10 Books to Read Together as a Staff to Strengthen School Culture

Every single one is school staff tested!

Nothing tears down a workplace culture like negative talk. This is particularly true in a school environment, where bad attitudes can trickle down from unhappy teachers and staff to students and then be carried home to families and into the greater community. So what’s an administrator to do? Here are ten great books recommended by members of our Principal Life Facebook group to help you promote a positive school culture.

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1. Culturize by Jimmy Casas


Career educator and administrator Jimmy Casas encourages school leaders to be very intentional in the culture they create in their school. Full of inspiring insights on leadership, relationships, and culture, this guidebook will motivate teachers and ultimately impact students—and your school as a whole.

2. The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon

The Energy Bus

This book, written by coaching guru and businessman Jon Gordon (but very applicable to school culture), is about mindset and positive energy. It reminds us that each day we all have a choice about what our attitude and outlook will be. In addition, it lays out 10 secrets to leading your staff in a productive and positive direction.

3. Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division by Anthony Muhammad

Transforming School Culture

This book promises to deliver a “school improvement plan for leaders to overcome staff division, improve relationships, and transform toxic school cultures into healthy ones.” It identifies four different types of teachers (believers, fundamentalists, tweeners, and survivors) that administrators encounter and offers tips about how to support and bring out the best in each type.

4. Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle


The Culture Code

A strong and effective culture is the secret to every successful organization. Author Daniel Coyle spells out a three-step recipe for success: build safety, share vulnerability, and establish purpose.

5. The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work by Jon Gordon

The No Complaining Rule

Another inspiring book by author Jon Gordon. This title is a must-have for administrators looking to conquer negativity and inspire others to adopt a positive attitude. Packed with powerful principles, it presents an action plan that is both practical and easy to follow.

6. A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted by Will Bowen

A Complaint Free World

This book would be a great title for a school-wide book study to help address and eliminate negative talk in your school. Author Will Bowen is all about encouraging self-awareness and changing negative mindsets. He offers tips to help break the habit of negativity, thereby changing the culture around us.

7. Leading Together: Teachers and Administrators Improving Student Outcomes by Jonathan Eckert

Leading Together

Exploring the spectrum of collaborative leadership styles, this book promotes a collective approach to leadership in schools. When teachers and administrators lead together, everyone feels greater ownership, which results in a more positive and successful environment.

8. Lead with Culture: What Really Matters in Our Schools by Jay Billy

Lead with Culture

One of the Lead Like a Pirate Guides, this book comes highly recommended by members of our Principal Life group. Creating an environment where students and staff want to be begins with establishing a positive culture. Easy to read and to the point, each chapter in this book begins with a clear focus and ends with an action item.

9. Shifting the Monkey: The Art of Protecting Good People From Liars, Criers, and Other Slackers by Todd Whitaker

Shifting the Monkey

Instead of worrying about the unhappy people in your school and how to change their behavior, what if you focused on recognizing and rewarding the hardworking, responsible employees doing their jobs? This thought-provoking book offers strategies and tips for cultivating and rewarding excellence.

10. The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey

Speed of Trust

Everyone knows that leaders who are trusted by their employees achieve greater results.

In today’s challenging education culture, a lot of negativity comes from the level of distrust between teachers and administrators. In this book, Covey provides research and content that will help you come up with a game plan to build a culture of trust that will end the negativity.

Do you have a favorite book about conquering negative talk to share with other administrators? Come and share in our Principal Life Facebook group. 

Plus, check out Principal Hotline: Dealing with Negative Educators