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?

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

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

Web 2.0 Applications to Support School Climate

Surveys Survey Monkey is a free, easy tool to use school wide to gather and organize data. Rubrics 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! Blogs Blogging is an effective way to communicate… Read more

School Climate: Recommended Reading

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… Read more

Links to Learn More About Improving School Climate

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… Read more

School Climate: Working Together for Success

The campus administrator plays an important role in establishing school climate.  It is the administrator who provides the vision and guidance needed to establish a positive campus environment.  Successful principals understand that positive relationships and respect for others are necessary for student success.  They realize the attitudes and actions of adults in the learning place… Read more

A Safe, Caring School Environment

According to the National School Climate Center, a safe and caring school environment is one in which students feel positively connected to others, respected, that their work is meaningful, and that they are good at what they do. We know these words describe the kind of inclusive school climate we want for our children—an environment… Read more