Use a Whole Child Approach to Create Safe and Supportive School Climates
Post submitted by Katie Test, a communications specialist at ASCD. She has been an education reform advocate through public relations and communications for a variety of education organizations and school systems, including D.C. Public Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Public Schools and Durham (N.C.) Public Schools. Connect with Test on Twitter @ASCD or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and we at ASCD believe a whole child approach to education is the way to create safe and supportive school climates in which each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Bullying often is the unacceptable result of an unhealthy school climate. A whole child approach builds a positive school climate, which in turn reduces bullying and improves student attendance, engagement, empowerment, ownership, teaching, and learning.
In a school that supports the whole child, teachers emphasize and model mutual respect for everyone in their classrooms. They apply clear routines, rules, and behavior expectations, and reinforce prosocial behavior. If bullying or other misbehavior happens, teachers assess the misbehavior to determine the cause and the purpose and then intervene based on that assessment. These reforms, as outlined by the Healthy School Report Card, 2nd Edition, enable school leaders to create a supportive school climate where bullying is not part of the school's culture.
Use ASCD's whole child indicators as guides for what a good school climate looks like. These indicators may serve as a needs assessment, a set of strategic goals and outcomes, a framework for decision making, or the definition of what a whole child approach to education truly requires.
Learn more with
- The Whole Child Blog, where we covered the issue of bullying in schools. The roundup post shares a wealth of resources.
- A Whole Child Podcast episode that discusses how to address bullying featuring Kevin Jennings, former assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education; Penny Bisignano, Olweus coordinator for the Iowa Department of Education; and Rachel Cole Lawson, former high school counselor at Malcolm Price Laboratory School (the winner of the first-ever Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award) in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
- The e-book Keeping the Whole Child Healthy and Safe: Reflections on Best Practices in Learning, Teaching, and Leadership, which shares perspectives on a whole child approach to learning, teaching, and community engagement. The e-book answers the question, "What if decisions about education policy were made by first asking, 'What works best for children?'"
- The Healthy School Communities monograph Aligning Health and Education in the School Setting, which outlines steps schools can take to promote and develop safety and well-being as part of the school improvement process.
- Educational Leadership, ASCD's flagship magazine that recently published an issue with the theme "Promoting Respectful Schools." Find out what research says about bullying as a way to gain status in Bryan Goodwin's article, "Bullying Is Common—And Subtle." In "Creating a Climate of Respect," Jonathan Cohen, Richard Cardillo, and Terry Pickeral from whole child partner the National School Climate Center discuss school climate reform and how to develop students as "upstanders."
Are your school and community talking about bullying and its effect on students? Do you feel your school and community know how to appropriately address bullying and create a healthy, safe, and supportive environment?