Tagged “School Climate”

Richard Cardillo

One of the Biggest Bullies

The vast majority of our work at the National School Climate Center (NSCC) revolves around three core efforts:

Yet, when I first speak to people about what we do, the inevitable conclusion or connection made is that "you're the guys that do bully prevention." Indeed, NSCC has robust and comprehensive bully-prevention resources that are student centered, aligned with core curriculum standards, and (amazingly!) free. And we work arduously and continuously to make sure our bully-prevention efforts align with a larger framework to promote safe, supportive, welcoming, civically engaging, challenging, and joyous schools for all students. One metaphor I use to capture the idea that bully prevention is part of a broader school climate effort is to compare bullying to the proverbial "canary in a coal mine." I tend to believe that if there are bullying issues present in a school community, it is a symptom of other deeper issues.

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Emily Buchanan

Defining a Positive School Climate and Measuring the Impact

Last month (April 2013), the National School Climate Center and Fordham University concluded that "sustained positive school climate is associated with positive child and youth development, effective risk-prevention and health-promotion efforts, student learning and academic achievement, increased student graduation rates, and teacher retention."

Having gained increasing potency in the lexicon of education reformers of late, a glut of studies has cemented the concept and significance of the school climate. However, having considered more than 200 research papers that all pointed to the aforementioned conclusion, the Fordham University study uncovered one major issue: What actually constitutes a "positive school climate?"

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Implications of the New “Poor”

Post written by Pam Capasso, Sara Gogel, Tracy Knight, and Janine Norris of Holly Glen Elementary School in Williamstown, N.J.

Holly Glen Elementary School serves approximately 580 students with one-third on free or reduced-price meals. Our school houses English language learners, students with autism, and students from low-income housing. In the past, Holly Glen comprised various socioeconomic levels ranging from upper class to lower income.

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Klea Scharberg

Does Better Recess Equal a Better School Day?

In a new study released Tuesday, Mathematica Policy Research and the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University rigorously evaluated the Playworks program and found that it improved outcomes in the areas of school climate, conflict resolution and aggression, physical activity, and learning and academic performance.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Student Voice: How a Community School Became an Oasis in South Central Los Angeles

Post written by Martin J. Blank and Ryan Fox, Coalition for Community Schools

Kevin Valiencia

Walking through the halls of John C. Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles with senior Kevin Valiencia, one finds an unexpected inner city public school in one of the most maligned neighborhoods in the country.

A climate of cooperation, enthusiasm, unity, and endless possibilities permeate throughout school. A strong juxtaposition with the surrounding community in which neighborhoods blocks apart from each other are often at war. Kevin himself has seen a friend stabbed, drive-by shootings, and police raids near his home.

It's not that the troubles found in other schools don't exist inside Fremont. Less than 40 percent of its students graduate in four years and test scores still lag behind state averages. But the angst and conflict found in many other struggling urban schools is minimal at Fremont. The suspension rate at Fremont is far below the rates at other high schools in the district. While the dropout rate is still very high, those numbers are gradually improving. Nearly 85 percent of those that did graduate in 2009 and 2010 continued on to a postsecondary education.

"There's unity (at Fremont)," Kevin said. "We're all in this together."

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Thom Markham

Only Whole Children Can Make Schools Safe

In the long term, there is just one answer to the problem of school safety: more love. The short term solution, on the other hand, lies in the unhealthy mix of force, fear, guns, security, locks, and other devices meant to barricade our children from a small, but obviously lethal, subset of the population.

I'll leave the short-term answers to parents and politicians. Instead, let's support advances in education that take us closer to the ultimate goal of raising, nurturing, and educating children who feel psychologically safe. That, really, is the sole purpose of whole child education.

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Sean Slade

Improving Schools: School Safety

This month we are focusing on school safety, where the initial thought is to discuss physical safety as a reaction to the Sandy Hook tragedy. Yet, in looking back over the articles written recently, there is less about physical safety and more about positive school climate, supportive environments, open doors, and inviting the community into schools.

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Sean Slade

Safer Schools for Living, Growing, and Learning

Often when people talk about the basics of education, they refer to the three Rs: reading, (w)riting, and (a)rithmetic. However, an even more foundational aspect to educating students is ensuring that schools are safe.

If a school isn't a safe place, then it can't be a school as we know it—a place to learn and grow. If a school isn't a safe place, it becomes reactive to incidents, and teaching and learning become a secondary or forgotten imperative.

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Peter DeWitt

A Blind Spot in School Safety

"School safety" is a fairly large umbrella. It encompasses the whole school perspective of keeping children safe through practicing fire drills, lockdown drills, and keeping the school in lockout all day long. School safety also includes keeping students safe through the use of anti-bullying programs, school codes of conduct, or school board policies. All of these are important to the school climate. Educators understand that children learn better in a positive and inclusive school climate.

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Klea Scharberg

Throughout February: Safe Schools

Safety is and always will be a fundamental concern for schools. Students who aren't or don't feel safe at school cannot learn, and schools must ensure that their environments are both secure and supportive. The current debate on school safety brings with it a renewed interest in addressing safety, school climate, and mental health concerns at schools and promises to improve school policy and practice.

Yet while the current debate has engaged the nation in communitywide discussions, it also has the potential to overlook the voice of educators. Join us throughout February as we look at what educators (teachers, administrators, and counselors) believe is crucial to making our schools safe—not just physically safe, but also safe places to teach and learn. What can educators do to implement and reinforce the conditions for learning where students are physically and emotionally safe; learn to manage their emotions and relationships positively; and are connected to the school, community, and caring adults?

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