School Climate – Improving the School Experience for All Students
During a time when the American learning environment looks different than any of us expected, what can educators and staff do to improve the school climate?
The overall school experience has a massive impact on long-term academic success and achievement, so the educational climate is a topic that is worth considering. What are the barriers to improving the school climate for all students? The answer is complex, but we can take a brief look here.
What is the school climate?
Similar to other kinds of environments, a school climate is all of the elements that make up the learning environment. The concept is not a new one and has been a part of education conversation for decades. According to Frontiers in Psychology, it is “the unwritten personality and atmosphere of a school, including its norms, values, and expectations.” The learning environment includes the psychosocial atmosphere that impacts the way that students, teachers and administrators interact with each other.
The impact of school climate on the social and educational development of students is huge. From mental health and self-esteem to overall academic achievement, the learning environment is very important. When the climate is positive, it encourages students and teachers to engage with each other in a respectful and productive way.
On the other hand, a poor climate can foster a hostile space where students do not feel comfortable or safe enough to express themselves or contribute to the learning process.
Elements of a positive climate
There are many different components of a positive or negative learning environment. Many of these things are beyond the control of the school’s administration, but there are some ways to foster a productive and safe learning space.
Here are some of the elements of a positive classroom climate:
Safety is always a concern in schools across the country. From natural disasters to humanitarian threats, there should be procedures in place to ensure the safety of all students and staff. Fire drills are a great example of this because if a fire was to happen, there would be a practiced plan in place. During the COVID-19 pandemic, safety precautions were front and center.
The kinds of relationships formed at schools can hint at the kind of climate that is prominent. Edweek reports that “strong relationships not only help students feel safe and accepted in their school, they also help students build resilience to cope with adverse childhood experiences.” The connection between students and teachers fosters a greater sense of comfortability, which in turn encourages a better learning process.
Each school has to deal and cope with different elements that impact the school’s social climate, depending on things like the population that the school serves, the location, and the funding.
Throughout them all, consistency is key.
In order for the learning environment to provide an improved learning experience for all students, consistent improvement is important. Here are some of the most valuable components of a good school climate, according to Edweek:
- High expectations and support.
- Behavioral and discipline.
- Feedback and adjustments.
- Procedural considerations.
Because each school district and school is so different, there is no one answer. However, you can use these tips as a starting point to work towards a better school experience and climate for the teachers and students.
To learn more about how to foster a positive school climate, reach out to Agile Education today.