In the late 1970’s, Roland R. Edmonds, Lawrence Lezotte, and others founded the Effective Schools Movement that proposed five correlates, or characteristics, of successful schools. Schools that demonstrated a commitment to these correlates were identified as being successful for all students, including those in some of the most challenging of settings. The Effective Schools Movement and its groundbreaking insights continue to influence education today. Here is a current list of the effective school correlates:
- Instructional Leadership
- Clear and Focused Mission
- Safe and Orderly Environment
- Climate of High Expectations
- Frequent Monitoring of Student Progress
- Positive Home-School Relations
- Opportunity to Learn and Student Time on Task
In one of his most quoted statements, Dr. Edmonds raised a compelling challenge to educators and communities:
"It seems to me, that what is left of this discussion are three declarative statements: (a) We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us; (b) We already know more than we need to do that; and (c) Whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven't so far." Educational Leadership (October 1979).
This thoughtful assessment seems particularly relevant to those of us committed to the creation of inclusive school communities. 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?
Resources and Strategies
Web 2.0 Applications
Survey Monkey is a free, easy tool to use school wide to gather and organize data. http://www.surveymonkey.com/
Rubrics are a necessity when it comes to assessment. Rubistar is a user-friendly site that has a plethora of rubrics to choose from or you can make your own! http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php?screen=NewRubric
Blogging is an effective way to communicate with parents and share highlights of what is happening in the classroom. Blogger is an easy, free tool to use to start your very own blog! http://www.blogger.com/home
Deal, T. & Peterson, K., (2009). Shaping school culture: Pitfalls, paradoxes, and promises. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Offers strategies on the use of stories, rituals and traditions to create a positive school culture.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2001). The right to learn: A blueprint for creating schools that work. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Provides a vision of exceptional, learner-centered schools and describes the policies and practices that are needed to create these schools on a system-wide basis.
Manvell, E. (2012). The violence continuum: Creating a safe school climate. Lanham, MD: R&L Education. Describes what makes a school a safe place and explores how to build the supportive relationships with students necessary for a positive school climate.
Stronge, J., Richard, H., Catano, N., (2008). Qualities of effective principals. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Provides an overview of the factors that principals must address to be effective, including a discussion of creating an effective school climate.
The 12 Dimensions of School Climate Measured:
Autism Speaks School Community Tool Kit
At the start of the 2008-09 school year, Autism Speaks launched an online School Community Tool Kit to assist educators and school staff in understanding and supporting students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This free Tool Kit includes several modules: an overview of autism, information about inclusion of students with autism, strategies for intervention, information targeted to specific members of the school community, and information about a variety of resources. To view the press release and learn more about Autism Speaks and their work, visit: http://www.autismspeaks.org/press/school_community_tool_kit.php. Click here to view and download The School Community Toolkit.
Tolerance.org Classroom Activities
Tolerance.org, a web project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, hosts a variety of resources and lesson plans to help parents, kids, educators and others promote diversity in their schools and communities. Site visitors can browse a full list of classroom activities or search by topic, grade-level and subject area at:http://www.tolerance.org/teach/activities/index.jsp.
Several activities focus specifically on disability rights and disability awareness, although topics on this site touch on issues of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, body image and size bias, bullying, conflict resolution, and more.
Responding to Learner Diversity in the European Union
Funded by the European Union, teacher educators from seven EU countries: the Universities of Malta, Amsterdam (Netherlands), Dalarna (Sweden), Leipzig (Germany), Manchester (UK), Marijampole (Lithuania), and the NGO Motivace-zivotni styl (Czech Republic), came together in 2008 to produce multicultural and multimedia teacher education materials for online and face-to-face courses on responding to pupil diversity. The materials consist of a teacher’s handbook, DVD with readings and video clips, and a tutor’s manual. They can serve as a basis for teacher education through reflective practice in opening up to and understanding and responding to the diversity of strengths and needs of students in the classroom. They reflect the experience of a varied international group of practitioners in different European countries and up-to-date research on teaching and learning. The handbook, DVD, and tutor’s manual are available to download for free from: www.dtmp.org.
UNESCO - Languages of the World
One of the goals of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is to encourage linguistic diversity while respecting the mother tongue at all levels of education. A key component of inclusive education is the value and celebration of cultural diversity toward a greater unity among all children. The UNESCO Education Sector has prepared a World Languages Map, as an illustration of the linguistic diversity of our planet, as well as a tool that contains practical information on the languages spoken throughout the countries of the world. This interactive map allows students to search the globe in pursuit of a greater awareness of cultural and linguistic diversity. To find out more go to:http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/ev.php-URL_ID=12871&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html