School culture is everything. Want our families and communities to feel welcomed and a part of the team? School culture. Want staff to take risks, think outside of the box, and create meaningful experiences our students will learn from and remember for life? Yep, school culture. Do you want our students to know their strengths, have confidence in seeking out assistance for their areas of growth, know the power in collaboration, and be empowered that their voice can bring much needed change in this world? It begins and ends with school culture.
To bring about the environment, the community mentioned above, we must create school and classroom cultures that breed and foster these traits. To bring about a school culture like this, it begins with the building leadership. They need to understand that they set the tone. If building leaders expect their staff to take risks, fail, learn from them, and get back up, leaders must model it themselves. The same goes for staff. They must model and live the expectations they have for the students in their classrooms. If they want their students to be creative, think outside the box, and take their learning into their own hands, the teacher and paraprofessional must model this and create a classroom culture that supports it.
School and classroom culture is a passion of mine. Ever since I was given the keys to my first classroom nearly 20 years ago, I knew that if any true learning and empowerment were going to take place it came down to the environment I created not only for myself but my students. Once I became a building-level administrator my philosophy did not change. The culture I inherited was in a very good spot, but there were aspects we could tweak to make us even stronger, more cohesive.
I’ve spent the past seven years as the Proud Principal of Oak Glen Elementary School. I’m currently just beginning my eighth year as I’m writing this. We have done some amazing things as a staff that has melted into our classrooms to create a positive culture amongst all. That is what The EduCulture Cookbook is all about! I am sharing activities and approaches that I have done with our staff, that they then bring to their students, to make Oak Glen a magical environment of learning experiences they will never forget!
Prior to writing The EduCulture Cookbook, I had been sharing many of our culture-building activities through social media for some time. After every new blog post, Tweet, or IG pic, I would get questions to expand more on what we did, how did we pull it off, and how did the staff and students react. I felt I needed to share more of what we did on a larger scale, and what better than checking off a bucket list item of mine and write my very own book! So that’s what I did, I began writing our stories, all of the laughs, the cries, the cheers, the moans, and a-ha moments we experienced together that have made our school and classrooms an environment where everyone belongs and succeeds!
One night, I was at our kitchen table, writing another chapter when my daughter, who was preparing herself a snack, asked if I was going to write a book. I told her hopefully one day, that was the goal. She then asked for some advice on the steps to successfully finish making her evening treat. I didn’t think anything of it. I stopped writing, helped guide her through the recipe, and then went back to writing. It was about twenty-seven minutes later that my internal oven timer went off! Why not write a cookbook!
How many times have we read an educational book, highlighted those strategies and stories that left a mark on us, plastered the pages with Post-Its, and then placed it on our shelf? Months later something comes up that we want to take on and we remember that book! Only we can’t find the spot that we need, we can’t find that section or sentence or two that is going to help us with what we’re about to tackle. I know this has happened to me on more than one occasion so I’m going to assume you have as well. I wanted to share our stories, our strategies, with other educators to help improve their culture, but I didn’t just want them to read the book and then tuck it away and forget about it. So, after I helped my daughter, I realized there is always one style of writing that we all return to time and time again...COOKBOOKS!
Each recipe will include my story and how everything went down. Think of this as the description of the dish you will be serving. The real beauty is in what is found after each chapter, a recipe card! Each recipe card will give the reader a breakdown of what is needed and how to pull off the recipe. And, as every great chef knows, a recipe is a blueprint, so what worked for me may need a few tweaks, a few extra spices, for you. Now I understand that The EduCulture Cookbook is not going to be carried around with every educator everywhere. That’s why each recipe card includes a QR code to bring you to an online copy of it! With technology, you will have access to each recipe card on your phone 24/7!
Now I may have the title of principal, but I am an educator, a lead learner. The EduCulture Cookbook is not written solely for school administrators, nor is it just for classroom teachers. The EduCulture Cookbook is written for any educator at any level that would like to positively impact and transform the culture they are in. When I serve these dishes to our staff I am always thinking and envisioning how they can add their own spices to bring it back to their students.
If you’re ready to start making positive changes in your classroom and school, to foster positive relationships where everyone is working together, pick up The EduCulture Cookbook: Recipes & Dishes to Positively Transform Classroom & School Culture!
Amazon Kindle - https://bit.ly/educulturecookbookamazon
Barnes & Noble Nook - https://bit.ly/educulturecookbookbnorder
About the Author
First and foremost, Michael Earnshaw is a father to two beautiful children, husband to the most amazing woman in the universe, and Dog Dad to the one and only goldendoodle, Ruby Mae. He spent nearly fifteen years as a middle school ELA teacher before transitioning into school administration.
Michael believes that in order to empower students and staff to know their strengths, own their areas of growth, be comfortable with collaboration, and confident in the power of their voice to change this world for the better, it all begins with trusting relationships and a positive school culture. Michael’s approaches are hands-on, out-of-the-box, and fun, all while fostering growth and learning.
Michael loves to share his vision and approaches to education through speaking at educational conferences, blogging, writing, and talking on his podcast, Punk Rock Classrooms.
When Michael is not trying to make the world a better place, spreading his message, and spending time with his family you can find him training for marathons with early morning runs, pretending he’s strong in his basement gym, and listening to punk rock and skateboarding.
Here’s how to connect with Michael Earnshaw or invite him to your next conference or professional development session:
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