- Tracey Smith, principal of Brookwood Elementary School in Georgia, shared with eSchool News her strategies for helping teachers take ownership of their work and helping students take control of their learning by creating a more positive learning culture.
- Teachers are connected to Curriculum Leadership, Grade-Level Leadership and Positive Learning Environment (PLE) Leadership teams as part of the process, and the school provides both a “Zen Den” for students and a renovated teacher’s lounge to help with stress reduction.
- Creating a happier and more caring environment for students and teachers has had positive effects at the school, which has a higher school performance scores compared to other schools in the state with similar student populations.
Working to create a more positive school culture may seem like a waste of time to some school administrators who face a host of more pressing issues at school. However, creating a happier place for people to work and learn can help prevent some of the more pressing issues from occurring in the first place. In fact, some states see school climate as such an important matter that they have included school climate surveys in their ESSA plans.
A positive school atmosphere encourages student attendance, a factor that helps cure many school woes. It also helps reduce stress in teachers and students and boosts a more positive mindset in everyone involved. Some studies even suggest that school climate is a key factor in student achievement and teacher retention.
Since supporting student achievement is educators' primary goal, finding ways to improve school climate and culture should be a top priority. As the National Association of School Psychologists states, “A school’s environment — and the degree to which students feel connected, accepted, and respected — heavily influences students’ academic achievement, mental health, and overall school success."