Improving School Climate
Three key aspects of school climate are sense of community, warmth and civility, and feelings of safety and security. It is not difficult to address them in teaching and learning settings.
Sense of Community
Ms. Akadeio, an elementary school principal, is careful when speaking with parents, students, and staff, to use the pronoun “we” instead of “I.” Although the school draws students from different communities, she stresses how they collectively represent one community at the school. Her attitude fosters intrinsic motivation among children and adults to work together on school projects.
Ms. Precota learned in her teacher education program ways to design activities so that all children can learn. When she met her third-grade class she noticed that children tended to stay in the same groups and ignore others. Ms. Precota used activities in which children from different cliques were grouped. After a few weeks she noticed that some of her children now were asking to be grouped with other children who were not originally part of their clique.
Warmth and Civility
When Dr. Lawson became principal at the L. Douglas Fairbrook High School he noticed that the teachers in one department seemed to feel superior to other teachers and had little interaction with them. When they did interact with others these teachers seemed arrogant. After a few weeks he met with this group of teachers, relayed what he had observed, and told them that their behaviors were antithetical to his goal of improving warmth and civility in the school. He further explained that he expected them to work with other teachers across disciplines to lead the effort to foster more interdisciplinary teaching. One teacher asked for a transfer and there were some rough moments, but by midyear these teachers had taken it upon themselves to develop an interdisciplinary focus by meeting with other teachers and developing ways to integrate topics across disciplines.
Ms. McConnagha observed Brendan, a student in her fourth-grade class, tell another student Megan, “You’re stupid and you’ll always be stupid.” Ms. McConnagha took Brendan aside and told him that language like that had no place in the school, that he never was to talk that way again, and that he was to apologize to Megan. Brendan then apologized to Megan, and since then Ms. McConnagha has noticed that the two of them work very well together.
© ______ 2008, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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