Healthy Faculty Culture Is Essential to Creating Excellent Schools

Faculty culture plays a major role in student achievement. Students in schools with a healthy faculty culture perform better than their peers in schools with an unhealthy faculty culture. Yet, most school improvement efforts do not focus on developing and maintaining a healthy faculty culture. School leaders are often reluctant to systematically assess faculty culture out of fear that the findings may be threatening. Yet, to the contrary, the perspectives of faculty are among the most valuable to a school leader interested in developing strong leadership skills. To create a learning environment in which students excel academically, socially and intellectually schools must be vigilant about assessing and improving faculty culture.

One way to assess faculty culture is to survey the faculty about perceptions, beliefs, ideas and assumptions that ultimately create the faculty’s common perspectives and performance. Teachers complete it anonymously using a scale of one to five. The results indicate the areas in which faculty culture is healthy and those that need to be improved. Typically, a school consultant facilitates the process and uses the information to in the context of school improvement or faculty and staff development plan. Here are some examples of items that might be included in the survey.

  1. Teachers in my school are committed to professional growth. They participate in in-service training at school, attend conferences and workshops, and clearly convey in their actions and words that professional development is vital.
  2. Faculty members in my school establish high and realistic academic standards for students. One of our fundamental values is challenge our students academically while providing the support they need to be successful.
  3. In my school, teachers establish high and achievable social standards for students. They believe that the social and behavioral success of students is as important as academic success and that students’ social welfare is one of our basic values.
  4. Teachers in my school believe that their primary responsibility is to help their students be successful. They are devoted to their students and go the second mile to help them whenever possible.
  5. Faculty members in my school treat students respectfully at all times, including times when they need to address a student’s unsatisfactory behavior. They consistently model the behavior they expect from their students.
  6. Faculty members in my school value working together collaboratively, assisting one another, sharing resources and generally helping out whenever possible.
  7. In the faculty room, hallways and wherever teachers get together to chat, conversations are typically productive, cheerful and professional.
  8. I totally trust my teaching colleagues.
  9. I totally trust my school administrators.
  10. The administrators in my school actively support teachers and do their best to help them be successful.
  11. Teachers and administrators in my school communicate professionally with parents and seek to keep them informed about the school and their child’s progress.

Based on the results, schools can identify areas that must be addressed to improve faculty culture. Regardless of the instrument a school may choose to use, faculty culture assessment and improvement should be an ongoing part of school evaluation and goal-setting. Ensuring the health of the faculty is paramount to creating and maintaining an excellent school.

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