Note: The opinions expressed in this report are those
of the author and may or may not be in agreement with SSTA officers or
trustees, but are offered as being worthy of consideration by those responsible
for making decisions.
Issues in School Climate
Relationships Between Climate and School
Research Findings on School Climate Determinants
Towards a Conceptualization of School Climate
School Climate as an Aspect of School Culture
Differences and Similarities Between Culture and Climate
Needs Assessment Techniques
Instruments to Assess School Climate
In the summer of 1986 the SSTA approached the researcher
to prepare a monograph on school climate which would reflect current thinking,
research and practice.
The past decade has witnessed an acute interest by researchers and practitioners as to the effects of schooling on students. In particular the emphasis has been on how schools can improve student achievement and the quality of school life. This interest has become particularly focussed as a result of the literature on school effectiveness (sometimes referred to as ..school development", "school improvement", or "school effects"). A sizable body of literature, both theoretical and empirical, has dealt with such concerns using the school climate construct (Anderson, 1982). School climate research, according to Anderson (1982), ... is clearly the stepchild of both organizational climate research and school effects research, having inherited instruments, theory and methods from both research paradigms" (p. 368). Despite this relationship, Anderson argues that the construct school climate can be distinguished as a separate entity.
This review is intended as an update on the development and current status of school climate research, as well as its theory and practice. It presents findings about the sources and consequences of school climate, as well as some models that are being used to improve climate. As such, this monograph is designed for teachers, administrators and policymakers who are concerned with improving the learning climate of their school. A special emphasis has been placed on project developments within the Canadian context.
Consequently, this monograph deals with the following issues:
(2) conceptualization and measurement of school climate;
(3) problems in the measurement and application of the school climate construct;
(4) relationship between school climate and school effectiveness;
(5) research on the attributes of school climate;
(6) relationship between school climate and school culture;
(7) models of climate improvement; and
(8) examples of school climate improvement projects within the
Halpin and Croft (1963) developers of the Organizational Description Questionnaire (OCDQ) used this analogy to describe climate: "Personality is to the individual what climate is to the organization" (p.1). Similarly, Nevankwo (1979) referred to climate as "the we-feeling, group sub-culture or the interactive life of the school" (P.268).
Anderson (1982) chose as an organizing device for reviewing the literature on school climate Tagiuri's (1968) taxonomy of climate related terms. Tagiuri defined climate as the total environmental quality within an organization. Accordingly, his dimensions of environment includes its ecology (the physical and material components), its milieu (the social dimension of people), its social system (the patterned relationships in the organization), and its culture (the belief systems, values cognitive structures, and meanings).
Others have included dimensions such as behavior settings, organizational structure, context of the situation and characteristics of the individuals within the environment. However, Anderson (1982) argues that Tagiuri's system is preferable to others because "it reflects the growing consensus of many climate researchers that school climate includes the total environmental quality within a given school building" (P.369).
In a similar vein, Hoy and Miskel (1987) defined organizational climate as "the set of internal characteristics that distinguishes one school from another and influences the behavior of people" (p.225). They further concede that the climate is the end product of the school groups - students, teachers, administrators - as they work to balance the organizational and individual aspects of a social system" (p.225-227). As such, people experiencing a particular climate share certain values, social beliefs and social norms. Their definition is similar to that offered by Tagiuri and Litwin (1968).
Thus, for our purposes, Tagiuri and Litwin's (cited in Owens, 1981, p.193) modified definition will be used. We shall consider school climate to be a relatively enduring quality of the internal environment of the school that: (a) is experienced by the members (students, teachers, administrators, secretaries, consultants and custodians), (b) influences their behavior, and (c) can be described in terms of the values, norms and beliefs of a particular set of attributes of the school. In this monograph we will be especially concerned with those institutional patterns and behavioral practices that enhance or impede student achievement. Moreover, this definition implies that we are concerned about the educational environment of the entire school. It is recognized that there are other educational environments (e.g. the individual classroom).
Even if one can agree on a conceptualization of climate and its definition, a number of issues must be addressed:
(2) Is there a relationship between the climate of the school and the effectiveness of the school?
(3) How does one go about predicting and controlling the climate of the school? If we do (1) and (2), how do we shape and control the development of climate in a planned way?
(4) Do the variables used to describe climate constitute a mediated, additive or interactive basis?
(5) What is the level of data that we require for each variable?
(6) Can participants' subjective judgments be accurate in defining climate as an objective matter?
It is not the intention of this monograph to provide a comprehensive review of all of the research and instruments used in climate research. Rather, the intention is to describe the range of instruments available and to refer briefly to the more important conceptualizations of a school's climate.
Anderson (1982) points out that school climate research owes much to the work done in business and university contexts as well as the later work on classroom climates. These threads are briefly reviewed.
The Business Context
Much of the work has focussed on the pervasive influence of an organization's environment on such aspects as employee morale, productivity and turnover (e.g., Argyris, 1958; Porter and Lawler, 1968). Business, in particular, was concerned with increasing productivity by examining the situational characteristics that impacted on individual behavior.
The recognition of the importance of the environment however raised a number of other related concerns: (1) the validity of perceptual versus objective climate measures; (2) climate as a reflection of organizational versus individual attributes; and (3) the distinction between perception and attitude (Anderson, 1982).
The College Context
Various instruments have been developed for College use. These stem in part from the student problems that were prevalent in the colleges during the 1960's and early 1970's. The first instrument, the College Characteristics Index (CCI), was developed by Pace and Stern (1958) to measure the college "press" (pressures being exerted by the schools as perceived by students). Behavior was seen as a function of congruencies between press and need (measured by the Activities Index (AI)). The theory for the instruments was based on the work of Murray (1938), who hypothesized that individuals will respond differently to environmental presses depending on their individual needs.
Subsequent modifications of the CCI resulted in other college environment instruments. These include: (1) the Organizational Climate Index (OCI) developed by Stern and Steinhoff (1965) which provides a profile of the school based on development and control; (2) the College Characteristics Analysis (CCA) which attempts to differentiate administrator, staff and student press; and (3) the Inventory of College Characteristics (ICC) used to differentiate students on the basis of their level of aspiration.
The Classroom Context
According to Anderson (1982), in the late 1960's a number of researchers focussed their attention on the classroom. Many of these instruments share their theoretical grounding in Murray's (1938) work with environmental press. Examples of instruments developed includes: (1) the Classroom Environment Scale (CES); (2) the Learning Environment Inventory (LEI) and (3) the My Class Inventory (MCI). Moo's (1979) describes in detail the usage of these instruments.
Major School Climate Instruments
Only the major instruments will be mentioned, as most climate researchers either use these or derive their own from them. For a more extensive description of climate instruments see Anderson's (1982, pp. 374-383) review.
Organizational Climate Description Questionnaire, (OCDQ). Perhaps the most used and over-used school climate instrument is the OCDQ developed by Halpin and Croft (1963). Based on the consensus of staff perception, the instrument is usually administered to the entire school staff. Each respondent is asked to describe the extent to which each statement characterizes his or her school using a four-point scale (rarely occurs, sometimes occurs, often occurs, and very frequently occurs).
The instrument contains sixty-four items grouped into eight subtests. Four subtests describe teacher-teacher interactions and four subtests describe teacher-principal interactions. An example of the teacher-teacher subtest is "The morale of the teachers is high", while a teacher-principal subtest contains items such as "The principal sets an example by working hard".
Halpin and Croft not only identified the eight subtests to map the profile of the climate of each school, but through factor analysis identified six basic clusters of profiles along a continuum. The six climate types were described as autonomous, controlled, familiar, paternal, closed and open.
Subsequent validity studies have shown that the individual subtests are more predictive of the school's climate than the overall climate categories (Andrews, 1965). Furthermore, apart from the open-closed climate classifications, the middle classifications are of questionable validity (Thomas, 1976). The OCDQ was essentially designed for elementary schools. Subsequent validity studies have challenged its utility for large high schools. Recently, Kottkamp et al. (1987) reported a revision of the OCDQ to make it valid for use in secondary school climate assessment.
Pupil-Control Ideology (PCI). The PCI was developed by Willower, Eidell and Hoy (1967) to measure teacher and principal orientation to pupil control. They postulated a pupil-control continuum from custodial to humanistic.
The PCI is completed by teachers and consists of twenty items using a Likert-type scale with five response categories (from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree"). Examples of items from the PCI include:
"Pupils can be trusted to work together."
"Being friendly with pupils often leads them to become too familiar."
Perhaps the strength of the instruments is, as pointed out by Hoy and Miskel (1982), that it "allows another view of the school climate, one that focuses on teacher-student relations rather than principal-teacher relations" (p.202). Additionally, pupil-control orientation suggests a great deal about the nature of teacher-teacher and teacher-principal behavior.
Profile of Organizational Characteristics (POC). Likert (1961) developed the POC as an indicator of superordinate-subordinate relationships in organizations. Essentially the managerial systems fall into four categories: System 1 Exploitive-Authoritative, System 2 - Benevolent-Authoritative, System 3 - Consultative, and System 4 - Participative. The instrument incorporates eight characteristics that focus on leadership processes, motivational forces, communication processes, interaction-influence processes, the decision-making processes, goal setting processes, control processes, and performance goals. These eight variables can be used to map the profile of the school and place it on a continuum from exploitive-authoritative to participative systems. Sample items adopted by Hoy and Miskel (1982, p. 196-197) are:
Likert and Likert have used their system variables to develop the Profile of a School (POS) instrument. The POS comes in several versions and can be used with teachers, administrators and students to map the perceptions of the school climate.
