The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

Compliance or Creativity?

As leaders in K-12 education, the success and failure of our schools rests upon the environment we build and maintain through our words and actions.

In a culture of compliance, we lead through mandates, telling those we work with what to do and when to do it. We refer to people and classrooms as “mine,” and make sure there is no confusion about the authoritarian, chain of command.

In a culture of creativity, we do have some mandated timelines, but, leaders trust professionals to exercise their professional judgement. They refer to roles and places as “ours,” and are always willing to listen to new ideas. There is still leadership, but it is collaborative in nature.

One culture creates innovation and is a place where elite professionals want to work. The other stifles ideas and is often toxic.

The way we lead determines our culture – creative or compliant.


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2 thoughts on “Compliance or Creativity?

  1. Hi, Mr. Bernia! My name is Julie Cornelson, and I am studying Elementary Education at the University of South Alabama. I love your ideas on a creative learning environment for your teachers and students. From reading your previous blog posts and browsing your twitter page, I can tell that you are a very engaged principal. Middle school can be tough for everyone, but the students at your school seem to truly enjoy going to school. That is certainly rare. A big part of creating the environment that you write about is trust. A truly collaborative environment must have a large degree of trust to survive. The educators at your school are fortunate to have such an understanding and involved administration.

  2. Such an interesting and engaging topic. I think every teacher/staff member should ponder on these two cultures to determine what would be best for their school. Of course, I believe in creativity and collaboration to produce the best results.
    I’ve explored your blog and commented on one of your most recent posts, but neglected to introduce myself. I’m a student at the University of South Alabama studying Physical Education.
    If you ever have time, I know you’re extremely busy, take a look at my class blog to see what my class has learned this year, Here.

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