Supportive and caring teachers, safety from bullying and violence, students feeling connected with their school, and parental involvement in that school can all lead to a positive school climate. This is important because a more positive climate can help improve educational outcomes for students, even helping to overcome gaps between students of higher and lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
While chances are that quite a few teachers actually believe this already, it’s good to know that they were right all along. According to an analysis of research published since 2000, scholars in the United States and Israel have determined that positive school climate can make up for many challenges students face. Making schools safer, more supportive spaces can help kids learn more and have greater social mobility.
This might be easier said than done, and the specific needs of different schools will no doubt make the process uneven, should it be applied across multiple schools, districts, and countries.
The researchers behind this study are calling for more research into this specific issue, which they are right to do, but they also want to see schools working to improve climates. There are many resources that administrators and teachers already have access to, even if they might present conflicting ideas about how to make necessary changes.
They also suggest that it’s important to investigate an entire school community’s perceptions of school climate. School administrators and parents need to be involved just as much as students and teachers do. This would not only allow more accurate assessment, it would help schools and their communities to design programs tailor-made for their own schools rather than trying to enact a “one size fits all” solution to the school climate issue.
While more research will no doubt make the process of improving school climate easier, and allow for the training of administrators and teachers to that end, educators owe it to their students to get the ball rolling now, not later. Later is for future students, there are kids who could use that boost in schools now.