Safe and Supportive School Climate
A positive school climate is the product of a school’s attention to fostering safety; promoting a supportive academic, disciplinary, and physical environment; and encouraging and maintaining respectful, trusting, and caring relationships throughout the school community no matter the setting.
A positive school climate is critically related to school success. It can improve attendance, achievement, and retention and even rates of graduation. School climate has many aspects. Defining a framework for understanding school climate can help educators identify key areas to focus on to create safe and supportive climates in their schools. Measuring school climate is essential.
School Climate Improvement Resource Package
This resource is provided free by the United States Department of Education (ED). The way students, families, teachers, and other school staff experience the school and school-related activities affects student attendance, learning, and achievement. Students who learn in positive learning environments that are safe, supportive, and engaging are more likely to improve academically, participate more fully in the classroom, and develop skills that will help them be successful in school and in life. This resource provides district and school leaders, teachers, school staff, and other members of the school community with the basics on how to initiate, implement, and sustain school climate improvements.
School Climate Survey
ED provides a free School Climate Survey with reports to guide initiatives designed to measure and strengthen a positive school climate. The Survey measures Climate across three domains including: Engagement, Safety and Environment. Items assessed within the domains include: Cultural and Linguistic Competence, Relationships, School Participation, Emotional Safety, Physical Safety, Bullying/Cyberbullying, Substance Abuse, Emergency Preparedness/Management, Physical Environment, Instructional Environment, Physical Health, Mental Health and Discipline. Surveys are available for engaging stakeholders in the process including educators, community members, parents and students.
School Climate Practice
The National School Climate Center provides practice briefs that summarize research and effective practices for building and sustaining a positive school climate. The site includes a Resource Center with briefs, tools and case studies about improving school climate. Available is information on measuring school climate and access to a comprehensive school climate inventory. The Center provides a school climate building process that is integrated with Social Emotional Learning, bully prevention and diversity inclusion best practices.
Positive School Discipline
Positive School Discipline is a comprehensive approach that uses discipline to teach rather than punish and, as a result, helps students succeed and thrive in school. Schools that take this approach promote positive student behavior while preventing negative and risky behaviors. Positive School Discipline is integrated into the policies, programs, and practices of a school and is applied system-wide—in the classroom, school, and community—to create a safe, supportive learning environment for all students. The Positive School Discipline Course for School Leaders is free of charge. This self-paced, interactive course for school leaders can help guide you to create an environment where students can learn and thrive. There is also a Team User’s Guide for group learning among leaders within a school or district.
*Olweus Bullying Program*
This is a multicomponent program aimed at preventing or reducing bullying among middle school students. OBPP provides a comprehensive framework focused on systemic change to create a safe and positive school climate.
Stopbullying.gov provides information and strategies for schools on Cyberbullying regarding: awareness, warning signs that a child is being Cyberbullied or is Cyberbullying others, and what to do when cyberbullying happens. The site includes prevention strategies for establishing policies, engaging parents, students and the community in prevention. Guidance is provided to build a safe environment at school, including a recommendation for PBIS strategies to reward students when they show thoughtfulness and respect for peers, adults and the school. A searchable database includes resources for bully prevention tips, facts, campaigns and curriculum for both bullying and Cyberbullying.
*Cyberbullying Research Center
The Center includes information on Cyberbullying for schools including: Identification, Prevention and Response. There are recorded presentations on Cyberbullying including Actionable Strategies for Administrators, presentations for educators, students and parents. Tips to prevent and address Cyberbullying are provided for educators. Tips are provided for teens on cell phone safety. Fact sheets are provided for parents on what to do when your child is Cyberbullied. Information on case law and legislation is provided along with visual mapping of state laws including Texas bullying laws. In addition, there is a research link to review facts, statistics and journal articles. Prevention strategies include: teaching social and emotional learning skills, cultivating a positive school climate, using peer mentoring, formally assessing the problem, teaching students that all forms of bullying are unacceptable, specifying clear rules, creating a comprehensive format contract to stop bullying in school policies, educating the community, consulting your school attorney, and designating a “Cyberbullying Expert.”
*Steps to Respect: A Bullying Prevention Program
This is a schoolwide intervention designed to prevent bullying behavior and counter the personal and social effects of bullying where it occurs by promoting a positive school climate. Based on the premise that intervening early in the developmental stages of children most strongly impacts risk and protective factors, the program is designed for use with students in grades 3-6, and collaboration within the entire school community (including administrators, counselors, and teachers) is inherent in the model. Specifically, the program aims to (1) increase school staff's awareness and responsiveness to bullying situations, (2) foster socially responsible beliefs among students, (3) enhance social and emotional skills to counter bullying and to promote healthy relationships, (4) promote actions (e.g., joining groups, resolving conflict) associated with general social competence, and (5) reduce bullying (and related problems) and improve positive bystander behavior. The program has three components: schoolwide program guide, staff training and classroom curriculum.
Julie Wayman, Mental/Behavioral Health Coordinator