Sample items from the POS include:
(1) Teacher Questionnaire:
|Very Little||Some||Considerable||Very Great|
|To what extent are you involved in major
related to your work?
|How much does the principal try to help
you with your problems?"
|How often is the behavior of your teachers friendly and supportive?"||
|How well do your teachers know the problems you face in your school work?"||
Needs - Press Instruments. A number of needs-press type of instruments have been developed for schools. Stern (1970) reported the High School Characteristics Index (HSCI) used to measure press in high schools. Similarly Sinclair (1970) developed the Elementary School Environment Survey (ESES). The ESES uses student perceptions of teachers and peer values and attitudes in an attempt to derive the profiles of schools. Finally, My School Inventory (MSI) was adopted from My Class Inventory (MCI) for use with elementary students.
The Quality of School Life (QSL). Epstein and McPartland (1976) developed the QSL on the basis of their belief that school life is affected by the formal and informal aspects of schooling, by the social and task-related experiences, and by the relationships with peers and authority figures (p.16). The instrument has been used at all levels of schooling.
Sample items from the QSL include:
I hardly ever do anything very exciting in school.
" My teacher cares about my feelings."
Alienation and self-concept scales. Seeman's (1959) framework for analyzing alienation has been used most frequently. He identified five dimensions of alienation: powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, and self-estrangement.
Hoy and Miskel (1982) report a number of studies that relate dimensions of alienation and self-concept to other climate scales such as the OCDQ and PCI. They conclude that the climate of the schools and the students' sense of involvement and identification in the school "are important factors in the students' educational growth and development" (p. 208).
Attitude surveys. Many school systems have modified or adapted previous instruments to serve their own needs. Typical of this approach are the attitude surveys of the Edmonton Public School System. Examples of these attitude surveys are shown in Chapter 2. A number of schools and school systems are moving in the direction where all stakeholders (students, teachers, administrators, custodians, secretarial, paraprofessional and parents) are sampled in an attempt to ascertain the climate of the school or district.
In conclusion,. What can we say about the instruments used to measure school climate? Anderson (1982), using Tagiuri's taxonomy concluded that most of the instruments tap the social systems and cultural dimensions. Much less attention is paid to the ecology and milieu dimensions.
Studies have identified the human organizational attributes that differentiate the more effective from the less effective schools. There is, however, a substantial body of research indicating that the effectiveness of schools, in terms of student learning and development, is significantly influenced by the quality and characteristics of the school climate. Owens (1981) argues.-
From a research review of climate attributes a model of school climate determinants will be presented. Consequently some related variables (e.g., teacher effects, structural, etc.) will be initially presented.
School Facility Characteristics
Current research does not report any relationship between the age of the building and student outcomes (attendance, achievement, and behaviour). On the other hand, a number of studies (e.g., Rutter et al., 1979; PDK, 1980) have noted that behaviour and academic attainment tended to be better when the school was clean and in good decorative condition. Rutter et al. (1979) found an inverse relationship between the amount of student work displayed and graffiti in the building.
Generally schools exhibiting a positive ethos are clean and tidy. They not only exhibit much student work, but one also finds many pictures, plants, posters and icons that help depict the school ethos. Evidence of the importance of academic symbols are clearly visible throughout the school.
There is some initial research evidence that indicates that landscaping the school grounds results in better student behaviour. It should be pointed out that where this attribute has been investigated, teachers, parents and students have been involved in the process. In this regard it would be interesting to study student behavior in South Australia where many schools have embarked on school grounds improvement projects. Activities such as planting trees, shrubs, flowers, grassing, supergraphics on school walls, building of flower boxes, patios, barbecues and decorative walls, have been undertaken.
Safe and Orderly Environments
Murphy et al (1985) claim that "effective schools maintain a safe and orderly environment for learning" (P. 368). They contend that there are two parts to this variable. The first part refers to the climate wherein students and staff are free from the danger of harm to themselves or their property. In other words, students do not feel threatened or afraid to walk about the school, rather they feel secure and comfortable.
A second aspect of this attribute is that the school has a systematic set of discipline policies and practices. Effective schools tend to emphasize a few major rules that are specific and easy to understand, and that have been agreed to by students, teachers and parents. The emphasis is on consistency of behaviour expectations since the policies were agreed to by all stakeholders. Murphy et al. (1985) indicate that the consequences of breaking rules "are incremental in nature, immediate, hard to avoid, and consistent throughout the school" (p. 368). Furthermore, administrators support the discipline effort of teachers to ensure a total school approach. Finally, it should be pointed out that there is a regular review of school policies and practices.
Opportunities For Student Participation
Several studies (e.g. Rutter et al., 1979; Wynne, 1980) have noted the importance of using opportunities for student responsibility and participation. Rutter et al. (1979) found that schools which gave students tasks of responsibility were associated with better pupil behaviour, better attendance, less delinquency and higher achievement. The key aspect of this variable includes opportunities for students to learn responsibility, to practice leadership behavior, to identify with adult role models, and to learn the skills of participation (Murphy et al., 1985). As students are able to take responsible roles, and achieve satisfaction from them, so they become more likely to identify with educational objectives. Successful schools ensure that a variety of class and school-wide activities are planned in which students can participate.
A further aspect of this variable includes the sharing of activities between staff and students outside of the classroom situation. Such activities help each to appreciate the other better and to share some of the same goals. Whether the activities are a student-staff volleyball game, or a staff, student and parent breakfast event, all serve to tie the school into a closely knit community. In other words, the school climate is strengthened.
Use of Rewards and Praise
The use of a clear, concise reward system has been associated with higher levels of achievement (Rutter et al., 1976; Wynne, 1980). In effective schools, there are numerous opportunities, both within the classroom and on a school-wide basis, for students to be honored for their efforts. In these schools, students receive rewards for academics, citizenship, participation, governance, sports, and service, but the most prestigious rewards are reserved for academics (Murphy et al., 1985). Although rewards may be given in a variety of ways (e.g., token, symbolic, and social), all rewards are designed to reinforce important school goals and norms.
Effective schools counter the effects of any contra-school peer group influences by increasing the rewards and satisfaction open to less able students and in that way ensuring that their particular needs are met. Such an approach ensures that all students have an opportunity to receive awards and experience success.
In effective schools teachers know how to use rewards and praise. They tend to maintain more praise than criticism and they recognize that praise is effective only when teachers are "significant others" in the lives of their students. They know their students and take an active interest in them as individuals.
High expectations have been related to school effectiveness more consistently than any other variable (e.g., Edmunds, 1979; Rutter et al., 1979). In essence, high expectations refers to a climate where the staff expect all students to do well, believe in their ability to influence student achievement, and are held accountable for student learning. This expectation is translated into specific school and classroom policies, practices and behaviors. For example, teachers with high expectations for student learning will emphasize punctuality, time-on-task, completion of assignments, willingness to see pupils about problems at any time, and mastery learning.
High expectations on the part of the principal for staff performance (as well as students) has also been associated with student outcomes (Edmonds, 1979; Brookover & Lezotte, 1979; PDK, 1980). Some researchers suggest that these expectations are related to teacher accountability. Whatever the reasons, high expectations for teacher performance has been identified as a crucial variable in student outcomes.
There are specific behaviors that principals engage in that elicit high expectations. These include: (1) being an assertive instructional leader, (2) being an excellent role model, (3) having a well articulated school mission, (4) planning and decision-making through collaborative processes, (5) emphasizing the importance of academics, (6) maintaining an ongoing, effective staff development program, and (7) regularly receiving and discussing staff performance. Additionally, effective principals tend to be assertive, more effective disciplinarians, and more inclined to assume responsibility.
Collegial Organizational Processes
Murphy et al. (1985), in reviewing the research on collegial organizational processes, contend that the most important are open communications, shared decision making, confrontation of conflict situations, collaborative planning, and the building of consensus. Various studies (e.g., Rutter et al., 1979; Wynne, 1980; PDK, 1980) have noted the relationship between staff involvement in decision making and student achievement. Rutter et al. (1980) also noted the beneficial effects of giving students a role in decision making. Increased participation in decision making encouraged students to accept school norms.
Wynne (1980) has noted the importance of good communication in effective schools. Good communication is important because it provides feedback for decision making, which then affects climate. Good communication means there is trust, respect, openness and caring from the participants. Each participant in the process does not attempt to hide information from the other.
Murphy et al. (1985) make two additional points about collegial relations. First, that the primary focus of these collegial processes is on academic matters, not social relations. Secondly, that collegial relations work well in combination with strong leadership. Typically in effective schools principals tend to emphasize collaboration, participation and consensus.
Student-Staff Cohesion and Support
Good student-teacher relationships are important attributes of schools with good climate. Wynne (1980) indicated the importance of good relationships and extra-curricular activities as contributing to a school's coherence. Shared activities by staff and students encourages students to accept the school norms (Rutter et al., 1979). Duke and Perry (1978) noted that good student-teacher relationships were associated with good behavior, while the PDK study (1980) found these relationships to be associated with academic achievement. The latter study found that where the student-teacher relations were good, students tended to work harder and to enjoy their schoolwork more.
