Saturday, April 20, 2013

#ESCchat #1: Our Impact on School Climate 4/18/13

On Thursday night, current and aspiring school counselors joined me in the Twitterverse for our first #ESCchat. The chat topic was "Our Impact on School Climate." I posed the questions and we chatted about responses, shared ideas, and gave each other suggestions. After the chat, I felt so energized and excited to continue working on improving school climate at my school! Here are some highlights from the chat. To read the whole transcript, click here

==>Q1: How would YOU define “School Climate”?

  •  School climate is the quality of the day to day for students, parents, and staff
  •  I think school climate is the feeling that you get in a school building. Feelings of safety and connection to people & school!
  • School climate takes the emotional temp of a community, including admin, teachers, students & families
  • School climate involves many dimensions, physical (appearance, etc) social (emotional relationships), academic (quality of learning)
==>Q2: Awesome definitions, now what does a POSITIVE school climate LOOK & FEEL like?

  • Harmony & Collaboration, teachers, students, staff members, and administrators create a positive school climate
  • Positive school climate feels welcoming! It's a place where you want to be!
  • Collaboration & respect especially when there are conflicting views on how to handle children's needs.
  • Willingness to communicate, work thru conflict, honor & value differences, support those who need a boost, and having fun!
  • Happy people, sharing ideas, resources, concerns.
  • All students feel comfortable, welcome, safe, wanted, and have caring people they can trust and it includes all stakeholders!
  • Principals that involve staff and exercise the principles of shared leadership are able to maintain a positive climate.
==>Q3: What are some issues that negatively impact a school climate?

  • People unwilling to listen and compromise.
  • Stress, tension & losing focus create neg school climate
  • Kids feeling unsafe. Fights, bullying, peer pressure, etc. All things that #schoolcounselors can combat!
  • Cliques (students and staff)
  • Lack of vision, no direction
  • School/Staff are unwelcoming, disruptions to learning by negative behaviors, no connection between families and school staff
  • No flexibility, those that are resistant to change and are not open to hearing different perspectives
  • I wonder if the key to a neg climate is a loss of focus on the children
==>Q4: In what ways can #SchoolCounselors improve their school’s climate?

  • Gather data! Survey teachers, parents, students and evaluate results
  • By modeling for students, parents, and other staff the qualities that help foster a positive school climate
  • One idea-I put words of encouragement on the bathroom wall; treats and notes in boxes
  • Datadriven practices where you can make those nonbelievers believe, snowball effect, SC influence +change
  • Help to bring together all stakeholders to evaluate and improve the school climate.
  • It has to start with admin - a clear vision - shared leadership empowering all stakeholders
  • Some schools create compliment trees in the T lounge-teachers write positive notes to each other. 
  • We have doing Olweus for about 4 years. The data shows it has really helped reduced bullying in our "hot spots"
  • How about inter-grade activities to help improve school climate...
  • Acknowledge/celebrate the behaviors that contribute to a positive environment... incl. staff, parents, and admin & students!
  • Mentoring & events like Mix-it-Up at Lunch Day
==>Q5: What formal/infomal tools or “thermometers” can we use to measure our impact?

  • We track PBIS slips for students and teachers - tells us who's buying in
  • Pre/post tests can be adapted to any age, qualitative: observations, more smiles, behavior changes
  • I attend as many grade level meetings as possible
  • I use the amount of students that come to see me. It shows me that students feel confident that I can help them
  • I love getting parent feedback too!
  • Informal-Staff hosting after school clubs, participation in PTA events
  • Our school does an anonymous exit survey for 5th graders before they go to MS, and we learn a LOT about our climate!
  • Eat lunch with grade levels- opportunity to informally get feedback
Were you unable to join us for our chat? No problem! Continue the conversation anytime using hashtag #escchat, or leave a comment here if you have thoughts or ideas to contribute! 

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