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An Effective School Climate Improvement Process: Guidelines and Tools That Support Safe, Supportive and Civil Schools. Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D. National School Climate Center: Educating Minds and Hearts Because the Three Rs ’ Are Not Enough; Teachers College, Columbia University

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An Effective School Climate Improvement Process:

Guidelines and Tools That Support Safe, Supportive and Civil Schools

Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D.

National School Climate Center: Educating Minds and Hearts Because the Three Rs’ Are Not Enough;

Teachers College, Columbia University

Louisiana’s Safe and Supportive Schools Initiative – 3:45 to 4:45/Ballroom D

Second Annual Louisiana School Climate Institute,

Sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Education, June 5, 2013. Shreveport, LA

Hilton Hotel and Shreveport Convention Center


Goals

• To consider what is an effective school climate improvement process?

• Violence prevention/bully prevention and/or school climate reform?

• To consider three overlapping processes that support effective school reform and violence prevention efforts:

1. Systemic interventions

2. Instructional efforts; and,

3. One-on-one efforts


School climate definitions
School climate: Definitions

•“Climate” and/or “culture” and/or “supportive learning environments” and/or “conditions for learning”

• School climate: the quality and character of school life. School climate is based on patterns of students', parents' and school personnels’ experience of school life and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures. - See more at: www.schoolclimate.org/climate/#sthash.lgniJxI7.dpuf

(National School Climate Council, 2007)


School climate definitions cont
School climate: Definitions (cont.)

The school climate improvement process:Intentional, strategic, collaborative, transparent and coordinated

1) Collaborative, democratically informed and involving all stakeholders;

2) Psychometrically sound data is used to drive action planning, interventions and program implementation

3) Improvement goals are tailored to the unique needs of students' and the broader school community

4) Capacity building promotes adult learning and PLCs

5) Curriculum, instruction, student supports and interventions are scientifically sound and support prosocial. ecologically informed and strength-based and risk prevention efforts.

6) The improvement process strengthens (a) policies and procedures related to the learning environment, and (b) operational infrastructure to facilitate data collection, effective planning, implementation, evaluation, and sustainability. (National School Climate Council, 2012)


A five stage school climate improvement road map
A Five-Stage School Climate Improvement Road Map


Tasks and challenges
Tasks and Challenges

Stage One: Planning & preparation

• Creating a representative leadership team

• Fostering “buy in” or a shared understandings, vision, vocabulary and engagement!

• Leadership Commitment & Dedicated Planning Team

• Moving from blame/distrust to a more “no fault”/trusting culture

• Celebrating success and building on past efforts

• Reflecting on and learning from Stage one work

Stage Two: Evaluation

• Systematic, scientifically sound social, emotional & civic as well as academic assessment

• Developing plans to share findings with the whole community

Stage Three: Understanding findings and action planning

• Understanding and Digging Deeper

• Prioritizing goals

• Researching instructional and/or school wide improvement programmatic efforts

• Action Planning: Benchmarks & Timelines

Stage Four: Implementing the action plan: Instructional & school-wide efforts

• Coordinating instructional and/or school-wide improvement efforts with fidelity

•Promoting adult social, emotional and civic learning

Stage Five: Beginning the cycle anew


Violence bully prevention school climate reform
Violence /bully prevention & school climate reform

• Mean, cruel and/or bullying behaviors: a “canary in the coal mine” signaling that schools are not addressing the critical social, emotional and civic dimensions of school life.

• What works and what does not work?

(1) Promoting the healthy development of students and school communities rather than a behavioral focus on preventing problems.

(2) Comprehensive school climate reform rather than targeted approaches

(3) Bullying is fundamentally a social process not simply an individual problem

(4) Promoting prosocial norms and expectations for all -- a culture of Upstanders -­ provides an essential foundation for effective risk prevention as well as health promotion efforts.

(5) Comprehensive school climate strategies that support safe, responsible and civic schools:


School wide interventions
School-wide interventions

• Leadership

• Measurement systems: Readiness; comprehensive; process; and, targeted.

• Engaging the “whole village”- Students, parents/guardians, school personnel and community members as co-learners and co-leaders

• Policies, rules and supports

• Codes of conduct that shape norms: Students and adults

• Fostering student engagement and leadership

• School-home-community partnerships


Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning

• Being a living example

• Classroom management

• Pedagogic strategies (e.g. cooperative learning; conflict resolution; moral dilemma discussions; service learning and other youth engagement/co-leadership related efforts)

• Curriculum: “in a box” and infusing prosocial/risk prevention/health promotion learning objectives, assessments and activities into existing curriculum, advisory activities, athletics, morning meetings and more


One on one relational practices
One-on-one/relational practices

• Moment-to-moment/one-on-one interactions

• Educators, parents and mental health professionals learning and working together to recognize and support students who chronically “fall into” the role of bully and/or victim

• Social norms and group life

• Suicide prevention: Guidelines



Relevant Readings:Cohen, J., Espelage, D., Twemlow, S.W, Berkowitz, M.W. & Comer, J.P. (submitted for publication review). Rethinking effective bully and violence prevention effects: Promoting healthy school climates, positive youth development, and preventing bully-victim-bystander behaviorCohen, J. (2006). Social, emotional, ethical and academic education: Creating a climate for learning, participation in democracy and well-being. Harvard Educational Review, Vol. 76, No. 2, Summer, pg. 201-237. (www.hepg.org/her/abstract/8)Dary, T. & Pickeral, T. (Eds.) (2013). School climate practices for implementation and sustainability. A School Climate Practice Brief, No. 1. www.schoolclimate.org/publications/practice-briefs.phpNational School Climate Council (2007). The School Climate Challenge: Narrowing the Gap Between School Climate Research and School Climate Policy, Practice Guidelines and Teacher Education Policy. Available online at: www.schoolclimate.org/climate/schoolclimatebriefs.php National School Climate Council (2012). The School Climate Improvement Process: Essential Elements. School Climate Brief, No. 4. Available online at: http://www.schoolclimate.org/climate/schoolclimatebriefs.php Piscatelli, J. & Lee, C. (2011). State Policies on School Climate and Bully Prevention. A NSCC Working Paper. (http://www.schoolclimate.org/climate/papers-briefs.php)


Thank you
Thank you!.

Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D.

• President, National School Climate Center: Educating Minds and Hearts Because the Three Rs are Not Enough (www.schoolclimate.org;[email protected]).

• Co-chair, National School Climate Council

• Adjunct Professor in Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University.


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