Culture of High Expectations


Underperforming schools often suffer from entrenched cultures of low expectations. Turning around a failing school culture requires organizational restructuring that unlocks a radical reimagining of how students and adults interact, how students are supported and served, and how a positive community can be established and maintained. Ultimately, the solution to a failing culture is high-quality leadership capable of investing the school community in the vision of the reimagined school. With support from SEN coaches, school leaders implement systems and structures that improve the experience of adults and kids in their schools, making them safer and healthier learning spaces.

A positive school culture focused around celebration is a must for building momentum in a turnaround setting.

It is imperative that revamped school cultures foster and maintain in all students a fundamental trust that the school has their best interests at heart. This is a crucial element in any social contract in which community members agree to meet the expectations set forth by the institution. Furthermore, the school culture must instill in students the unequivocal belief that success in school can lead to a better life, as many students in failing schools often have few examples of family members or people in their social network who have seen benefits in their lives from education.

At SEN, we believe in a family-like school atmosphere in which students are taught to meet expectations over time, and are only excluded from the school community as an absolute last resort. Strong relationships are at the heart of this approach, and our programs proactively develop meaningful connections between teachers and students across the community.

“There has been a shift to a stronger school with a more purposeful culture of learning...focused on what are we doing to drive and improve instruction.”

— Matt Mangan, Small Learning Community Leader @ Denby High School