Developing a healthy school culture takes will and skill according to author and school improvement guru Dr Anthony Muhammad (Pictured right).
Healthy school cultures are essential to provide equal opportunities and reduce the achievement gap, Dr Muhammad told an audience of 890 school trustees at the 25th NZSTA annual conference held in Auckland at the weekend.
Dr Muhammad said teaching skills and qualifications were important in producing equal opportunities for all students to succeed, but those skills would not be enough unless there was also a strong shared will to make the outcomes fair for every student.
“School boards in New Zealand, like the USA, are responsible for creating a school culture where there is a strong shared will to improve outcomes that matches the high levels of skill we expect from our teachers.”
The keys to developing a healthy school culture are moving the conversation from “me” to “we” and learning to see data as information not condemnation, Dr Muhammad said.
“Confidence that every student can learn and achieve at a high level becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Low expectations also become self-fulfilling. High-achieving schools are ones that succeed in creating that confidence in students regardless of whether they get it at home. This is the definition of a healthy school culture.
“Schools that condemn students because they come to school less prepared, less motivated, or less compliant have toxic cultures,” Dr Muhammad told the delegates.