School Climate: Working Together for Success

Two teachers working together

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 greatly impact the behavior of students. Therefore, the adults in the learning community should be aware that they serve as role models for their students’ behavior.

“The collective attitude of a teaching staff, its teachers, student services, and administrators, is the most powerful conduit to ignite the highest degree of success in academic achievement for students.  The staff is the ‘power source’ and the students receive the benefit of the power source to light the way to their future.”

John Steltz, “Building Positive School Climate” 2010, Wordpress

It is necessary for administrators and staff members to understand their campus needs and make plans to bring about change. Principals may want to conduct surveys, review school data and speak to stakeholders, such as parents, teachers and students.  Find out what their opinions are regarding the campus climate. Do they feel safe?  Are their needs being met in a respectful manner? After you have determined your campus needs, work with stakeholders to establish goals that address the areas you have identified.

Consider using some of the ideas listed below in your action plan:

  • Get input from stakeholders
  • Identify the areas that require support
  • Provide training to staff members and parents
  • Encourage parent involvement and education
  • Use a research based system for addressing behavioral issues
  • Have a plan to address resistance to change
  • Use teaching opportunities to promote respect for all students and staff members
  • Make sure students are aware of your expectations
  • Have on-going meetings with staff to review goals and problem-solve issues that may arise
  • Recognize and reward individuals who take steps to help bring about positive change.

Adults should respond to any deviation from the standards for behavior that have established.  It is essential that all parties involved be committed to achieving your goals.  Faculty and staff should work together and support each other in implementing positive change.  Monitor your plan and reaffirm your dedication to achieve your goal of a positive inclusive environment for learning. Encourage character development and let students know that one person can make a difference.

The individuals involved in implementing the plan should understand that success might not come overnight.  Creating a supportive school environment requires commitment and perseverance. Think of it as a garden that requires tending.  An unattended garden will not flourish. However, with appropriate care and the right nourishment, great things will happen.

A learning environment that advocates respect for others leads to improved achievement.  It produces good plants.  Remember, students require guidance and support to build character and appreciate others.  Consider providing opportunities for all students to get involved and build relationships.   Students with lower grade averages are often not allowed to participate in certain sports and other activities.  Make opportunities that give all students the opportunities to participate and feel a part of the school family.

Administrators who have been successful in this area should share their ideas with their peers.  But, keep in mind that each campus is different.  Principals may be able to use some elements of others’ successful plans.  However, it is important that each school’s plan meet the unique needs of the campus.


Building Positive School Climate, John Steltz, 2010 Wordpress
Steps to Becoming an Inclusive Learning-Friendly Environment, UNESCO, 2004
Learning and Succeeding in a Caring Environment, Dan Mulligan 2005
Leadership Capacity for Lasting School Improvement by Linda Lambert, ASCD 2003
The Results Fieldbook: Practical Strategies from Dramatically Improved Schools by James Schmoker, 2001

Written by Lynne Guidry, M.Ed.

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