To create a culture in a school community so every child feels valued and respected, a real commitment is required from district and school administrators, and school personnel. The commitment is backed by actual time and resources, an assessment of the needs and strengths of the school, policy and practice improvements, and a plan to implement, monitor, and evaluate the improvements. However, studies show that a common downfall when implementing new programs, especially in schools, is a failure to make that commitment.
Too often, the implementation team does not recognize how the existing school culture will need to change to accommodate the new approach. Lackluster results are often the end product when the implementation team:
- Underestimates the time needed to manage the program, perhaps relying on volunteer coordinators who, though often talented and motivated, are simply unable to commit the time necessary for successful implementation;
- Neglects to plan how teachers with already heavy workloads will integrate the demands of a new program into the school day; or
- Fails to get more assistance from top administrators even when they say it is important.
The research is clear: Taking the time up front to realistically assess staffing levels and culture, as well as equipment, space needs, and even policy changes, will pay off in the long run. So will administrators and personnel who “walk the talk” by attending trainings, supporting adequate staffing levels, and problem-solving complications that arise.