School Climate

An inclusive school climate draws upon these practices and more to create a school environment in which every child belongs and is able to learn.

Walk into any school or classroom and you will know if they were successful in creating this environment! You immediately feel welcomed, accepted, important to the group – or uncomfortable and tenative, almost as though you are intruding on someone else’s space or activity. In thousands of conversations with students, parents, and educators, we hear that the defining characteristic of inclusive schools must go far beyond the banners that proclaim each school’s mission statement to the quality and intent of daily human-to-human interactions.

Here are just a few questions to ask as we promote a more inclusive climate.

  • Do all students feel a strong sense of belonging?
  • Do all parents believe that the school values their perspectives and contributions?
  • Do parents and educators leave meetings together with a renewed sense of shared purpose on behalf of the student?
  • Do school purposively nurture positive student relationships and shared activities?
  • Are all faculty members appreciative of diversity in student readiness and learning, language, race, culture, experiences, and more?
  • Do student considerations take priority over adult considerations when concerns arise?
  • Is shared ownership for all students clearly expressed as a non-negotiable by the superintendent and each school’s principal?
parent teacher meeting

Finding an Effective Inclusive School: Questions Every Parent Should Ask

There are several resources that will help you as you search for schools that have a strong commitment to effective inclusion. Every state has a Department of Education that reports on that state’s target for Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). This LRE data is also available for individual districts and schools within the state. The higher… Read More


Peers Supporting an Inclusive School Climate

Author: Toni Riester-Wood, Ph.D. Inclusive schools promote respectful and supportive relationships, avoid the bullying epidemic, and build the attributes of positive peer-to-peer interactions. Due to the current state of our national economy and shrinking education budgets, schools and businesses alike are striving for both efficient and effective ways to maximize resources. One very powerful resource that is… Read More


Ways to Improve School Climate

When we look for ways to improve student achievement we often cite school climate as a major factor, but just what is "school climate"? How do we create a positive climate that will indeed affect student achievement and develop student and teacher efficacy?  The National School Climate Center defines school climate as the "quality and character of… Read More

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Inclusion on the Playground

Inclusive schools should be places where children not only achieve...but enjoy. The playground or inside play areas are oftentimes the center of a young child's social world. It is the place where friendships start, social networks form, and the rigors of the classroom seem far away. Children with disabilities and those from culturally and linguistically… Read More

Group Of Children Playing In Park

Shaking the House “Khooneh Takouni”

Khooneh takouni, which translates to "shaking the house" is a Persian ritual of spring cleaning that precedes the Persian New Year each spring. The ritual of spring cleaning, in many cultures, provides a fresh start as we enter the season of new beginnings. As trees bloom and flowers blossom many people enjoy a renewed sense… Read More

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Celebrate Ourselves

Most human beings enjoy sharing information and stories about themselves. Students are no different. Revealing special things about themselves can help students develop confidence and trust among their peers. This sharing of information can also assist teachers in finding out more about their students and plan lessons that tap into the needs and preferences of… Read More


Self-Assessment and Action Planning

What will you guarantee every single student who steps foot inside your building? Equitable access to the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) or general education curriculum? Equitable access to high quality instruction provided by teachers skilled in core content knowledge AND instructional methods designed to engage and bring learning within the reach of every student… Read More

tchr with cute elem student

Shared Ownership

How does the principal forge a united faculty that envisions itself as a team of educators working on behalf of all students? Begin by reminding every faculty member of these three points: Every student is a general education student and a full member of the school community. Some students just need additional supports! Having a… Read More


Supporting a School-Wide System of Positive Behavioral Supports

How does the principal establish an effective school-wide positive behavioral support system? An effective school-wide positive behavioral support system consists of three parts: Shifting from a reactive stance to a responsive stance; Emphasizing proactive strategies, such as defining, teaching and supporting appropriate behaviors Establishing a continuum of positive behavior support for all students provided by… Read More

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Including Students with Disabilities: A Missing Link

Author: Tim LaCourt, M.Ed. In my career as a special education teacher, curriculum supervisor, and then principal, Inclusion was a priority focus; however, there always seemed to be a missing link in the process of including students with disabilities—especially more severe conditions—into the general population of students. I had an early spring meeting with a… Read More