As promised, I said I’d return to the CCSSO series School Leadership in Action and comment on the list of practices of effective school leaders that improve teaching and learning.  In the segment on Creating a Climate Hospitable To Education, they identified several practices, which are highlighted in blue italics followed by my comments and references to relevant research and Indistar indicators. 

Have the faculty and staff assess all norms and procedures throughout the building.  Work to align these norms and procedures where there is inconsistency.

Focus on student behavior and classroom management.

A couple of thoughts about these recommendations.  First, it makes sense to continually analyze your norms and procedures and align them where there are inconsistencies.  From a student’s perspective, it is confusing if the norms and procedures vary from class to class, in the hallways, and in the cafeteria.  Students respond positively to consistency, particularly when it makes sense to them and is consistently reinforced and enforced.

 That’s where recommendations from Robert Marzano in What Works In Schools: Translating Research Into Action are relevant.  The research he cites indicates that the school-level factor of providing a safe and orderly environment correlates with increased student achievement. Among his recommendations are the following that respond to the points I made:

  • “Establish clear schoolwide rules and procedures for general behavior.” (p. 55)  His point here is that teachers establish rules and procedures for classroom behavior, and that schools should establish them for consistency.  I’d suggest that the schoolwide rules can govern what is expected in classrooms as well. The faculty, parents, and students can work together to agree on these basic rules and procedures. This process can create agreement and support for the implementation of these rules and procedures. This helps students know what is expected everywhere in the building.
  • “Establish a program that teaches self-discipline and responsibility to students.” (p. 57) Marzano cites Jim Larson (1998), who recommends establishing schoolwide discipline policies that are developed in collaboration with students, teachers, support staff, and parents. Larson suggests that including students in the development teaches them self-discipline and responsibility.

In addition, Hattie (2009) concluded that, “Rules and procedures (d=0.76) involved stated expectations regarding behavior and well articulated rules and procedures that were negotiated with students.” The effect size of .76 indicates that this practices has a high correlation with improved student achievement.

Note: The following indicators specifically address these findings and recommendations. Check out the Wise Ways for each one by clicking on the indicator.

So my take away is it is well worth the school’s time and effort to engage in the collaborative process of reviewing rules and procedures and aligning these across classrooms and the entire school. What do you think?

Celebrate success. 

Implement an incentive program whereby students earn dollars for positive behavior and can exchange them for small rewards.

Indistar indicators addressing this recommendation include:

Both indicators address the issue of recognizing and celebrating success, both for students and teachers. In both cases the nature of the recognition is closely related to academic achievement.  This could include actual achievement or recognizing effort toward achievement. You can open the Wise Ways for each indicator by clicking on that indicator.

The Wise Ways for Indicator IE11 suggests that there are ways, other than monetary rewards, to recognize and celebrate success.   Among these are:

  • “provide recognition to teachers by distributing leadership,
  • showing personal interest,
  • providing public acknowledgment before colleagues and parents, and
  • giving private praise and encouragement.”

The last bullet really resonates with me.  To this day, 43 years after the event, I still remember receiving a personal note from my principal in which he said he was glad I was a teacher in his school.  Don’t underestimate the significance of a short personal note.

Yet, there are some limits and types of incentives that undermine student improvement (and probably adult improvement, as well, although the research I’ve read doesn't address this issue). At this point, I want to refer back to a blog I wrote in April about providing feedback.

  • “ …Programmed instruction, praise, punishment, and extrinsic rewards were the least effective forms of feedback for enhancing achievement.” (p. 174)

I know. These are some sacred cows.  Stickers and gold stars are probably a multi-million dollar industry because we use them in our schools to reward students for everything from good behavior to achievement on assignments and tests.  Hattie cites a study (Deci, Koestner, and Ryan, 1999) that found a negative correlation between extrinsic rewards and task performance. He suggests that the extrinsic rewards actually undermined intrinsic motivation. I recommend Carol Dweck’s Mindset for a more thorough exploration of the issue of praise and motivation. 

So as I said in my blog about this issue of Creating a Climate Hospitable To Education, I was going to take exception to some of the practices. This then is the first one.  I have posted additional sources for research (and opinions) about extrinsic reward systems. As always, you’ll need to do your own research and draw your own conclusions.

Next week I will address the last four suggested practices.  They are:

  • Adopt a policy in which students wear school uniforms.
  • Educate the whole child and provide supports where necessary.
  • Engage and listen to parents.
  • Have teachers visit each other’s classrooms to observe good practices and provide time to debrief in a trusting, risk-free environment.

In the meantime, please respond by logging in and posting your comment at the end of this blog or in the Discussion section. These are my interpretations. What are Yours? Let's talk!

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Paul Axtell

With more than thirty years of experience helping organizations and individuals be more effective, Paul Axtell has honed his insights in executive offices and training programs for everyone from office staff and line workers to managers and team leaders.

A large focus of his work is how to run effective and productive meetings—to turn them from something people dread into useful, productive sessions with trackable results.

Paul is the author of multiple books, including Meetings Matter: 8 Powerful Strategies for Remarkable Conversations, Being Remarkable, and Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids. He can be reached at <a href=""></a> and via email at
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