School leaders can build a strong culture of belonging among their students, families, community, faculty, and staff through Social Learning Spaces.

Why Outstanding School Leaders Make a Culture of Belonging Top Priority

Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong? Too often this feeling begins or is exacerbated in school. As an educator, when you think about your school and the sense of belonging on the part of students, faculty staff, families, community…is there a strong culture of belonging already present? Or does it feel like everyone is disconnected? Yes, they share the same physical space, but other than that there is no strong sense of community. 

We are social creatures. We have an innate need to belong. In my video, I speak to the importance of belonging and ask soul-searching questions every learning leader must ask of themselves.

A sense of belonging works much like the concentric circles in a pond. It all begins from the center. The center is you, the School Leader. If the culture of belonging is important to you and you feel it strongly, then it will radiate out to your staff, faculty, and team. They will, in turn, amplify the culture of belonging to the community as a whole. But it doesn’t stop there. Each family who sends a student to your school will feel the equity, and sense of belonging. 

When we know we belong, we feel safe, accepted, and valued. We thrive on acceptance, inclusion, and identity. As a school leader, do you feel that? Do all those associated with your school feel that? Especially ask yourself:

Do all of my students like to come to my school? 

We are social learners. Being part of a social group in school encourages and motivates  students to go to class. When any student feels like an outsider or any group of students feel like an “out-group”, their mental energy is focused on monitoring for physical threats, discrimination, and stereotyping. It leaves little room for learning.

Do the families in my community feel heard and valued?

School leaders can help break down cultural, social, and economic barriers by promoting a culture of belonging. I found that having “parking lot” conversations with parents and community leaders was a great way to do this. It helped bring us all together.

Do all members of my staff, faculty and team feel a sense of belonging?

When a team feels your acceptance, your approval, your appreciation, they’ll develop a deeper sense of belonging with each other. They will know each other well and will be happy to look out for the best interests of each other

At the end of the day, whether your school advocates the culture of belonging rests on your shoulders. Is this a heavy burden? The beauty of it is that promoting a culture of belonging makes your job easier! Your school becomes everyone’s school. Everyone is engaged and invested in accomplishing the most for it and with it.

So, please let me ask a very personal question of you right now, how do YOU, as a school leader, feel? Does your team feel like they belong to each other? Can they speak and act on behalf of each other with full confidence and faith that they really are representing each other well?

You absolutely can create a deep culture of belonging for yourself, team, students, faculty, staff, families, community. I encourage you to reach out and schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me. I love ideating around how Social Learning Spaces can help learning leaders excel at their jobs and their lives. Let’s chat!

Louise J Santiago, PhD
Executive Coach and Organizational Consultant

Where Leadership is Intentional Work

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