Surveying Campus Culture

3 Lessons Easy

About this course

Reading: Culture Survey

Let's get to your survey of the land. We always hear about the ability to think outside the box . It's ironic, but the phrase itself is so cliche that it's lost its meaning. But the true art of leadership is being able to innovate Inside  "the box".


The box is the culture of your school. Powerful innovation it being able to know the capacity of your school, the capacity for change, the capacity for leadership, and to know how far to push just beyond that capacity to expand it.


Too Far Beyond

It's a dreadful mistake to try to push significantly beyond capacity. Many excellent careers are sidetracked from this approach. The frustration and friction together will result in culture toxicity, and the leader will be blamed. 


Aiming Below

On the flipside, there's a significant mistake in aiming below your school's capacity. This strategy is usually chosen because it's safe. That hope is that over time it will increase the capacity of the school culture. That rarely is the result. More often, this approach maintains status quo.


How to Know Capacity for Change

Knowing your school's capacity for change is the most critical benefit of surveying school culture.  Your survey of the land gives you a picture of your school's capacity. And that capacity is determined by the culture.


The great thing is, culture can shift. It can change, for better or for worse.  And the truth is it is always changing. With or without us. Becoming healthier Or toxic. Let's make it  with us. 

Quotes & Research: Culture and Capacity for Change

Three attributes of school culture are 1) teacher professionalism, 2) academic press, and 3) community engagement. Academic press has the highest impact when compared to English and Math scores. Academic press is the overall instructional climate as a serious, orderly, and focused learning environment.

- Tschannen-Moran, Parish, and DiPaulo (2006)


Administrators often fall into these 6 traps when attempting to increase a serious, orderly, and focused tone:

  1. Belief that being tough is helpful.
  2. Focused on the lowest performing staff.
  3. Looking for quick fixes.
  4. Silver bullets (i.e. school uniforms, master schedule, new program).
  5. Finding a solution from an outside expert.
  6. Increasing the number of procedures.

- Horner, Sugai, and Horner (2000)


School culture is what schools do and how they do it.

- Rodriguez (2008)


Only in a competent system can administrators and teacher discern what "can be" by bringing to the surface the school's underlying purpose and the stakeholders' deeply held beliefs .

- Zmuda, Kuklis, and Kline (2004)


Of the 21 leadership responsibilities in Marzano's meta-analysis, the two with the highest impact on student achievement were: situational awareness and flexibility.

  • Situational awareness is being aware of the details and undercurrents in the running of the school and uses this information to address current and potential problems.
  • Flexibility is the ability to adapt leadership behavior to the needs of the current situation and being comfortable with dissent.

- Marzano, Waters, McNulty (2005)


The fundamental flaw in most innovators' strategies is that they focus on their innovations, on what they are trying to do - rather than understanding how the larger culture, structures, and norms will react to their efforts.

- Peter Senge (1999)


Organizational culture will change with leadership  actions ; speeches and announcements are not enough. 

-Douglas Reeves (2009)

Surveys: Your Campus Culture Surveys


  • Send a baseline survey to gather broad data for summer analysis and dynamic team creation.
  • Use this data to determine priorities for September.


  • Give your "first" beginning of year campus culture survey.
  • Use the data to involve the campus in determining priorities for improvement


  • Checkpoint on one priority target.
  • Celebrate growth in this area.
  • Make necessary adjustments.


  • Give your "first" end of year campus culture survey.
  • Involve teams in determining the areas to celebrate and areas for growth in the next school year.

Save and use the campus culture surveys below. The surveys can be recreated in your Google drive, Excel online, or your favorite survey software. Adjust as needed to reflect your foundation factors.

References & Resources

Preview on Amazon

Marzano, Waters, & McNulty (2005). School Leadership that Works: From Research to Results


Reeves (2009). Leading Change in Your School: How to Conquer Myths, Build Commitment, and Get Results


Zmuda, Kuklis, & Kline (2004). Transforming Schools: Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement


Download PDFs

Rodriguez 2008 School Culture


Horner, Sugai, Anderson 2010 Evidence


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*Amazon (TM) contributes a portion of all purchases to the development and delivery of this course.

Video: Google Forms

Video: Microsoft Forms

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Course Structure


Step 1: Custom Designed

There are so many variables in the making of a strong school culture that it's easy to mistake the starting point. That's the focus in step one - determining what it is you are designing.

And it is design - not happenchance.


Step 2: Determine Foundation Factors

In the 2nd lesson of the Surveying Campus Culture course, you will explore your own foundation factors for your school's improvement. These factors will be used in step 3.


Step 3: Survey the Property

This final lesson is when we survey the property. It is the starting point for lasting school success. Quotes, research, and your 3 culture surveys are in this lesson. Experts from Microsoft and Google share insights as well.