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Creative Strategies to Transform School Culture

Set the tone for educational success!

School culture is an important factor in student and staff performance. Based on their extensive experience as school principals, staff developers, and educational leaders, the authors present unique, practical, and proven strategies to improve school culture. Organized to allow busy school leaders to go directly to the section that best addresses their specific needs, this guide features activities and ideas related to the main components of school culture, including:

  • Fostering rapport and collegiality between staff members
  • Developing collaborative work relationships
  • Improving staff meetings
  • Addressing issues related to office operations
  • Dealing appropriately with conflict

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12, Elementary, Secondary
  • ISBN: 9781412961189
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2009
  • Page Count: 176
  • Publication date: August 11, 2009

Price: $39.95

Price: $39.95
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"Principals at all levels will find this book valuable. It translates espoused theories of climate and culture into practical ideas."
—Boyd Dressler, Associate Adjunct Professor
Montana State University

"Focused, to the point, and direct—a quick read for a busy principal looking for ideas."
—Leslie A. Standerfer, Principal
Estrella Foothills High School, Goodyear, AZ

Set the tone for educational success!

School culture is one of the most important factors in student and staff performance. Positive climates foster superior achievement, while negative climates discourage learners, educators, and parents alike. Based on thirty years of combined experience as school principals, staff developers, and educational leaders, John F. and Sheila Eller present a wide spectrum of unique, practical, and proven strategies to improve school climate and culture.

Divided into chapters that emphasize the main components of school culture, this guide allows busy school leaders to go directly to the section that best addresses their specific needs. The authors provide a clear definition of culture along with diagnostic tools to help readers determine the state of their school's culture. Chapters feature activities and ideas to:

  • Foster personal rapport and collegiality between staff members
  • Develop collaborative work relationships
  • Improve staff meetings
  • Address issues related to office operations
  • Deal appropriately with conflict

Creative Strategies to Transform School Culture offers fun and inventive ideas for school leaders who are working diligently to create a collaborative teaching and learning environment.

Key features

  • Practical and proven ideas, strategies, and activities
  • Organized into common themes of collaboration, working through conflict, problem solving, effective decision making, building a strong learning community, and improving work climate


John F. Eller photo

John F. Eller

John Eller has had a variety of experiences in working with adults over the years he has been in education. His experiences include work educational leaders at Virginia Tech University, developing teacher leaders in a Maters program, serving as the Executive Director of Minnesota ASCD, work as a principal’s training center director, a position as an assistant superintendent for curriculum, learning, and staff development, and several principal positions in a variety of settings. In addition to the work he does in training and supporting facilitators, John also does work in the areas of dealing with difficult people, building professional learning communities, employee evaluation, conferencing skills, coaching skills, strategic planning strategies, school improvement planning and implementation, differentiated instruction, leadership for differentiation, employee recruitment, selection, and induction, supervisory skills, and effective teaching strategies.

He has his PhD. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Loyola University-Chicago and his MS in Educational Leadership from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. John has authored books on substitute teaching, wrote The Training Video Series for the Professional School Bus Driver, The principals’ Guide to Custodial Supervision contributes articles for the publication Superintendents Only. He wrote Effective Group Facilitation in Education: How to Energize Meetings and Manage Difficult Groups, and co-authored So Now You’re the Superintendent, the best selling, Energizing Staff Meetings and Creative Strategies to Improve School Culture all through Corwin Press.

Sheila Eller photo

Sheila Eller

Sheila Eller has worked in a multitude of educational settings during her career. In addition to her current position as a principal in the Fairfax County Virginia Public Schools, she has served as a middle school principal in the Moundsview Minnesota School District, as a principal in other schools in Minnesota and Illinois, as a university professor, as a Special Education Teacher, a Title I Math Teacher, and a self-contained classroom teacher in grades 1-4. Sheila has also been a member of the Executive Board of Minnesota ASCD and has been a regional president of the Minnesota Association of Elementary School Principals. She has advanced coursework in educational administration and supervision from St. Cloud State University, her Master’s Degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and a Bachelors Degree from Iowa State University.

