Our friend and colleague, Matt Langdon, founder of The Hero Construction Company, kindly gave us permission to reprint his essay, Changing a Culture. Matt’s company helps teach kids about the heroes within them and how to help their heroic selves thrive.
This year, it has really hit home that I’ve become part of the culture at a few of the schools I visit. When I walk in, staff welcome me, kids whisper to each other, “there’s the hero guy”, and some brave kids even say hi. I’ve enjoyed that feeling of belonging, but it wasn’t until this last month that I realized it was much bigger than that. As I’ve become part of the culture, I’ve also become responsible for it. I don’t mean that I have some all-powerful magic wand, rather that I now have the same responsibility that every member of that community does. When I started the Hero Construction Company, I expected I would be coming in and out of single teacher’s classrooms, but the reality is that I’ve now spoken to every kid between the age of 10 and 16 in some towns. I didn’t plan to have an investment in each community, but I have.
The cool thing about the schools that I’ve aligned myself with is that they all understand that to change any negative aspects of the school, they have to change the culture. Name-calling will not stop because three assemblies talked about it. Fist fights in the bathrooms won’t stop because there’s a no tolerance policy in place.
If we attack the negative, we can’t be successful. Instead, we have to promote the positive.
That’s what all of “my” schools are doing. Their leadership teams are playing the long game. Yes, they’re getting the hero guy in (and I think I’m contributing), but more importantly they’re spending every day looking for ways to increase the feelings of respect, caring, and citizenship in their students – AND THEIR STAFF. The principals, vice principals, counselors, and teachers that I speak with in these schools are taking small steps toward a stronger, more positive culture in their schools. It’s the only way to make change.
If you’re ready for a smile and perhaps some inspiration, check out this video. These teachers know their kids need to see them as human beings who are helping them be successful in the world:
What are you doing in your school to improve the culture?