Evidence of cohesion and support between staff and students can be seen in such areas as staff commitment to co-curricular activities, teacher-student interactions outside the classroom, and the willingness of teachers to work with students outside of regular class time. In order to tap this dimension, schools have used attitude surveys. Examples are provided in Chapter 2 of this report.
Teacher relationships have also been suggested as important climate variables. Rutter et al. (1979) and the PDK (1980) studies indicate that in effective schools teacher cooperation and concern is high. Similarly, Wynne (1980) found that positive school climate was associated with the amount of socialization among faculty.
It appears that in schools where staff appreciate one another, where they share, and plan together, then the payoff is a positive school climate. This attitude seems to carry over into their relationship with students.
Research appears to support the notion that the relationship of administrators with teachers is important in creating a climate for achievement. The New York State Study (1976) and the Ellet and Walberg (1979) study both found that administrator-teacher relationships were positively related to student achievement.
It should be noted that much of the literature talks about collaboration, group planning and shared decision-making as aspects of administrator-staff relationships. Good relationships also imply that there is consensus on school goals and student outcomes. These relationships focus on academic aspects, and not necessarily social relations.
Home-School Cooperation and Support
Rutter et al (1979) found that the extent to which school staff and parents work together to promote student learning is related to school effectiveness. The PDK (1980) study also reported that this variable relates to student achievement.
Murphy et al. (1985) believe that school-home relations are a function of four activities and processes:
Anderson (1982) in summarizing the literature on student morals concluded that as an aggregate characteristic, morale is related to both achievement and self-concept. Brookover et al. (1979) in their study reported a relationship between student academic self-concept and achievement. Others such as Licata et al. (1978) reported that student sense of alienation was related to climate.
Typically in any school one can get a sense of student morale through indicators such as self-concept scales and climate instruments, as well as through student behaviors such as cooperation, language usage, attendance, completion of work, and participation in school activities. Student morale also seems to be a function of student perceptions that teachers care (Brookover et al., 1979). Where teachers take a genuine interest in students as individuals, climate and academic performance appears to be better.
Peer norms have always been considered to influence learning outcomes. Parents have traditionally always held this belief. Brookover and Schneider (1975) found that if the student body values academic learning then the sense of "academic futility" was minimized. Brookover et al. (1979) and McDill and Rigsby (1973), on the other hand, contend that a sense of futility contributed the most variance in achievement. Coleman et al. (1966) study which subsequently led to the desegregation of American schools, showed that peer view of academics and aspirations greatly affected achievement and subsequent career plan. There is a large body of literature that deals with peer norms, which is beyond the realm of this review. Suffice it to say that peer pressure is extremely powerful in influencing student behavior. Consequently the need for ensuring that the peer norms and the school culture are compatible is of vital importance.
Principal involvement in instruction has been shown to be related to both climate and learning outcomes. Young (1980), in reviewing the literature in this area, concluded that this variable affected not only student achievement, but school climate as well.
It is particularly important that the principal signal to the teachers the need for effective instruction, and to the students the need to learn. A school focussed approach to instruction results in improved climate and student learning outcomes.
In that much of what an effective principal does has been covered under the attribute high expectations, it is not necessary to repeat the comments here.
The importance of the teacher in the classroom cannot be overemphasized. The effective teaching research (see for example, Berliner, 1984; Porter and Brophy, 1988) emphasizes the importance of the teacher in providing a climate conducive to learning.
The effective teacher is one whose classroom and curriculum is "managed" and all activities are purposeful and carried out in an orderly and "business-like" environment. There is evidence of short and long-term planning.
Teacher presentation skills show good structuring behaviors. Moreover, the curriculum and materials are appropriate to the students' ability levels, and emphasis is on mastery learning (Edmonds, 1979; Rutter et al., 1979; Berliner, 1984).
Effective teachers tend to utilize more interactive teaching or direct instruction. Emphasis is placed on high academic engaged time (both teachers and students). Mackenzie (1983) in summarizing the literature in this area states:
Moreover, the research literature shows that the effective teacher has a higher teacher-student interaction ratio compared to the ineffective teacher. The number of questions asked tends to be higher and a higher number of them tend to be directed questions (Berliner, 1984). The effective teacher not only engages more students in classroom instruction, but also tends to utilize a longer wait time that leads to longer and more accurate answers. Finally, Redfield and Rosseau (1981) found that the effective teacher tends to ask more higher-order questions which results in students who achieve considerably more.
I had purposefully left this variable to the last, although it should have been placed first. Our work with school improvement has led us to conclude that what happens in the classroom is an important first-step to establishing a climate conducive to learning. A good teacher can always overcome many other impediments to effective schooling. The teacher is also the first contact that the student has in a formal setting. Much of what happens there carries over to the rest of the school.
Ronald Edmonds was reputed to have stated that "he knew of a few bad schools with good principals, but he did not know of any good schools with bad principals". I would similarity like to state that I know no schools with a good climate where there were bad teachers, but I do know of schools with a good climate where there were good teachers. In essence what I am saying is that good teachers can overcome many obstacles in any school.
review of the research literature. Climate has been perceived as consisting of two dimensions: an academic climate and a social climate. Each of these in turn comprise a number of attributes which when taken together will result in a positive school climate.
The academic climate is a resultant of how the school uses rewards and praise, the effectiveness of the teachers and the principal, and the collaborative processes that exist within the school. The social climate, on the other hand, is a resultant of the appearance, comfort and orderliness of the school facility, the opportunities students have for participation in the school program, the peer norms that are prevalent and the nature of the administrative staff-student cohesion and support systems. Taken together, the dimensions and attributes contribute to a positive school climate.
In that school climate is an aspect of a school's culture the relationship between the two will be discussed next.
Although culture is not a new concept, it shifted to center stage in the 1980's due to a number of publications. The first of these -- William Ouchi's Theory Z was published in 1981 and espoused the commitment of Japanese workers to a Z culture. Theory Z argues that a worker's life is a whole, "not a Jekyll/Hyde personality, half machine from nine to five and half human in the hours preceding and following" (p.165). Theory Z seeks attention for worker participation in the decisions of the work place.
In 1982 a book by Peters and Waterman entitled In Search of Excellence, described eight characteristics of successful companies. A consistent theme cutting across the eight characteristics was the power of values and culture in these companies. The culture was reinforced through the stories, myths, legends and metaphors that diffused throughout the organization.
Another book that appeared on the bestsellers list in 1982 was Terrence Deal's and Allan Kennedy's Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life. This book helped to clarify what culture meant, namely, a system of shared values and beliefs that interact with an organization's people, structures and control systems to produce certain behavioral norms.
Owens (1987) argues that the lessons from business were not lost on educational administrators.
Robert Owen's (1987) contends that in education the term has enjoyed wide usage in the past, "but" the more inclusive term organizational culture is rapidly coming into use in the literature" (p.166). One therefore needs to ask whether these terms are similar or whether they mean different things.
Culture,. The literature is replete with definitions of culture, however, there is a high degree of agreement among writers and how it relates to and differs from climate. Schein (1985) defines culture as "... the solution to external and internal problems that has worked consistently for a group and that is therefore taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think about, and feel in relation to these problems" (pp. 19-20). Deal and Kennedy (1962) define culture as: "consist[ing] of patterns of thought, behavior, and artifacts that symbolize and give meaning to the workplace" (p.15). Similarly, Kilmann et al. (1985) define culture as "the shared philosophies, ideologies, values, assumptions, beliefs, expectations, attitudes and norms that knit a community together "(p.5). All, however, agree that these "interrelated psychological qualities" indicate the groups agree, implicitly on explicitly, on how problems are solved and decisions made. In everyday usage it is typically described as "the way things are done around here" or "what people believe does or does not work in their workplace".
Schein contends that these "solutions eventually come to be assumptions about the nature of reality, time, truth, space, human nature, human activity, and human relationships..." (p.19). They eventually become taken for granted and drop out of awareness. Because of the human need for consistency and order, the assumptions tend to form a pattern that is implicit, taken for granted, and unconscious. It is only through a process of inquiry that they are brought to the surface.
Kilmann et al. (1985) and Schein (1985) contend that culture not only manifests itself in behavioral norms, hidden assumptions and human nature, but that these occur at different levels of depth. Norms are just below the surface of experience; they have an "ought to" quality to them. As a rule they are transmitted from one person to another by stories, rites, rituals, and, particularly, sanctions that are applied when a norm is violated. Examples of norms are: don't disagree with the principal, do the minimum to get by, don't socialize with students, leave the school as soon as the last bell goes, go out of your way to help others, and work hard.
Norms may be negative or positive. In our attempts to improve schools, we often ask staff to assess and analyze their culture. In particular we focus on the norms that operate within the schools. We have found this to be an extremely useful activity to help the school staff understand its basis of operation. In many cases the staff are quick to suggest mechanisms for achieving higher performance and improved morale.
At somewhat deeper levels lie the hidden assumptions, according to Schein (1985). These are the fundamental beliefs behind all decisions and actions. Examples of assumptions might be that all kids are lazy and evil, what worked in the schools in the past is good enough for today, personal gain is more important than student gain and I am here basically to teach.
At the deepest level of culture, according to Schein (1985), is "the collective manifestation of human nature --- the collection of human dynamics, wants, motives and desires that make a group of people unique" (p.7). Because most organizations are a collectivity of individuals with unique wants and desires, understanding and changing culture can be difficult.
