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School Culture and Climate

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  School Culture and Climate What's New Creating a Welcoming Classroom for Homeless Students ( Education Update , June 2010)  ASCD's  A Lexicon of Learning   defines school climate as: The sum of the values, cultures, safety practices, and organizational structures within a school that cause it to function and react in particular ways. Some schools are said to have a nurturing environment that recognizes children and treats them as individuals; others may have the feel of authoritarian structures where rules are strictly enforced and hierarchical control is strong. Teaching practices, diversity, and the relationships among administrators, teachers, parents, and students contribute to school climate. Although the two terms are somewhat interchangeable, school climate refers mostly to the school's effects on students, whereas school culture refers more to the way teachers and other staff members work together. It defines school culture as: The sum of the values, cultures, safety practices, and organizational structures within a school that cause it to function and react in particular ways. Some schools are said to have a nurturing environment that recognizes children and treats them as individuals; others may have the feel of authoritarian structures where rules are strictly enforced and hierarchical control is strong. Teaching practices, diversity, and the relationships among administrators, teachers, parents, and students contribute to school climate. Although the two terms are somewhat interchangeable, school climate refers mostly to the school's effects on students, whereas school culture refers more to the way teachers and other staff members work together. SECTION I: SCHOOL CLIMATE AND CULTURE Establishing and sustaining a school environment free of harassment, bullying, and discrimination should involve an examination of a school’s climate and culture. School cl imate and culture have a profound impact on student achievement, behavior, and reflects the school community’s culture. School climate may be defined as the quality and character of school life. It may be based on patterns of student, parent, and school personnel experiences within the school and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures. Key factors impacting school climate may include, but are not limited to, a person’s per ception of their personal safety, interpersonal relationships, teaching, learning, as well as the external environment (http://www.schoolclimate.org/climate). The U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and   Healthy Students (http://safesupportiveschools.ed.gov) Safe and Supportive Schools Model   emphasizes the core areas of student/staff/community engagement, safety, physical environment, as well as emotional environment.    A school’s culture is largely determined by the values, shared beliefs, and behavior of all the various stakeholders within the school community and reflects the school’s social norms.  A presentation developed by Dr. David Osher and Dr. Chris Boccanfuso for the U.S. Department of Education Safe and Supportive School Technical Assistance Center further demonstrates the interconnectedness of enhanced academic outcomes and a school climate where students feel safe, supported, academically challenged, and socially capable. See: http://safesupportiveschools.ed.gov/reader.php?upload=/20110303_PresentationFinal   21011SSSTASchoolClimateWebinarpublic.pdf      The following provides a guide to identifying the key stakeholders in a school –  as it directly relates to school climate and culture. Who is the School Community?   Factors affecting school culture      Students and their families, including persons in parental relation    Teachers    Administrators    Counselors, social workers, school nurses, parent coordinators, PTA members    Related service providers    School safety personnel and resource officers    Cafeteria, custodial, and other support staff    Transportation staff    Community organizations      Staff expectations of student behavior and academic achievement    School policies and procedures    Consistent and equitable treatment of all students    Equity in, and access to, resources (budget, space, time, personnel, supplies, equipment)    Equity in, and access to, support services    Student and family engagement    SCHOOL CLIMATE AND CODES OF CONDUCT Establishing behavioral expectations for students, staff, and visitors that encourage a positive and respectful school climate and culture are essential to creating and maintaining a safe and supportive school community. Commissioner’s regulation §100.2(l)(2)(ii)(b) reflects the Dignity Act’s requirement that boards of education create policies, procedures and guidelines intended to create a school environment that is free from harassment, bullying and discrimination (see Education Law §13). See: www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2012Meetings/March2012/312p12a4.pdf.    A WHOLE SCHOOL APPROACH –  BUILDING STUDENT READINESS There is an expectation that schools promote a positive school culture that encourages interpersonal and inter-group respect among students and between students and staff. To ensure that schools provide all  students with a supportive and safe environment in which to grow and thrive academically and socially, each of the following facets of a school community must be considered: Social Environment ã Interpersonal Relations: Students & Staff ã Respect for Diversity   ã Emotional Well Being and Sense of Safety   ã Student Engagement   ã School & Family Collaboration   ã Community Partnerships   Physical Environment ã Building Conditions   ã Physical Safety   ã School  Wide Protocols ã Classroom Management   Behavioral Environment, Expectations & Supports ã Physical & Mental Well Being   ã Prevention & Intervention Services   ã Behavioral Accountability (Disciplinary and Interventional Responses)  The periodic review of a scho ol’s social, physical, and behavioral environments, as well as student and staff expectations and supports enable school leaders and personnel to play a key role in establishing
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