Be relentless about creating, maintaining, and sustaining a positive culture in your schools. What students experience becomes their norm. 

We all know that many of our students experience norms at home that we would not want in our schools, but we must counteract that with a positive culture. That all begins with the relationships we develop with our stakeholders, most importantly our students. While high-quality instruction and rigorous content are important, relationships trump all of that. I am often taken back to a quote that my former high school principal said to me when I was in grad school. “They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” There is so much truth to that statement. The roadmap to being a great teacher with solid relationships with students is no different than being a great parent. It is filled with love and high expectations. 

Just remember moving forward that school climate is how teachers and students act when the superintendent is in the room but culture is how they act when he/she is not in the room. Focus on culture, not climate. Climates change from day-to-day but cultures will stand the test of time. 

I recently saw this graphic on Twitter posted from @JustinTarte.  This image sums up one of my favorite quotes.  “They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.  This quote has stuck with me over the years.  The first time that I heard it I was in graduate school working on my Masters in Education.  This quote is so true.  Even the perception of caring is important.  If we as educators who deeply care about kids don’t actually show that we care, kids will perceive that we don’t.

I remember back in grad school there was this professor that taught us about all the skills for classroom management.  One of the statements that he always said that we should take to heart is “Don’t smile until after Thanksgiving”.  I guess this was to show kids that you are all business and not to be messed with and that it would help out with classroom management issues.  Personally, I never bought into this.  The teachers that I remember in school were the ones that were funny and smiled.  

Kids need to know that their teachers are human and that they can have fun too.  It is possible to have fun with kids and smile each day while still having successful classroom management.  Perception of caring does matter.