Sheila is a regular presenter at the ASCD National Conventions sharing her expertise on the topic of effective staff meetings and multiage instruction. While she served as a professor at National-Louis University in Evanston Illinois, she worked on the development team for a classroom mathematics series that was adopted by several districts in the region. Her classroom and instructional techniques were featured on a video that was produced as a complement to this series. She works with educators in developing energized staff meetings, school improvement initiatives, multiage teaching strategies, employee supervision, and other teaching and learning content areas. In addition to this book, Sheila co-authored the best-selling Energizing Staff Meetings and Creative Strategies to Improve School Climate. through Corwin Press.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



About the Authors

1. Culture and Climate

About This Chapter

School Climate Versus Culture

Rapport, Trust, Climate, Culture, and Their Interrelationship

The Importance of Trust

Building and Sustaining Organizational Trust

Strategies to Build Trust and Impact School Climate


2. Diagnosing the Present Climate and Culture of Your School

About This Chapter

Informal Diagnostic Strategies

Formal or Structured Diagnostic Instruments

Planning Templates


3. Building the Foundation for Success

About This Chapter

Working With the Office Staff

Strategy: Planning and Developing an Effective Office Staff

Creating a Positive Physical Environment for Staff

Strategy: Through These Doors

Welcoming Staff Back to School

Activity: Getting to Know Your Teachers and Staff

Activity: Welcome Back Barbeque

Refreshments for Staff

Business Cards for Staff

Name Plates for Teachers

Positive Message

First Day Survival Kit

Ice Cream Social Event

Breakfast for Staff

Wrapping Up the Classroom

Book Fair Gifts


4. Building an Emotional Base for Your Climate and Culture Improvements

About This Chapter

Activity: Measuring Their Impact

Activity: I Remember When...

Activity: Descriptive Footwear

Activity: The Boot Award

Activity: Jack-O-Lanterns

Activity: Block of Support

Activity: Artifact Introductions

Activity: The Thank You Blitz

Activity: Candle Ceremony

Activity: Bag of Positive Phrases

Activity: Spread the Word

Activity: Reward With a Smile

Activity: A Novel Staff

Activity: Floating or Traveling Trophy

Activity: Jelly Bean Questions

Activity: Snowball Fight


5. Staff Meeting Starters to Build Culture

Activity: Good News

Activity: Human Bingo

Activity: Who's Connected

Activity: My Piece of the Pie

Activity: I'm a Card


6. Activities to Couple With Tasks and Decisions

About This Chapter

Activity: Future Set

Activity: Carouseling

Strategy: Leafing Out With Goal Attainment

Activity: Comparison Diagram

Activity: Buy What Is Most Important

Activity: It's a Star

Activity: Criteria Rating

Activity: Progressive Problem Solving

Activity: From My Perspective

Activity: Ripple Effects

Activity: Small Group Ripple Effects

Activity: Sticky Note Ripple Effects

Activity: Ripple Effects Contest

Activity: Carousel Ripple Effects


7. Building a Sense of Team

About This Chapter

Interdependence, Community, and Their Impact on School Climate and Culture

Activity: Toxic Waste Transfer

Activity: Figure It Out

Activity: Communication Problems

Activity: All Tied Up

Activity: Passing the Hoop

Activity: Building a Poker Hand

Activity: Hula Hoop Relays

Activity: Circle of Support

Activity: Rising Tower

Activity: It Takes a Village


8. We're Not Getting Along; Now What?

About This Chapter

The Nature of Conflict

Activity: Pack Up Your Baggage

Activity: Parking Lot Meeting

Activity: Transfer the Anger

Activity: Ashes to Ashes

Activity: Go to Your Corners

Activity: Corner on Perspectives

Activity: Victory Laps

Activity: Half-Full or Half-Empty

Activity: Compare our Perspectives

Activity: Peeling the Onion

Mediating Between Conflicting Parties

Productive Influence of Conflict on a Team

Conflict and Chaos


9. Celebrating Your Success

About This Chapter

Strategy: Planning the Celebration at the Start of the Initiative

Activity: High Fives

Activity: Banana Splits

Activity: Gallery Walk

Strategy: Trophy Case Displays

Strategy: Get Out of Duty Cards

Strategy: Success Thermometer


10. Supporting Climate and Cultural Change as a Leader

About This Chapter

Step 1: Understand Your Strengths, Weaknesses, and Inhibitions

Step 2: Build a Seedbed

Step 3: Plant the Seeds

Step 4: Nurture Them, Watch Them Grow

Step 5: Pull the Weeds

Step 6: Harvest the Crop






Price: $39.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.