Improving the School Experience for All Students
When the American learning environment looks different than any of us expected, what can educators and staff do to improve the school climate?
What is the school climate?
Like other kinds of environments, a school climate is all the elements that make up the learning environment. The concept is not new and has been a part of the 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.” In addition, the learning environment includes a psychosocial atmosphere that impacts how students, teachers, and administrators interact.
The impact of school climate on students’ social and educational development is enormous. The learning environment is crucial from mental health and self-esteem to overall academic achievement. When the climate is positive, it encourages students and teachers to engage with each other respectfully and productively.
On the other hand, a poor climate can foster a negative space where students do not feel comfortable or safe enough to express themselves or contribute to the learning process.
Elements of a favorable climate
There are many different components of a positive or hostile learning environment. Unfortunately, many of these things are beyond the control of the school’s administration. Still, some ways to foster a productive and safe learning space exist.
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 were to happen, a practiced plan would be in place. Likewise, during the COVID-19 pandemic, safety precautions were front and center.
The kinds of relationships formed at schools can hint at the type of climate that is prominent. For example, Edweek reports that “strong relationships help students feel safe and accepted in their school; they also help students build resilience to cope with adverse childhood experiences.” In addition, the connection between students and teachers fosters a greater sense of comfortability, encouraging a better learning process.
- Each school has to deal with and cope with different elements that impact the school’s social climate, depending on the population that the school serves, the location, and the funding. Throughout them all, consistency is vital. Consistent improvement is important for the learning environment to provide an improved learning experience for all students. 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 fostering a positive school climate,