Assessing and improving school climate is a priority for me.
School is not just a place where students come to learn concepts in isolated classrooms. Schools are the place where students learn to work with and accept others, figure out what they are passionate about, and develop positive relationships with peers and adults. A positive school climate has a strong impact on how safe students feel at school, students’ social and emotional well-being, and their academic success. We need to make sure that all students feel safe, connected and positive about their school. An important piece of this is ensuring that every student and staff member in the district plays a role in the development and maintenance of a positive school climate.
My work in schools and research has reinforced my belief that positive school climate is critical for learning.
Characteristics of a positive school climate include:
- Supportive, caring teachers and staff
- Low levels of bullying
- Strong student connectedness
- High levels of parental involvement
- Fair and consistent disciplinary practices
- Sufficient access to school social workers, counselors, psychologists
A positive school climate can:
- students’ feelings of safety and belonging
- academic outcomes for all students
- social emotional outcomes
- graduation rates
- rates of bullying and harassment
- rates of absenteeism
- rates of suspension or expulsion
- substance abuse
Resources: National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/creating-safe-and-respectful-environment-our-nations-classrooms); Learning Policy Institute (https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/essa-equity-promise-climate-brief)