Deal (1985) contends that in order to understand the culture needs in a school one has to understand the symbolism that exists. These include the rituals, myths, traditions, rites, and informal network of players and language. It is through these mechanisms that human meanings and values are transmitted. Owen's (1987), for example, contends that the bell schedule is one of the many powerful cultural symbols that help to create climate in our schools.
Climate. In that climate has been previously defined, only a brief summary is necessary. Essentially climate is the perception that individuals have of various aspects of the internal environment of the school and that influences their behavior.
Climate is also closely associated with the notion of satisfaction (Owens, 1987). The determination of climate characteristics is usually elicited through the perceptions of respondents to a questionnaire.
Relationship of climate to culture. Owens (1987) states that "organizational climate is related to, and subsumed under, organizational culture inasmuch as the perceptions of individuals in the organization reflect the values and belief systems in the environment of the organization" (p. 169). He argues that one should not confuse climate with culture because the perceptions of participants reflects the culture of an organization in part, and thus may lead to wrongful conclusions.
Furthermore, Owens (1987) argues that "the culture of an organization exerts powerful influence on the development of climate. Kanter (1983, p. 149), for example, in her book The Change Masters, claims that high performing organizations have a culture of pride and a climate of success. She believes that the culture of pride is found in organizations that are integrative-those that emphasize wholeness. In contrast, less successful organizations were described as being segmented -- those emphasizing narrowness. Such organizations were characterized by a lack of pride and a climate lacking success.
If one were to summarize the difference between climate and culture, one would say that culture deals with "how the work of the schools get done?" whereas climate deals with the "feeling tone" of the internal environment of the school. Climate is the narrower concept based on peoples' beliefs and perceptions of the situation in which they find themselves.
Culture and Organization Development. The literature is replete with how culture is formed, and how it relates to organizational effectiveness. It is beyond the scope of this monograph to deal with such issues, suffice to it say that as organizations are born, grow, mature, and in some cases die, different organizational cultures manifest themselves. Moreover, depending on the size of the organization and the degree of departmentalization, multiple cultures may exist. (See for example Kilmann et al., 1985; Schein, 1985). Large secondary schools may, for example be characterized by multiple cultures whereas a small elementary school may have a single culture.
Any organization if it is to survive and grow in its external environment must have: (1) a sense of its own mission, a reason for its existence; (2) some concrete goals derived from the primary mission; (3) a mechanism for accomplishing these goals; (4) a mechanism for monitoring its progress; and (5) a means of correcting its problems if the goals are not being attained (Schein, 1985, P. 20).
Schein (1985, p. 20) goes on to argue that in order to function the
work group must have: (1) a common language and shared meanings; (2) some
way of defining its boundaries and selecting appropriate members; (3) some
means of handling interpersonal relationships, creating the climate of
the organization; (4) some way of allocating authority, power, status and
resources; (5) some criteria for dispensing rewards and punishment; and
(6) some way of coping with unmanageable, unpredictable and stressful events.
In summary, "the culture of the organization is the embodiment of solutions
to a wide range of problems". (Schein, p. 20). It is through the culture
that the work of the school either does or does not get done. And it is
in this sense that culture becomes a useful tool for a school to consider
as the basis of its operation.
This conceptualization of school climate, supported by recent research on school and teacher effects, departs substantially from earlier efforts that explained differences among schools in terms of socioeconomic status and home background variables. The convergence of interest in school climate by the quality of life and school and teacher effectiveness investigators has given strong impetus to the current thrust of climate research.
(2) the climate attributes are alterable (Moos, 1979; Brookover et al., 1978; Wynne, 1980);
(3)the perceptions of the participants in the school setting is the basis for change of the climate (Trickett, 1978; Fraser, 1981).
A further conclusion of this monograph is that the climate of a school is established by the principal and school staff and is, therefore, capable of change. If the staff can establish and change the climate in the school, then the level of achievement can also be changed.
Furthermore, the research has shown that climate can impact on student achievement. Positive learning environments and positive learning outcomes appear to go together (Haertel et al., 1981). In that regard a model of school climate improvement attributes was outlined. As such, the attributes can be used as the basis for climate improvement activities.
Finally, since climate deals more with the affective domain, it was argued that a shift should occur to the concept school culture. Climate is a subset of school culture. As such, culture would be a more useful construct for schools to assess. Various models of school effectiveness are based on the construct culture (e.g., Purkey & Smith, 1983).
However, that is not to say that climate diagnosing, monitoring, and improvement is not worthwhile. We know from research that climate is a determinant of student achievement and morale. Good climates equate with good schools. Therefore climate improvement is to be fostered and encouraged.
The next chapters attempt to provide mechanisms for assessing and improving climate. The final chapter presents current climate practices being pursued in Canadian schools.
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In Chapter 1 of the monograph it was indicated that school climate is the direct result of the norms, values and beliefs of the participants in the school environment as they interact with one another. It was also stated that openness, trust, respect, high morale, caring, warmth and cohesiveness characterize a positive climate. Furthermore, a positive climate contributes to satisfaction and increased achievement or productivity. Schools characterized by poor climate, on the other hand, were perceived as lacking openness, trust, warmth, respect and cohesiveness. Typically individuals working in a poor climate tend to be negative and dissatisfied with their work. Students generally do not achieve as well in schools with poor climate.
This section of the monograph provides, for those interested in climate improvement, some models and approaches that can be used. Some of the strategies are designed to assess the overall climate of the school, while others tend to deal with specific attributes that contribute to the overall climate. The kinds of activities suggested here are not meant to be exhaustive, but merely indicative of the kinds of efforts needed to improve the school's climate. Consequently, this section also includes sample instruments and processes. And finally, other available resource materials are indicated.
A five stage approach to climate improvement is suggested in the next section.
(1) sensing/initiating the program,
(2) diagnosing/assessing the problem,
(3) developing strategies to overcome the difficulty,
(4) implementing the solutions, and
(5) monitoring and evaluating the outcomes.
Stage 1 - Sensing and Initiating the Program
The first stage, sensing and initiating the program, begins when the principal or staff members realize that the climate in the school can be improved. The sensing may be based on hunches, intuition or indicators that the climate of the school is not as good as it should be. In other words, there is a gap between what is and what should be. Climate improvement can also arise because the participants genuinely feel that their school can be a better place within which to study and work.
A good starting point is the mission of the school. The mission statement provides an indication of the school's priorities and objectives. It is the glue that binds the group together and directs the "herd to move in a westerly direction". If a mission statement and workable objectives are not existent, then that should be the starting point.
During the initiating stage the participants need to ask questions such as:
What do we want to happen?
Awareness can come through discussion at staff meetings, reading of the literature, and through in-service activities.
During Stage I we plan for action, not reaction. Visible support from the principal is a necessary element. The planting of seeds is crucial. This is the stage for building commitment.
If the staff is large, a Planning Committee may be required to direct the improvement effort. With small staffs, fewer than fifteen teachers, the total staff can act as the Planning Team.
Stage 2 - Diagnosing/Assessing the Problems
All schools need a common basis for assessing the effectiveness of its operation. Generally this stage is referred to as the "Needs Assessment" phase.
Figure 2. The Planned Stages of Climate Improvement
Stage 3 - Developing Strategies to Overcome the Gaps
Develop solutions to problems.
Prioritize the solutions.
Decide on strategies.
Stage 4 - Implementing the Solutions
It is one thing to plan and schedule the activities for climate improvement, but it is quite another to adjust and modify the program as it is implemented. Needless to say, the plan never evolves exactly as intended. Human nature and human beings, being what they are, never act quite as expected. The key concept during implementation is flexibility. Adjustments may need to be made. Time lines may need to be readjusted.
The enjoyable part of this stage is seeing changes and improvements take hold. As early successes are won, confidence builds, and greater effort can be expected. Reinforcement of a job well done, is vital during the initial stages.
Our experience is that some schools are quick off the mark, while others are not. In some case what takes one school a few months to achieve, takes another a year to reach the same mark.
Patience, support, cajoling and feedback are important in this phase. Follow-up on the progress at regular schedules also ensures that something will be done.
Finally, depending on the complexity of the issues being faced, a long-time perspective is better than a short-time perspective. Climate improvement should not be viewed as a quick-fix approach.
Stage 5 - Monitoring/Evaluating the Outcomes
Usually this stage receives the least attention. The implementation has taken place, but no one checks to see if the solutions have made a difference.
It is suggested that during the implementation phase informal assessment should be the norm. Informal monitoring is useful for fine-tuning, sensing and preventing of major problems from occurring. At the same time, it alleviates the feeling that formal evaluation usually creates.
After a period of time, usually towards the end of the second or third year of implementation, a formal assessment should be conducted. Formal evaluation can be conducted by an internal or by an external team. In some instances a team consisting of insiders and outsiders, is preferred. At any rate, a formal assessment is required in order to determine whether the activity should be continued, discontinued, modified or new targets set.
As has been previously suggested, there are many vehicles by which a needs assessment can be conducted. In this section, the emphasis will be on group, consultative and collaborative processes. The group could simply consist of the principal and staff, or it could include student and parent representatives, custodians, secretaries, and bus drivers. Our approach is to involve as many stakeholders as possible. However, if the staff feels more comfortable in initiating the process on its own, then that is acceptable. However, as change awareness increases, involvement of other stakeholders should be seriously considered. The school effectiveness research (e.g., Rutter et al., 1979; Murphy et al., 1985), in particular, emphasizes the benefits of involving parents and students in school improvement efforts-in that it leads to improved school climate and increased student achievement.
