I am an administrator and I want to improve the culture of my school.

Culture change addresses the underlying causes of negative situations and behaviors and helps develop high-functioning schools with students and staff who are happy to be there. The work requires patience and persistence, but the rewards justify the effort.

Many methods and strategies can help guide you through culture and climate change. This toolkit addresses several of them, as well as culturally responsible practices in schools. These approaches can blend with the other school reform efforts already in place to create a positive school environment.

For each approach, we offer some initial information that will help you select the method that best fits your school and get started in planning your implementation. While you read through the information for each approach, we suggest using the following guided questions to help you make your selection:

  • What needs does the method help address? Are those the needs we have at our school?
  • What are the method's goals? Do those goals align to our vision and mission?
  • What does implementation look like? Do I have the structures in place, or the capacity to put the necessary structures in place?
  • What stakeholders will be involved in selecting the method and implementing it? How will they be involved?
  • Will I be able to sustain this method across time? How will I do that?

The U.S. Department of Education has provided further guidance in their document, Guiding Principles: A Resource Guide for Improving School Climate and Discipline. The Justice Center in the Council of State Governments released a report, The School Discipline Consensus Report: Strategies from the Field to Keep Students Engaged in School and Out of the Juvenile Justice System, that may also be helpful.

We hope you find this toolkit useful as you work to improve the learning environment for your staff and students. Should you have any questions or need any additional information, please contact Mary Teachout, School Safety Consultant, at (517) 241-7092 or teachoutm@michigan.gov.