The culture and climate of a school set the tone for educational excellence or mediocrity. Positive school cultures develop when the principal and staff are on the same page, working to best improve their school for students, families, and the community. Principals of effective schools model the culture he/she wants to cultivate through norms, expectations, values, and beliefs. However, culture cannot be single handily created by the principal—the entire school community needs to come on board. Here’s the good news! As a school leader you can impact your school by collaborating with staff to create a culture of reading.
Let’s create a culture of reading. Be the school leader who works with staff to collectively establish a school with:
- Classroom libraries stocked with the finest books that are relevant to students’ lives
- A media center that has an amazing and diverse selection of books
- Teachers who model and celebrate reading daily
- Students who always carry a book, eager to read at school and home
Time for Action!
Challenge yourself to consider how you might enhance reading in your school, so students, staff, families and the community think of your school as a place that values and promotes reading. Moreover, the buzz in the community celebrates your school’s culture of reading.
In my book, The Ten-Minute Principal (Corwin, 2019), I suggest ways to create an impact by using time more effectively. What is the first step you need to take to create a culture of reading? Start the initiative by carving out time to accomplish the goal. There is an old saying in education that is still true: if something is important to you, you will make time to do it or create an excuse for it not to happen. Reading is important! Find the time to collaborate with staff and develop a school-wide culture of reading.
A manageable way to begin to find time is by making 10-minute commitments to celebrating reading during part of your day. Consider doing each of my five suggestions at least once a week. It only takes 10 minutes to advance a culture of reading in your school!
- Visit classes and catch students reading—celebrate and positively reinforce what you see
- Read aloud to a class
- Post books you’re reading during the year on your office door, invite teachers to do the same
- Communicate to staff through your words, emails, or articles your commitment to independent reading and why
- Send video messages to families about the importance of independent reading
Planning is the Path to Your School’s Culture of Reading!
Your daily 10-minute commitments, if you’re consistent, will send a positive message to students, staff, and families about your belief in reading. While this is happening, think ahead and consider the following long-term questions for you to work on with staff.
- As a school leader are you consistently promoting reading and making the 10-minute suggestions part of your journey?
- Is your school schedule designed to allow for independent reading?
- Does the schedule and professional development give teachers time to meet diverse needs of readers?
- Could you consider organizing a staff book or article study to make time for professional conversations on reading?
- Does your annual budget adequately fund classroom libraries and your school’s media center?
- Are you working with your media specialist to consider how your school’s media center could transform over time to better promote reading? If your school does not have a media specialist how can you work with teachers to collectively promote reading?
Make it Happen!
All schools across America and the world should have a culture of reading. Every school can improve. Remember, the room for improvement is the biggest room in every house. Enjoy the journey of creating a culture of reading and observing students and staff develop as readers. Become the “reading principal” for your school!
You can watch Evan Robb’s TEDx Talk “Two Ways to Get Into a Swimming Pool” here.
Image courtesy of Evan Robb