The needs assessment can be conducted in a retreat (typically used in Australia) situation or at the school. Whatever the place, the facility should have a large, comfortable meeting room with smaller back-up rooms. There should be plenty of work activity materials such as butcher's paper, markers, masking tape, writing paper, pens, and naturally coffee, juice and cookies.
Organizers should ensure that there is ample time to address the topic "climate improvement". At least one day is required for conducting the assessment and another day for initial planning of solutions to problems.
The setting for the meeting should be a relaxed and comfortable place. There should be no disruptions to the group process (e.g., telephone calls, etc.).
What follows are some suggested group approaches to conducting a needs assessment. There are numerous techniques available, too numerous to outlines. Interested readers are asked to consult appropriate references for further information.
- There is no evaluation or debate or ideas until all ideas have been listed.
- It is permissible to "hitch-hike", combine or elaborate on others' ideas.
Although not really part of the rules of brainstorming, I like to "go around the table" as I jot down the ideas. The idea being to involve as many people as possible, and not have the process dominated by one or two individuals.
(2) Written ideas - Another way of getting people's ideas out in the open is to use a modified nominal group technique (NGT) approach. In this approach individuals jot down their ideas on small pieces of paper or file cards. The idea is to have all persons exhaust their ideas, a process that takes 7 - 10 minutes.
The recorder then goes around the table recording all ideas. Only one idea per person is asked for. The process is repeated until all ideas are exhausted.
(3) Modified Recording - A modified approach for obtaining all ideas is suggested by Marelle Harisun (1986, pp. 6-7). The ideas are generated similar to (#2) above, but the recording of ideas differs. Once the individual recording has been completed, groups of 4 - 6 people are formed. Groups display their cards and group them into piles in suitable categories. Each group then lists its ideas on a large piece of paper and displays the phrases or sentences to other group members. The group then discusses the common needs that appear to emerge from these lists.
Once the ideas have been generated, the group is ready to discuss the meaning and merits of the ideas. The exercise is concluded when the ideas have been prioritized.
Harisun (1986, pp. 7-8) suggests that a survey of opinions can be conducted without the use of questionnaires. These include:
(2) Interviews can be conducted with a small number of staff, students and/or parents. The comments of the individual should be recorded as close to his/her words as possible. In some cases it might be advisable to tape-record the interview. After the tapes have been transcribed, it is advisable to check the accuracy of the transcribing with the interviewee.
Additionally, semi-structured and structured interviews may be used. In the semi-structured situation interviews may be conducted with individuals and/or small groups, using a small number of questions. The structured interview may utilize a checklist in some instances.
M. Harisun (1986) suggests when the interviews and records of them are completed, it is advisable to type the ideas in a checklist form. This checklist can then be given to all individuals involved in the climate improvement program for their adjudication. The results can then be collated and distributed to everyone.
A process of identifying needs that I have found to be highly useful is the nominal group technique. The technique, first described by Delbecq and Van de Ven (1971), is a highly structured group process. (A complete description of the process is found in A. Delbecq and A. Van de Ven, "A Group Process Model for Problem Identification and Program Planning" Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 7(4) 1970. The process described herein is abbreviated and slightly modified.) The structured process consists of the following small group activities: (1) silent generation of ideas in writing, (2) round-robin listing of ideas on a flip chart, (3) serial discussion of ideas, (4) silent listing and ranking of priorities, (5) discussion of voting, and (6) re-ranking of priorities. After the group has assembled (we find groups of 712 people to be workable. Once the group gets beyond 15 people, the process becomes more difficult), the leader must establish rapport with the group. The leader is also charged with the responsibility of defining the task that all participants are asked to respond to in the meeting. Our experience suggests that the appropriate wording of the task statement is crucial in order to obtain the desired outcome. Prior to the meeting serious thought should be given to the question, "what information do I really want from the participants?" A lot of time, energy, and embarrassment can be saved with a little pre-planning.
The following steps comprise the NGT:
STEP 1 - Silent Generation of Ideas in Writing (7-12 minutes)
B. Leader Caveats:
1. Present the question to the group in written form.
2. Direct the group to write ideas in brief phrases or statements.3. Ask the group to be silent and work independently.4. Model good group behavior.
The second step of the NGT is to record the ideas of group members on a flip chart visible to the entire group. Round-robin recording means going around the room and asking for one idea from one member at a time.
A. Procedure: The leader writes the idea of a group member on the flip chart and proceeds to the next group member in turn. Ideas are listed until every member "passes". A member may pass on a particular turn, but can hitch-hike on other people's ideas.
B. Leader Caveats:
2. Avoid discussion of items, simply list the items on a flip-chart as rapidly as possible.
3. Make sure participants do not talk out of turn.
The third step of NGT is to discuss each idea in turn. The objective of the discussion is to clarify, not to win arguments.
2. Eliminate duplicates.
3. Do not collapse or condense categories.
4. When eliminating duplicates, if any member wishes to test the idea on its own, leave the item on the list.
The fourth step of the NGT is to prioritize the items on the list. Various approaches are available, however, we have found the one described below to be highly effective.
2. Each member is then asked to select seven ideas from those listed on the flip-chart as the most important climate needs and record one on each card. Each item should be numbered as on the list.
3. Request the participants to take the seven cards and rate them in order of importance. The card that contains the most important need will be indicated by placing a circled 7 on that card. The second most important need will be indicated by placing a circled 6 on it and so on down to placing a circled 1 on the least important need.
4. The leader then tabulates the value for each need on the flip-chart.
5. Rank-order the priorities. The highest total score will be ranked as 1. The next highest score will be ranked number 2 and so on.
6. The leader then tabulates the circled values for each idea on the flip-chart.
7. Rank order the totaled values.
The purpose of the discussion is to examine inconsistent voting patterns, and to provide the opportunity to discuss items which are perceived as receiving to few or too many votes.
3. Check to see if any other items should be included.
This vote combines individual judgements into a group decision.
2. Collect and tabulate the results.
The final stage determines the outcome of the meeting. It documents the group's judgement and brings closure to the proceedings. Where more than one group is used, the small groups should be brought back into one large group and the results shared. Each group leader should report on the results of his or her group.
Discuss the next steps in the process. This process (MGT) assumes that follow-up action will take place, especially on high priority items.
The Delphi Technique is a method for obtaining consensus without the participants ever getting together in a group situation. The advantages of this approach is that it allows for the whole staff to participate without being influenced by each other and without having to find a suitable time when all participants can meet.
The following steps have been modified from that outlined by Harisun (1986):
2. Upon receipt of the responses, collate the ideas, type the list, with boxes or spaces for participants to indicate an order of priority.
3. Distribute the list, and ask individuals to vote for their top a or la choices in order of priority.
4. Collate the results, reducing the list to those items receiving the top number of votes.
5. Make a new list and ask the participants to vote again for their top ;I or 5. choices.
6. Collate the results, and distribute the results or display them in the staff room.
Kilmann (1984) and Harisun (1986) suggest a modified Delphi as an additional needs assessment technique. The main difference is that this approach calls for a face to face meeting and the joining of groups in an attempt to develop consensus.
2. Individually participants write down their own needs list.
3. Working in groups of three, the participants share their list, and come to an agreement on a joint list.
4. Two groups of threes come together to share their list and again reach consensus on a joint list.
5. Repeat the cycle until all the groups come together.
6. The final list is recorded and displayed.
7. Follow-up on the issues raised must occur.
This technique is one that I owe credit to my graduate students in school improvement. I have used it to assess the state of a school's climate as well as to identify future areas of attention.
1. Each participant is given three different colored cards.
3. On the second card, each participant writes down three to five climate activities that have not been successful or "have not worked" in the past year.
5. Working in groups of three, members compare cards and develop comprehensive lists in the three categories.
6. Two groups of threes come together to share their lists and again
develop joint lists ("worked", "didn't work", "need further attention").
The final lists are recorded and displayed.
10. The priority list is reviewed and members are asked to choose the top 3 or 5 concerns requiring attention.
11. The final priority list is discussed and recorded.
In all instances, the model as outlined at the beginning of this chapter has been useful in improving the climate of schools. The importance of developing action plans and following through with implementation, once the assessment has been completed, is extremely important.
School climate instruments have focussed on the perceptions of various stakeholders. Some, for example, focus on the teacher-principal relationships, others focus on teacher-student relationships, and still others deal with the perceptions of various stakeholders such as students, teachers, principals, paraprofessionals, parents and community members.
In assessing the school climate, you need to consider a number of issues:
1. What information do you want to collect? You need to consider whether you want global climate indicators or aspects of climate such as student self-concept or student attitude towards school and homework.
2. How will you collect the data? You need to consider whether you will use an instrument, interview individuals, or collect data on existing artifacts. If you decide to use an instrument, review a number of instruments, and modify existing ones if necessary. You do not need to develop your own instrument, there are many around.
3. Who will you collect your data from? In other words, who are the stakeholders that you are interested in?
4. When will you collect your data? Should the data be collected
at the beginning of the year, half-way through, or at the end of the school
Once the decision has been made to collect the data with the use of an instrument or instruments, the respondents need to be informed. It is important to follow-through and share the results with the stakeholders.
I have a bias in the use of instruments. My feeling is that the school should conduct a climate mini-audit at least once every two years. In this regard the Edmonton Public Schools Attitude Survey is an extremely useful approach. It is reproduced with permission in this chapter.
