Building School Culture Through Doing Less

Thanks to TEEN TRUTH’s assembly programs, I’ve had the opportunity to personally visit 1,200+ schools. I’ve made a lot of friends, and had a lot of fun along the way.

One thing I’ve noticed is that some schools just feel special. From the moment you walk in, you can tell. Some schools just have a kind of magic about them. People are excited, responsible, invested, and fun. In a word, there are certain schools that radiate joy.

Obviously, we’d love for all of our schools to possess this elusive and powerful quality, so naturally I’ve wondered to myself, “What can we do to develop that kind of joy in schools?”

I’ve recently realized that this question is not the right question to ask.

Joy is a spontaneous condition. It doesn’t need to be taught, or developed, or cultivated. It doesn’t need to be brought in by buzzwords or systems. Joy exists in all of us. Times are tough, there’s no denying it, but think about a time when you felt joy. Was it something you created intentionally? The result of a program you had carefully crafted? No! Joy simply arises, spontaneously. In order for us to have fun and experience joy in schools, we need to give ourselves the space to allow for spontaneity.

So instead, when I’m in a school that doesn’t have that special spark, I’ve started asking, “What is preventing joy?”

This brings us to the point of this blog: sometimes the answer is to stop doing something we’re currently doing.

Usually these blog posts involve things for you to do. But this time I’m asking for something different, and in some ways tougher. What should you not do? And yes, I mean you specifically. We only really have control over our own actions, and if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably worked at developing a very high awareness of your own actions and behaviors, and how they steer your school’s culture. With that in mind, is there something that you do that isn’t really working out? A needless stress? Maybe there’s an obligation that isn’t really serving anyone. Maybe it’s a type of conversation that gets repeated day after day. Maybe it’s just a bad habit.

When you realize you’re stuck in a cycle that isn’t serving you, you can only take action after you’ve taken notice of it. So I’d like to challenge you to ask yourself over the next few hours:

What should you not do from now on?

JC Pohl, LMFT
President & CEO, TEEN TRUTH

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