Creating and sustaining a positive school climate
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Creating and Sustaining a Positive School Climate. by Tom, Karen, Carol, Greg and Tony 3.18.10. What is School Climate?. School environments vary greatly. Whereas some schools feel friendly, inviting, and supportive, others feel exclusionary, unwelcoming, and even unsafe

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Creating and Sustaining a Positive School Climate

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Creating and Sustaining a Positive School Climate

by Tom, Karen, Carol, Greg and Tony


What is School Climate?

  • School environments vary greatly. Whereas some schools feel friendly, inviting, and supportive, others feel exclusionary, unwelcoming, and even unsafe

  • The feelings and attitudes that are elicited by a school’s environment are referred to as school climate.

What is School Climate?

  • Research suggests that school climate directly affects the academic, emotional, and mental states of its students.

  • The situation places an extremely large amount of power and responsibility over the lives of thousands of children in the hands of a few administrators.

Aspects of the academic environment

  • extra curricular opportunities (outside the classroom)

    • increase sociability, improve ties b/t students

    • social bonding leads to self-control

  • parent involvement

    • more involved the parent, more involved the student

  • educators

    • position to influence the future

    • faculty communication is key

  • physical aspect of the facility

    • class size, smaller = higher achievement

    • smaller schools, under 100 students per grade

  • aesthetics

    • attractive in color, pleasant furniture, student work

How do you assess your school's climate?

  • climate is formed by individual attitudes, behaviors, and group norms

  • climate of a school is not necessarily experienced in the same way by all of its members- variability in individual perceptions of a school’s climate

  • individual characteristics may impact these perceptions

How do you assess your school's climate?

  • Instruments for examining perceptions of school climate: the Elementary and Middle School Climate Survey, the Quality of School Life Scale, and the Elementary School Environment Scale

  • Findings provide a glimpse into how students feel about the school’s climate and allow school personnel to take the initial steps to improving their quality.

How Do You Change Your School Climate?

  • Know Your School Climate

  • Leaders Model Positive Attitude and Set Expectations

  • Build Positive School Climate at the Teacher Level

  • Build Positive School Climate at the Student Level

  • Involve Parents and Community in Building a Positive School Climate 

Developing a Positive School Climate at the Staff Level

Adult happiness and productivity =

Student happiness and productivity

So the question is:  How do principals/leaders keep adults happy and productive?

Developing a Positive School Climate at the Staff Level

1.  Support New Teachers

2.  Clue Into Climate

3.  Empower Teachers

4.  Recognition and Reward

5.  Don't Ignore Adminstrator Morale

6.  Deal With Student Discipline

7.  Treat Teachers as Professionals

8.  Ask Teachers What Is Going On

9.  Keep Facilities Tidy

10.  Develop An Emotional IQ

Developing a Positive School Climate at the Staff Level

Practical Ideas To Use With Your Faculty:


Be Present

Make Their Day

Choose Your Attitude


Research has shown that schools implementing supportive and positive school climate strategies are more successful in creating environments conducive to learning.

Developing a Positive School Climate at the Student Level

  • The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn.  -- John Lubbock

A.   Increasing

      a student's


      will result

     in increased


B. Increasing

    a student's


    will result in



Self esteem Pop Quiz

TThe research showed increased self-esteem does not result in increased achievement.

For example, the Washington Post in 2006 noted: “6% of Korean eighth-graders surveyed expressed confidence in their math skills compared with 39% of US eighth-graders. But a respected international math assessment showed Koreans scoring far ahead of their peers in the United Stated, raising questions about the importance of self esteem.”

To create a positive climate for learning, students must experience…

  • Mutual respect in the classroom

  • A strong academic curriculum

  • A strong behavioral curriculum

  •  Academic and Behavioral Mentoring

  •  Opportunities for Collaboration

  •  Student Leadership in the Classroom

  •  A Pleasant Physical Environment

  •  A Strong Sense of Connectedness

Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.

            William Butlers Yeats

  •  Ensure that ALL students feel valued and supported by:

    • Establishing clearly defined schoolwide behavior expectations rather than rules. ("We are the HAWKS")

    • Actively upholding the right of every student to a safe learning environment. (anti-bullying policies)

    • Establishing a proactive rather than a reactive approach to discipline.