Audits are useful in providing the school with feedback from the stakeholders. This information can then be used to develop school climate improvement plans.
In the following sections, a variety of instruments are provided. Some of these are self-assessment instruments. These can be used by a school staff to examine personal beliefs in regards to school norms. These can also be used to compare the group as a whole. Thus many of these instruments can be utilized in a variety of ways.
It is urged that the school develop a school profile. The profile would consist of information such as:
1. Student attendance
2. Test results
3. Vandalism costs
4. Teacher absences
5. Standardized test results
6. Reports on discipline cases.
7. The number and type of discipline cases.
8. Awards and recognition of staff and students.
9. Participation of students in school activities.
10. Copies of newsletters.
11. Survey results.
12. School yearly priorities.
13. List of school activities.
14. Action Plans.
A school profile allows the school to assess its progress over a period of time. It also provides the staff with the opportunity to see if its interventions have improved the school climate and student achievement.
Additionally, schools may wish to utilize a quasi-experimental research design. That is, schools would obtain baseline data utilizing quantitative and qualitative approaches prior to the commencement of any action plans or intervention strategies. Once the plan has been in operation for a period of time (e.g., one year) the same measures would be readministered. The schools could then assess to see if the interventions have made any difference. Such an approach ensures that more accurate information is available from which future decisions can be made. However, this approach ensures that reflective action will occur.
This brief checklist* will give you a quick snapshot of your school's climate. Rate each of the following items in accordance with the following code:
2 = disagree
3 = agree
4 = strongly agree
2. Vandalism is not a problem in our school.
3. Attendance is good in this school.
4. Student and staff morale is high.
5. Pupil achievement is high.
6. Pupils feel a sense of ownership and pride in this school.
7. People (staff and students) in our school trust one another, care about one another and respect one another a great deal.
8. Our school's various social groups respect one another and work together well for the benefit of the school.
9. Our students and staff frequently participate in problem-solving and school improvement activities.
10. Students and staff willingly participate in extra-curricular activities.
11. The threat level in our school is low (i.e. people are not afraid of being treated disrespectfully, becoming failures, or being physically harmed).
12. Staff members utilize a variety of instructional techniques so that students with varying learning styles (e.g., active, creative, visual) can benefit.
13. The staff is friendly and care about their students as individuals.
14. The school has a clearly stated mission that is known by all participants.
15. The parents are supportive of what the school is doing and willingly provide assistance when requested.
If your score is 45 or more, you perceive your school has a positive climate.
If you are a classroom teacher, this checklist was developed especially for you. Rate yourself on each of these items, using the following code:
2 = occasionally
3 = frequently
4 = almost always
2. I operate on the assumption that the student wants to do the right thing.
3. I use positive reinforcement instead of punishment.
4. I have a friendly relationship with my students.
5. I know my students and their parents as individuals.
2. My established routines for such activities as collecting materials and papers function smoothly.
3. I use preventive discipline - that is, I attempt to recognize and identify problems before they develop.
4. I regularly monitor my students' performance.
5. My classroom is friendly, but business-like (at least 70% is devoted to task-orientation).
1. I insist on all students maintaining high standards in their work and their behavior, but my standards are realistic for the age group.
2. I vary my instructional techniques so that students with varying learning styles (e.g., active, creative, visual) can benefit.
3. I individualize assignments (e.g., all students are not assigned the same tasks).
4. The work that I assign is perceived as useful and meaningful by my pupils.
5. I am well-prepared to teach my students.
*Adapted from Eugene Howard, Classroom Control Index, School Discipline Desk Book, 1978.
YES NO I'M NOT SURE
2. Are you learning a lot? J L K
3. Do you like your teacher? J L K
4. Are the people in the office nice?
5. Do you like your principal?
6. Do you feel the school rules are fair?
7. Are the children made to follow the rules?
8. Are the other children at school nice?
9. Do you have fun at recess?
10. Do you like your school building?
11. Do you like your school playground?
12. Does homework help you learn more?
13. Does your teacher give you help when you need it?
14. Do you like to use the library or learning resources centre in your school?
15. Is your school kept clean?
16. Do you like going to school?
* Reproduced with permission.
We would like to know how you feel about your school. If your answer to a question on this sheet is YES, make an X in the square under the word YES. Make an X under the word NO if your answer is NO. If you are not sure, make an X in the square under I'M NOT SURE.
YES NO I'M NOT SURE
2. Do you feel good about how much you are learning?
3. Do you like your teacher(s)?
4. Are the people in the office friendly and helpful?
5. Do you like the principal?
6. Do you feel the school rules are fair?
7. Are the children made to follow the rules?
8. Are the other children at school nice?
9. Do you have fun at recess?
10. Do you like your school building?
11. Do you like your school playground?
12. Does homework help you learn more?
13. Does your teacher(s) give you help when you need it?
14. Do you like using the library or learning resources centre in your school?
15. Is your school kept clean?
16. De you like going to school?
17. Are you satisfied with the number of children in your class(es)?
18. Do you find your school work interesting?
19. Do you feel your teacher(s) cares about you?
20. Do you feel that children who misbehave are dealt with properly?
21. Do you feel the marks you got are fair?
We would like to know how you feel about school. Please check the box which best describes your feelings about the following:
I'm Satisfied I'm Dissatisfied I'm Not Sure
1.The number of option courses open to you
2.The usefulness of your courses
3.The emphasis on basic skills (such as reading, writing, math)
4.Your homework assignments
5.How much you are learning
6.How your marks in the courses are determined
7.What the school tells your parents about how you are doind in school
9.Your assistant principal (answer only if there is one)
10.The office staff
13.High school and career planning assistance
14.The say that you have in school decisions that affect you
15.The way student discipline is handled
16.The behaviour of other students in class
17.The behaviour of other students out of class
18.School rules and regulations
19.The way other students treat you
20.How attendance problems are handled
21.The opportunity to get into the classes that you would like
23.The extracurricular program (sports, school plays, concerts, clubs, etc.)
24.The Students' Union or Council
25.The school buildings, grounds and equipment
26.The way you get to and from school
27.The interest that your teachers have in you
28.The amount of opportunity for experiencing success in your program
29.The number of pupils in your classes
30.The length of your class periods
31.The services of the school library or learning resources centre
32.The cleanliness of your school
33.Your school in general
34.The amount of information that you receive in the school about what you are expected to learn and how you are expected to behave
35.The amount of challenge provided for you by your school programs or courses
Is there anything else you would like us to communicate to the Board or Administration? PLEASE USE THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS QUESTIONNAIRE FOR YOUR COMMENTS
This instrument can be used with staff, students and parents.Please respond using the following rating scale:
.1. Students are enthusiastic about learning 1 2 3 4
in this school.
2. This school has good attendance, students only 1 2 3 4
stay away for good reasons.
3. Teachers treat students fairly. 1 2 3 4
4. Parents are considered to be important 1 2 3 4
contributors by this school.
5. I like this school. 1 2 3 4
6. I feel that my ideas are listened to in 1 2 3 4
7. The principal cares about students. 1 2 3 4
8. The school emphasizes the basic skills. 1 2 3 4
9. Teachers pay attention to students of all 1 2 3 4
10. Teachers use a wide range of teaching 1 2 3 4
materials and media.
11. Teachers use a variety of teaching styles. 1 2 3 4
12. Students willingly participate in 1 2 3 4
13. The school's program encourages students 1 2 3 4
to develop self-discipline and initiative.
14. Student discipline is handled well in this 1 2 3 4
15. Teachers are willing to provide help for 1 2 3 4
those students that need it.
16. School rules are few and simple, and 1 2 3 4
violators are treated fairly and consistently.
17. Students know the criteria used to evaluate 1 2 3 4
18. Problems in this school are recognized and 1 2 3 4
worked upon openly, they are not allowed to
19. This school has high expectations for student 1 2 3 4
20. This school is clean and well decorated. 1 2 3 4
Profiles can be prepared on the total scores and by items. Low item scores may require attention to the school's climate condition.
Adapted from James Slezak. Odyssey to Excellence. pp. 141-143.
We would like to know how you feel about your school. After each statement are some faces. Place a big X on the happy face if your answer is yes. Place a big X on the sad face if your answer is no. Place a big X on the puzzled face if you are not sure.
YES NO I'M NOT SURE
2. My teacher keeps me interested in my school work
3. My teacher is friendly
4. My teacher cares about my feelings
5. My teacher lets me know when if I am behaving right or wrong
6. My teacher helps me with my work when I need it
7. My class wishes they could have this teacher next year
8. I like my teacher
9. I enjoy school
10. This school is a good place to make friends...
13. I like my principal
14. The school rules are fair
15. The children are made to follow the rules
16. The other children at school are nice
17. I have fun at recess
18. I like our school building
19. I like our school playground
20. I like to use the library or learning resources centre in our school
21. My school is kept clean
22. My school is nicely decorated
23. The people in the office are nice
24. Homework helps me to learn more
25. My parents are interested in how I do at school
26. I like to do well in school
27. The teacher expects our work to be neat
28. My teacher knows what to do and how we are going to do it
29. I work or pay attention during a whole lesson
30. I like myself
We would like to know how you feel about your school and schooling. Please complete the questionnaire by checking the appropriate box in Parts A and B. in Part C you are asked to complete the statements to the questions posed.
