School Climate FAQ
Common School Climate
School climate refers to the quality of the schoolwide environment. The school climate is composed of all major stakeholders’ experiences, practices, and interpersonal relationships. A strong, positive school climate encourages academic learning, character development, and community engagement that are necessary to the long-term success of students and the school.
Positive school climates can manifest in a number of different ways, but all positive school climates feature community members that feel safe, included, and accepted because the interpersonal relationships within the school are characterized by respect and inclusiveness. Schools can foster these relationships by including equity training and team building for staff in professional development, creating school wide plans to build strong student habits, and building curricula that are responsive to the diversity—both academically and culturally—of learners within the community.
Another way to develop a positive school climate is to prioritize open and frequent communication between the school and key stakeholders. Conducting surveys throughout the year to gather data about how students, parents, faculty, and staff members feel about how the school community functions or doesn’t. The data opens a dialogue between members of the community and provides an opportunity to find out what is currently working and what should be adjusted to improve the climate of the school. Being responsive to community feedback can increase student, community, and family engagement and trust within the school community.
The choices a school makes about academic and character development also contribute to the school climate. In a positive school climate, academic curricula are culturally responsive, appropriately rigorous, and address the diverse needs of learners. A purposeful character development curriculum directly teaches and models for students the habits that are critical to their success. Through acknowledging and incentivizing students when they exhibit these habits, the school climate benefits from positive, safe, and inclusive classrooms, where culture killers such as disrespect and bullying are diminished.