How To Inspire A Culture Of Strong School Spirit - ASCD
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June 2, 2017

How To Inspire A Culture Of Strong School Spirit

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      Teamwork is the name of the game when it comes to inspiring a positive culture riddled with school spirit. Regardless of whether you work in elementary, secondary, or post-secondary education, creating and maintaining a strong atmosphere of school spirit takes a lot of work from a team of educators. Administrators, teachers, and support staff sometimes find it hard to all get on the same page with how they think a school should be run, but almost everyone can agree that having a culture centered upon school spirit makes a huge difference for students.

      The following are just a few ways to inspire a culture of school spirit in your school. Since every school is a little bit different and generally already have traditions and themes in place, the following suggestions can be tweaked to fit your school’s unique dynamics.

      Create Year-round Themes

      One of the best ways to build school spirit and to coordinate activities and events is to have a year-round theme or set of interrelated themes. Get your team of school administrators, faculty, and support staff together before the start of summer vacation so that you can plan out what your theme for the next school year will revolve around. This gives everyone plenty of time over the summer to gather materials and formulate plans for related activities.

      You can design your materials for the forthcoming school year to reflect your theme. Decorate a bulletin board in a way that reflects your chosen theme. Also, you can tailor the way you reward students around your theme. For example, if your theme for the year centers around leadership, you can use images related to superheroes.

      Bring the Outside Community In

      Another great way to build a culture of school spirit is to bring in some community spirit. Invite members of your community into the school to teach your students about what it is they do within the community. For example, if you live in Salt Lake City, invite some Salt Lake City dentists in to talk about how important their work is to the community. They can talk with students about the importance of education in helping them achieve their goals.

      Short-term academic success is important, but bringing in members of the community (or having students take field trips to see these hard-working community members in action) can build incentive for long-term success. Students can realize that school is not just about earning tangible prizes, but that school is meant to help them establish and achieve their more long-term goals. Seeing people outside of the school community who have achieved some of their long-term goals can drive academic and personal success for students, thereby emphasizing a more positive learning atmosphere within the school.

      Celebrate Your School’s Diversity

      Each school has a unique dynamic, which sometimes gets lost in the demand for academic excellence. In reality, the world we inhabit is also incredibly diverse, which can be both wonderful and challenging, especially for young people. Therefore, it is important to celebrate diversity within your school. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) estimates that at least 45% of public school students are members of ethnically or racially diverse groups and that over 11.2 million of these American students speak a language aside from English at home.

      So, what can you do to make all of these diverse students feel truly welcome within your school without isolating other students? It is important to remember that you must advocate for all students. Making diversity part of the curriculum and encouraging students, families, faculty, and staff to engage in diversity on your campus can create a much more positive and fostering atmosphere for everyone.

      You can help school administrators, faculty, and support staff become more aware of diversity issues. Start a reading club in which everyone reads books that discuss diversity among students and how educators and administrators alike can work to resolve issues that arise and create a more welcoming school atmosphere for everyone.

      Teach Your Students About SODAS

      Finally, a great way to inspire a culture of school spirit is to teach your students all about SODAS. (No, not the drink.) The SODAS system is a way of teaching problem-solving skills. SODAS is an acronym for

      S – Define the SITUATION

      O – Explore OPTIONS to dealing with the problem

      D – Determine the DISADVANTAGES of these options

      A – Determine the ADVANTAGES of these options

      S – Settle on a SOLUTION and put it into practice

      Having strong problem-solving skills assist students with making better choices in the future so that they do not have to learn hard lessons in hindsight all the time. When students are able to make good choices in difficult situations at school, they are more likely to have successful outcomes and feel more positive about their educations.

      In all of these methods, it is you who must lead by example. The cultivation of a culture of school spirit begins with administrators, faculty, and support staff. Working together as a team, you and the rest of the school’s staff can create and build upon themes and activities for encouraging a strong and positive school dynamic. Welcoming all forms of diversity, teaching and modeling problem-solving skills, creating school-wide themes, and bringing in members of the community can inspire students to succeed and will help to develop a strong sense of school spirit.

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