2. Students get along well in this school
3. My teachers take a personal interest in me
4. My teachers enjoy teaching
5. I like my teachers
6. My teachers keep me interested in my school work
7. My teachers are available outside of class time to give extra help
8. My teachers know the subject matter
9. My teachers are enthusiastic about teaching
10. My teachers vary their approach in teaching the lessons
11. My teachers are in class on time
12. My teachers are prepared for class
13. My teachers return my assignments promptly
14. I find my classes interesting
15. Teachers expect my work to be done to the best of my abilities
16. I feel that the marks I get are fair
17. The school rules and regulations are fair
18. There is good school spirit
19. Students take care of school property
20. This school is a good place to make friends
21. I like to do well in school
22. My parents are interested in how I do at school
23. The people in the office are friendly and helpful
24. Students willingly participate in school activities
23. Discipline is handled in a firm and consistent manner
26. There is good teacher-student cooperation
27. I work or pay attention during a whole lesson.
Please indicate how satisfied you are with the following:
29. The emphasis an basic skills (such as reading, writing and math)
30. Your homework assignments
31. How much you are learning
32. What the school tells your parents about how you are doing at school
33. High school and career planning services
34. The say you have in school decisions that affect you
35. The way student discipline is handled
36. Your school principal
37. The opportunity to get into classes that you would like
38. How attendance problems are handled
39. The behavior of students in class
40. The behavior of students out of class
41. "he extracurricular program (sports, school plays, concerts, clubs, etc.)
42. Student Council
43. The school facility
44. The way you get to and from school
45. Your chances for succeeding in your classes
46. The length of your class periods
47. The services of the school library or learning resources center
48. The system of rewards available
49. Your school in general
50. Your satisfaction with your life
a) YES b) NO
If you answered NO, list the subjects you would like to have made available.
Why are these subjects your favorite?
b. The topics are interesting
c. They are easy
d. They are challenging
e. Other reason, please explain:
Why are these subjects your least favorite?
b. The topics are boring
c. They are too easy
d. They are too hard
e. Other reason, please explain:
b. Attend a technical-vocational institute or past-secondary school to learn a skill or trade
c. Attend a university
7. Indicate the amount of homework you do each weekday:
a. None b. Less than one-half hour c. Less than one hour d. One to two hours e. Two to three hours
f. More than three hours.
8. Name the things you like best about your school.
10. Name the things you would change in your school.
11. List the activities you participate in outside of the school.
12. List the activities you participate in inside of the school.
13. How much time (on the average) do you spend watching TV during weekdays?
14. Please list your hobbies:
15. Is there anything else you would like us to communicate to the Board or administration? Please make your comments on the space provided.
The Schools Problem Checklist is designed for the principal as a quick check on the existing school climate. If you check the first two columns with regularity, then you should study the problem in greater detail.
3. Student behavior
4. School spirit
5. Student dropout rate
6. Student absentee rate
7. Student attitude toward school
8. Student feelings about teachers
9. Student verbal/physical abuse
10. Student apathy toward school events
11. Students carrying weapons
12. Problems on playground/parking lot
13. Student harassment of local merchants
14. Student feelings that they are merely a number because of the size of the school
15. Crowded conditions
16. Weak student government
17. Incidences of suspensions
20. Theft of teacher/staff property
21. Theft of school property
22. Teacher/staff apathy
23. Teacher/staff cliques
24. Teacher/staff absentee rate
25. Unavailability of supplies/equipment
26. School image in the community
27. Negative newspaper articles about school
28. Number and kind of complaints from school neighbors
IF YOU THINK A STATEMENT IS TRUE FOR YOU OR DESCRIBES HOW YOU FEEL MOST OF THE TIME, CHECK THE TRUE SQUARE. IF YOU THINK A STATEMENT IS NOT TRUE FOR YOU OR DOES NOT DESCRIBE HOW YOU FEEL MOST OF THE TIME, CHECK THE NOT TRUE SQUARE.
THERE ARE NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWERS, ONLY YOU CAN TELL US HOW YOU FEEL.
Reproduced with permission, of North York Board of Education.
TRUE NOT TRUE
1. OTHER STUDENTS SEEM HAPPIER THAN I AM
2. PEOPLE BOSS ME AROUND TOO MUCH
3. I FIND IT HARD TO TALK IN FRONT OF THE CLASS
4. I HAVE ONLY A FEW FRIENDS IN SCHOOL
5. I AM GOOD IN MY SCHOOL WORK
6 MY CLASSMATES THINK I AM A GOOD STUDENT DA
7. MY TEACHERS MAKE ME FEEL I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH
8. MOST PEOPLE ARE BETTER LIKED THAN I AM
9. THERE ARE LOTS OF THINGS ABOUT MYSELF I'D CHANGE IF I COULD
10. BOTH BOYS AND GIRLS LIKE ME
11. I AM NOT DOING AS WELL IN SCHOOL AS I WOULD LIKE TO
12. I LIKE GOING TO SCHOOL A LOT
13. KIDS USUALLY FOLLOW MY IDEAS
14. SCHOOL WORK IS TOO HARD FOR ME
15. I OFTEN FEEL UPSET IN SCHOOL
16. I FORGET MOST OF WHAT I LEARN
17. SCHOOL WORK IS FAIRLY EASY FOR ME
18. IT TAKES ME A LONG TIME TO GET USED TO ANYTHING NEW.
19. I CAN GIVE A GOOD REPORT IN FRONT OF THE CLASS
20. TEACHERS EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM ME
21. THINGS USUALLY DON'T BOTHER ME
22. IT'S PRETTY TOUGH TO BE ME
23. I FIND IT HARD TO STICK TO ONE PROJECT FOR VERY LONG
24. I AM SLOW IN FINISHING MY SCHOOL WORK
25. SOMETIMES I WISH I COULD GO TO SOME OTHER SCHOOL
Self-Concept materials can be obtained from:
Educational Research and Evaluation Services
225-4661, Ext. 303,
5050 Yonge Street,
North York, Ontario
NAME: SCHOOL: TEACHER:
ON THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE A SERIES OF STATEMENTS PEOPLE SOMETIMES USE TO DESCRIBE THEMSELVES. PLEASE READ EACH STATEMENT CAREFULLY AND DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT IT IS TRUE FOR YOU.
IF YOU THINK A STATEMENT IS TRUE FOR YOU OR DESCRIBES HOW YOU FEEL MOST OF THE TIME, CHECK THE TRUE SQUARE. IF YOU THINK A STATEMENT IS NOT TRUE FOR YOU OR DOES NOT DESCRIBE HOW YOU FEEL MOST OF THE TIME, CHECK THE NOT TRUE SQUARE.
THERE ARE NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWERS, ONLY YOU CAN TELL US HOW YOU FEEL.
(c) Board of Education for the City of North York
Department of Educational Research and Evaluation Services
2. PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS TELLING ME WHAT TO DO
3. I FIND IT HARD TO TALK IN FRONT OF THE CLASS
4. MOST CHILDREN HAVE MORE FRIENDS THAN I DO
5. I AM VERY GOOD IN MY SCHOOL WORK
6. MY CLASSMATES THINK I AM A GOOD STUDENT
7. MY TEACHER DOESN'T THINK I AM VERY GOOD IN MY SCHOOL WORK
8. MOST PEOPLE ARE BETTER LIKED THAN I AM
9. THERE ARE LOTS OF THINGS ABOUT MYSELF I'D CHANGE IF I COULD
11. SCHOOL WORK IS FAIRLY EASY FOR ME
I AM NOT DOING AS WELL IN SCHOOL AS I WOULD LIKE TO
13. PEOPLE SEEM TO LIKE MY IDEAS
14. SCHOOL WORK IS FAIRLY DIFFICULT FOR ME
15. I GET UPSET EASILY IN SCHOOL
17. MOST PEOPLE SEEM TO LIKE ME
18. IT TAKES ME A LONG TIME TO GET USED TO ANYTHING NEW
19. 1 CAN GIVE A GOOD REPORT IN FRONT OF THE CLASS
20. TEACHERS ALWAYS WANT ME TO Do MORE THAN I CAN
21. I USUALLY DON'T WORRY ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS AT SCHOOL
22. IT'S PRETTY TOUGH TO BE ME
23. I FIND IT HARD TO STICK TO ONE PROJECT FOR VERY LONG
24. I AM SLOW IN FINISHING MY SCHOOL WORK
25. NO ONE PAYS MUCH ATTENTION TO ME
26. I OFTEN GET DISCOURAGED
27. IT IS HARD FOR ME TO MAKE FRIENDS
28. IT IS USUALLY MY FAULT WHEN SOMETHING GOES WRONG
29. I SEEM TO GET INTO TROUBLE AT SCHOOL
30. I LIKE ME THE WAY I AM
This chapter has outlined a model for assessing and modifying the school climate. A variety of assessment techniques and instruments were provided. It should be noted that there are other approaches available and interested readers are asked to consult appropriate sources.
The intention was to outline those techniques and instruments that we have found to be helpful. Users are asked to modify and adapt the techniques and instruments as necessary.
What is important for the school staff, is that the mechanisms used be compatible and useful. Every school needs to assess its learning climate from time to time.
Back to Table of Contents
The following summaries are representative, but certainly not inclusive, of the many examples of district and school level climate improvement projects submitted by school jurisdictions from across Canada. Many districts and schools forwarded information concerning projects very similar to those described. Of the districts and schools cited, many were involved in a number of projects; however, in order to reduce repetition, not all of these are included. Clearly, exciting, innovative climate improvement projects are occurring in all parts of the country; readers are encouraged to investigate initiatives in their locale.
