Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Positive School Climate

"Effective school climates reflect routines and practices that strengthen students’ goals for learning and provide multiple opportunities for students to make decisions about their schooling"

A key component of school climate concerns the relationships that exist among students and adults, as well as the relationships among schools, families, and their communities.

Between teachers and students

The relationships between teachers and students are the most important to achievement. They should be warm and caring and meet students’ personal and developmental needs. Teachers’ actions must show their high expectations for their students and their confidence that their students will be successful. Classroom climates can be irrevocably harmed if teachers behave in derogatory or punitive ways.

Among students

 Three aspects of peer relationships are present in schools with positive climates:
  1.  Each student has at least three friends who provide safe harbors in difficult times
  2. Students are able to resolve everyday conflicts in productive and prosocial ways that do not interrupt friendships or disrupt classmates’ interactions
  3. Students feel safe and protected from peer aggression, intimidation, and bullying.

These characteristics may be difficult to observe directly because high quality peer interactions can include jostling and rough talk. Adults may be unfamiliar with the tenor, conventions, and boundaries that mark students’ interactions with one another, and they may not be able to distinguish between student conflict and student friendships. But most students are adept judges of the social culture, and collectively, they can reliably assess the school’s peer climate.

Among adults at school

In most respects, teachers need the same things from their colleagues that students require from their classmates: a few good friends at work, trust that minor conflicts over resources or practices will be resolved productively and respectfully, and safety from social aggression and victimization. Strong collegial relationships multiply the supports teachers have to strengthen their instructional strategies: colleagues bounce ideas off of one another, share their successes, step in to help solve challenging problems, and foster conditions for successful teaching.

Among schools and families

In schools with strong school climates, teachers’ relationships with their students’ families are usually familiar and comfortable. Families and schools hold common expectations and values for students’ learning and development, which prevents misunderstanding between school and family life. Students should not be required to negotiate disagreements between their parents and teachers. When families visit the school on a daily basis, the community’s culture becomes familiar and welcoming.

Source: Dr. Kanika D. White, 2010, Principal Leadership, [Online] Available from: http://www.nasponline.org/resources/principals/School_ClimatePLDec10_ftsp.pdf Retrieved on 27th November 2012 

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