weigh In on How Administrators Impact School Culture

200 Educators Weigh In on How Administrators Impact School Culture

Administrators are often focused on making sure that their school’s culture is one that is positive, welcoming, and inclusive of all staff and students to create a better learning experience for all. As administrators work to build a positive school culture at their school, they often influence the intangible benefits a teacher receives at a school, increasing their retention. While you might not see it reported in school accountability reports, it’s not uncommon for teachers to leave the profession because of a negative school culture where they don’t feel supported or valued.

We decided to ask our community of readers on our blog their thoughts on what their school culture currently does well and what could be improved.

Our poll asked educators these two important questions:

1. What has your administrator done well to foster a positive school culture?

2. What is one thing your administrator could do to improve your school culture?

Let’s take a look at some of the responses we received:

Educators want an administrator who communicates well and maintains a strong presence around their school

Teachers want administrators to have a positive presence in their schools. While some administrators are doing a great job already, some educators mentioned that a lot was left to be desired.

Where Administrators Excel:

  • “He has created clear expectations; we have taken time during PL days to discuss ways to confront behaviors. We have carefully implemented PBIS [Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports], so we can adjust to each phase.“
  • “Listen well, support staff members, care about the students, support families – [all of this] fosters a community of adult learners.”
  • “Being visible and available to staff, students, and families.”
  • “Available, friendly, present around the building. He also started a weekly tv news show [about] school events.”

Suggestions for Improvement:

  • “Provide direction, organization, and communication.”
  • “Continue to communicate their ideas clearly to the staff.”
  • “She is in charge of multiple schools and does not make a personal appearance very often.”
  • “More visibility and connectedness with staff and students.”

Educators want an administrator who celebrates their success and provides opportunities for career growth

Educators like feeling appreciated and growing as professionals. Being celebrated for their successes and also being given relevant professional development sessions are important pieces of a school’s culture for educators.

Where Administrators Excel:

  • “Starting each weekly meeting with celebrations, personal or classroom.”
  • “She has teacher of the week and staff member of the week. During testing week, she provides lunch for all staff. She always finds a positive during observations.”
  • “Group discussions, book reading groups, foundations trainings.”
  • “Our principal has provided PD for Love and Logic as well as Zones of Regulation. We work daily on PBIS Tier 1 and 2.”

Suggestions for Improvement:

  • “Keep giving teachers time to see/go to assemblies or conventions or webinars in these areas.”
  • “Hold staff retreats and team building projects.”
  • “We've worked so much to get scores up, it would be nice to have a few more fun days, like 50's dress up day (we do Nerd Day) and more displays of students' work.”
  • “Assemblies to recognize good behaviors.”

Educators want to be heard and to be treated as professionals

Educators want to be treated as professionals and have their voices heard by their administrators. Here’s some of the feedback we received from teachers on how they are currently being supported (or how they could be supported more):

Where Administrators Excel:

  • “He listened to what the teachers have to say and took action.”
  • “She works hard to be an educated and motivated instructional leader. She reads every new book that pertains to middle school, poverty, etc., and she mentors us all the time.”
  • “Allowed some autonomy with curriculum in the classroom.”
  • “Everything! He has a positive, no nonsense yet fun attitude. He respects teachers, staff and students which makes us all feel valued and makes us want to do our best for our school community.”

Suggestions for Improvement:

  • “Continue to support teachers in the capacity of providing new and innovative best practices within the district.”
  • “Collect regular feedback from teachers regarding the courses and program to give to the ‘higher ups’ to ensure that the program is working for everyone!”
  • “Be positive. Treat teachers like equals. Believe what they say. Treat teachers as professionals. Before giving teachers something else to do, ask if it's necessary.”

Educators want more holistic support for their students

Educators are always looking out for the best interests of students, and this was clearly reflected in our poll results. We noted that educators valued school cultures that prioritized holistic support for students.

Where Administrators Excel:

  • “Our principal gets to know our students. He actually makes house calls for academic reasons and food insecurity. Moreover, he contributes to students who cannot afford prom. ‘Kids can't care about what you know, until they know that you care.’"
  • “They are in constant contact with the students and they also communicate well with teachers and parents; so that everyone knows and follows our expectations.”
  • “He is always looking for ways to better the students and he is always teaching them skills that will further their education.”

Suggestions for Improvement:

  • “Build consistency across the student populations.”
  • “Use our students to build policy and guidelines for our school. Give the students an opportunity to be involved and have some ownership in decisions being made.”
  • “Use stricter enforcement of the rules.”

Details of the Survey

Wondering about the 200 people who answered our initial survey? Find all the details below.


So, there you have it—we’ve taken a look into what over 200 educators want from their administrators when it comes to fostering a positive school culture. One thing that was abundantly clear from the data is that educators want to give administrators feedback and be a part of the process of improving their school/district. Consider all the ways in which administrators can begin to implement these practices and put a school or district on a path to a more positive culture.

Here's a list of our top resources around school culture to help you establish and maintain a culture that is positive for all:

Transforming Suspension Practices Using Restorative Justice

5 Ideas for Keeping Top Teachers

[Administrator Tips] 4 Simple Steps to Improve Your School Culture

For even more resources, check out the School Culture tag on our blog!