How to Transform Your School Culture by Creating a Strategic Plan

Kickboard Back to School Guide_3

Currently schools and districts are challenged by our collective history, loss of learning, widening achievement gaps, high numbers of trauma-impacted youth, and increasing concerns for student safety and well-being. The good news is each of these can be addressed!

Our free guide, Returning to School: 10 Crucial Steps for a Positive School Culture, provides resources with an eye towards prioritizing instruction, addressing unfinished learning, and meeting the social-emotional and mental health needs of students and staff. 

Let’s take a detailed look at one of those crucial steps—strategically planning for school culture. 

Create a Strategic Plan for School Culture

Schools committed to excellence by creating a positive learning environment that is equitable and trauma-informed can feel confident in their efforts by including a few important initiatives in their back-to-school plan:

Perform a School Culture Audit

Determine a Shared Vision

Set a SMART Goal for School Culture

Develop a Schoolwide Behavior Matrix 

Determine a Shared Vision

A powerful shared vision that is designed collaboratively with members of the entire school community can provide inspiration and guidance as you strategically plan for a positive school culture.

When creating a shared vision, be sure to include teachers, leaders, students and community members. Including stakeholders in this cooperative process builds agency and helps strengthen support and commitment to your long term aspirations.

Here are a few examples of shared school visions:

  • To be a positive, safe and inspiring learning community where all students achieve, everyone takes care of each other, differences are celebrated and each and every person knows they matter. 
  • Our school inspires students to develop a love of learning, elevate their emotional, social and physical well being and reach their personal best. Students are empowered to cope with everyday challenges by gaining social awareness and developing civic responsibility and personal growth.

Shared Vision Protocol

Follow this protocol to create a powerful shared vision in your school community. 

  • Brainstorm: Have members of your school community, including parents and students, identify words and visuals that describe how they want their school to look, sound and feel.
  • Ensure all voices are heard: Participants write ideas on post it notes and place them on posters. Adults can record ideas for younger students.
  • Combine Ideas: Identify themes and similar ideas. Create one poster with all theme statements listed.
  • Vote: Each participant gets three dots to vote on the themes that are most important to them.
  • Write: Write a shared vision based on the ideas that received the most votes.


Set a SMART Goal for School Culture

While every successful school has a strong shared vision, they also need specific goals to help stay focused and successful. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timed) goals set the standard for good strategic planning and identify what success looks like for school culture. 

  • SMART Goal Example #1: We will develop and implement a PBIS Model by the end of the 2021-2022 school year, creating an environment in which behaviors are positively supported, measured by a positivity ratio of 75% or higher on Kickboard.
  • SMART Goal Example #2: By April 29, 2022 we will have reduced schoolwide Office Discipline Referrals by 15%


Goal-Setting Protocol

Make goal-setting a collaborative practice by including people from your school leadership and/or PBIS teams in the creation process. Then follow the steps below to set a school culture goal for this coming school year. 

  1. Review current culture data (i.e. positivity ratio, number of referrals) 
  2. Determine your top one or two priorities for positive culture change this year
  3. Set measurable goals that are aligned to the priorities
  4. Create a time-based plan that includes milestones to reach your goals


For more ideas on how to plan for a positive school culture, check out our free guide, Returning to School: 10 Crucial Steps for a Positive School Culture.