    • Holding class meetings where everyone can speak openly about concerns and celebrations.

Ensure that ALL students feel valued and supported by:

  • Having high expectations both academically and socially (no excuses allowed!)

  • Acknowledging positive actions. (Talon Tickets)

  • Recognizing and building on the strengths and accomplishments of your school community. (have celebrations!)

  • Implementing a restorative justice approach to handling discipline problems that do occur.  This approach seeks to heal the whole child by making things right for the victim, the offending child, and the school community. (restoring and building relationships)

Ensure that ALL students feel valued and supported by:

  • Creating opportunities for students to share their talents (talent shows, show cases, peer tutoring)

  • Knowing every child by name (hallway greetings, building buddies, save-one-student)

  • Implementing character education (guidance lessons, student recognition)

  • Providing an atmosphere of respectful and positive interactions.

  • Providing opportunities for service projects 

Developing a Positive School Climate at the Parent/Community Level

A positive school climate welcomes and encourages parental and community involvement. It is the remaining part of the cycle.

How Do We Involve Parents? 

No cow ever gave milk because a farmer sent her a letter

Bland mass mailings and lifeless meeting announcements aren't likely to motivate busy parents and community members.

A principal that is serious about this involvement reaches out to stakeholders in personally meaningful ways

Guidelines for Involving Parents 

  • Develop a plan to promote parent and community involvement

  • Foster a climate of hospitality and openness

  • Focus on the needs of the parents/community

  • Build a personal knowledge base about stakeholders

  • Target specific persons to tasks

  • Take advantage of casual encounters with parents/community members

Guidelines for Involving Parents 

  • Train teachers to use parents and community members effectively

  • Respect cultural sensitivities

  • Avoid using every parental encounter to discuss their child's progress

  • Show your commitment to parent involvement by demonstrating you care

  • Celebrate the accomplishments of parents and community

Results of Parental Involvement

  • Parents and community members will feel welcome in the schools

  • Community attitudes about school are positive

  • Build collaborative relationships between stakeholders

  • Everyone shares responsibility for the mission

  • Opportunity for reflection and evaluation

  • This effort will lead to a positive school climate that is sustainable

The Impact of Parental Involvement

Building a school community begins with the assumption that parents are part of the enterprise. Therefore, parents who are most actively involved with their children, with each other, and with the school become the problem-solvers and the tacticians in increasing the level of involvement of the other parents.

Sam Redding

Perceptions are interconnected with school's attempt to involve parents.

"Parents' attitudes about the quality of their child's school are highly correlated with the school's practices to involve parents. Parents who became involved at home and at school say that the school has a postive climate. But even more so, parents who believe that the school is actively working to involve them say the school is a good one"

Darber and Epstein


 "School climate can be a positive influence on the health of the learning environment or a significant barrier to learning" (Freiberg, 1998)

A postive school climate can start with one person...



Christensen, J., Lundin, S. C., & Paul, H. (2000). Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results (1 ed.). New York: Hyperion.

The School Climate Challenge: Narrowing the Gap Between School Climate Research and School Climate Policy, Practice Guidelines and Teacher Education Policy, a paper presented by the Center for Social and Emotional Education (CSEE). Retrieved March 14, 2010, from

Cohen, J. (2006). Social, emotional, ethical, and academic education: Creating a climate for learning, participation in democracy, and well-being. Harvard Educational Review, 76(2), 201–237.

Hilt,L (2010)  Fish Activities, 1-6.

Vail, K. (2005). Create Great School Climate. Education Digest, 71(4), 4-11.

Vail, K. (2005). Climate Control. American School Board Journal, 192(6), 16-19.

           Epstein, J.L. (1995, May). School-family-community partnerships: Caring for the children we share. Phi Delta Kappan 76 (9), 701-712.    

           Redding, S. (1991). Creating a school community through parental involvement. Education Digest, 56(3), 6-9.

           Waler, J. A. (1998). Promoting parent/community involvement in schools. Education Digest, 63(8), 45-47.

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