Edmonton Catholic Schools have developed a set of questionnaires for use in determining perceptions of individual school climate from the perspectives of the school's teachers, administrators, support staff, review team personnel, students, and parents.
Edmonton Public Schools (EPS) has a variety of district initiatives designed to improve school climate.
EPS has developed a set of instruments for determining the perceptions of --he schools and the district of various stakeholders (students, teachers, principals, custodians and non-professional employees, parents, community at large). Sample questionnaires were included in Chapter 2. Data obtained (the surveys have been used for nine years), is shared with the schools and the community. A summary report is also published in the daily newspapers.
School Site Budgeting is designed to decentralize decision making to the school level in order to better meet the needs of students. The budget process makes pro-vision for staff, student, and parent involvement.
A teacher effectiveness program is now in its seventh year of operation. Fifteen full-time consultants work with principals and teachers in the improvement of instruction. The program utilizes a "coaching" model, and focuses on skills development.
Recognition of Achievement
The system recognizes the achievements of individuals at banquets and awards nights held on a yearly basis.
The communications department publishes a number of newsletters, brochures, and pamphlets. The Staff Bulletin, published every two weeks, has received national recognition. The Bulletin contains stories and pictures from throughout the district, and informs staffs of board decisions and policies. The Bullet-in also contains a section entitled "Schools Do Make a Difference" which highlights examples of excellence from particular district schools.
The Administrative Memo, published weekly, informs principals of district policies and priorities.
EPS publishes a yearly calendar of district sponsored workshops. In addition, a monthly update is published to inform staffs of new initiatives.
A school-based, school effectiveness program has been in operation since 1983.
The district focus is on excellence; many messages and images are created to foster this theme. All administrators are encouraged to create an institutional image of excellence.
The Surrey School District has developed and published a 108 page "Compilation Booklet" describing its program for training school improvement facilitators. Materials include the substance of workshops held in 1985 and 1986 for a total of 84 facilitators from school districts throughout B.C., plus ideas contributed by workshop participants. Topics covered include:
b. effectiveness compilation
c. identifying needs and creating the school development plan
d. creating high expectations
iii. firm leadership and teacher involvement in decision-making
iv. appearance and comfort of the school environment,
v. student participation
c. developing direct action statements
d. planning - preparation
f. needs assessment
A Framework for Progress
This document serves as a framework for planning for the next five years. More than one thousand staff and community members were involved in the process. The framework considers the Key Assumptions and presents an evaluation of the beliefs about the strengths and weaknesses. The second part, Strategic Issues and Directions addresses the ways in which the aims can be met. The document has been conceived as a flexible response to changes within a dynamic system. According to the director, "Rather than being the definitive look at our present and future, this framework has been designed to provide a context in which ongoing activities can complement one another and in which future initiatives can be welcomed."
Morale and Relations Committee
A Morale and Relations Committee was established to develop and implement procedures for improving and then maintaining morale; and to develop relationships among students, staff, trustees and administrators which will permit the system to achieve established goals.
Code of Behaviour
Every school was asked to establish a Code of Behavior Manual for Students. Every student and parent was informed of the codes developed.
Survey of Quality of School Life
Quality of School Life Surveys are conducted periodically in all schools. At the Senior high level, information is collected on, school and education in general, aspirations, teaching, student rights and responsibilities, curriculum, standards and evaluation, and discipline and attendance.
Self-Concept InventoryThe district has developed self-esteem scales. These have been normed for the various division levels and are administered on a regular basis. Since 1985, self-concept activities for the classroom teacher have been developed and piloted. Two documents, Who Am I (elementary) and Who Am I (junior high/middle school), describing self-concept activities, have been made available and are used by teachers to enhance student self-concept.
Quality Assurance Committee (QAS)
The QAS developed a procedure for a systematic review of the schools to ensure that the quality of school life and achievement is maintained and enhanced. A team, which meets with teachers, parents, support staff and students, visits the school for up to a week, studies the entire learning environment, and assesses the school:
The Communication Branch produces a variety of publications including, "News Update", "Good News Report", and "Board's Eye View". The Branch also produces pamphlets and school maps. All the above are designed to keep stakeholders updated as to activities, achievements, and developments in the Division.
The Niagara South Board of Education have developed and published A Plan for School Improvement - The Team Approach. A separate document provides an example of the application of the program. The process describes the following steps:
b. characteristics of the school community
c. identification of specific strengths and problem areas
d. Superintendent input
b. data gathered in the assessment
4. Development of a School Improvement Plan - Development of a multi-year plan for appropriate problem-solving strategies to address needs and overcome obstacles. The following are considered as the major factors influencing achievement:
b. teaching and learning
d. organizational climate
6. Review of School Improvement - Summative evaluation phase, assessing successes and areas still requiring attention.
Saanich School District has developed and produced a selection of community awareness materials. These materials evidence excellent layout and are typeset (not the usual typed and photocopied format); the overall impression created by this high quality is one of professionalism and competence. The District logo and motto "Saanich Schools: Great Places to Learn," is prominently featured on all publications. These materials include the following:
Saanich Schools News
A newsletter outlining district policy, goals and plans, and featuring achievements of students and staff.
A variety of brochures have been prepared. Some promote activities such as workshops for parents and professional development workshops for teachers, others provide information on such subjects as; the arts in the schools, the District scholarship fund, District middle-schools, enrichment programs, and the District internship program. Separate brochures promoting each school in the District have also been prepared.
The District offers an impressive series of Pro-D workshops. These range from half-day workshops on such subjects as "How to Improve the Instrumentation of Your Band," and "Science Without Stress, Planning for a Great Year in Science," to full-day "Mini-Conferences" on "Visual Arts" and "Drama", to a week-long series of workshops on "Computers."
The District offers evening workshops for parents. The following topics were covered during one two-month period:
2. Adolescence - Is that Really the Way We Were?
3. Reading: A Family Affair
4. A Day in the Life of a Kindergarten Child
5. Understanding Your Child's Learning Style
The District has produced Sharing Discoveries, a videotape promoting the philosophy and achievements of the District's school improvement projects. The specific goals and successes of each school are highlighted.
A school/team/staff/student/parent "Success" referral may be submitted, on a form provided, to the District office. District staff take appropriate action to ensure that the "Success" receives due recognition. For example, top graduates may find themselves featured in a large newspaper advertisement, complete with biography, statements of praise from their teachers, a listing of activities and achievements, and a description of their future plans.
Red Deer Public has developed and published a booklet on school review and evaluation containing information on the following:
2. School Reviews and Evaluation Policy - Aims, Components, Guidelines and Procedures
3. Supervision and Evaluation Policy - Aims, Requirements, Performance Criteria, Process, Documentation, and Personnel Involved
4. Personal Administrative Review Form
6. Administrative Evaluation - Group Interview with Staff
7. Principal Evaluation - Individual Teacher Interview Form
8. School Climate Profile - Questionnaire for teachers, Administrators, Review Team, and Support Staff
9. School Climate Profile - Student Interview Questionnaire
10. Elementary School Program Assessment: Parent Questionnaire
11. "School Reviews" - an article summarizing a District workshop on School Evaluation
Describes the roles and responsibilities of each of the following, as stated in District Policy:
2. Deputy Superintendent
3. Assistant Superintendent - Personnel and Administration
4. Program Coordinators
Detailed examples of recommendations for an elementary school, a junior high, and a senior high are included. Recommendations are of three types:
2. Consideration Recommendations - those things which could be addressed by some staff members. The decision whether to implement this type of recommendation is left to staff.
3. Problem Areas - things that must be addressed immediately
Prince Albert School Division has developed a "peer counseling program using Grades 7, 8, and 9 students. They report improved student - teacher and support staff relationships as a result. They have been impressed by the maturity and understanding exhibited by peer counselors.
Family Service Team
The Division's Family Service Team help parents locate required resources and services, provides liaison among students, staff, and parents, and generally works to improve communication among the Division's publics. Feedback has been very positive.
The following initiatives have been taken by the Division in order to improve communication among its publics:
A display made up of student work, a pictorial display of programs, student and staff awards, and a slide presentation is exhibited at each "town fair" in the Division.
Board/Community and Board/Staff Coffee Parties
Division priorities for the upcoming school year are shared with the public at coffee parties held at each Division school. The Board and Superintendent also hold similar meetings with each school staff.
Parent Advisory Councils
Parent Advisory Councils have been established at all District Schools.
The Division opens the school year with a pancake breakfast for all staff members and their families. The Superintendent's Office and the Trustees sponsor the event.
Staff Award Night
An annual staff awards night honours long-term employees of the division.
The Division is conducting an annual attitude survey involving each of its publics.
The Division, with assistance from the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, is conducting a system-wide goals study.
The Halton Board established its Effective Schools Task Force in May of 1986. This group spent one year defining a "Future State" and developing a comprehensive and detailed five-year plan to achieve this ideal. As the mission, goals and objectives of each stage of this plan are clearly stated, and desired outcomes have been explicitly defined, the relative success of the program will be behaviorally verifiable. This planning process may be a valuable model for other districts wishing to implement system-wide school improvement projects.
Each Superintendent of Schools was given $3COO to encourage school-based improvement projects; nineteen possible improvement projects were offered as examples for consideration.
School Effectiveness leader
The Saskatoon Board of Education has employed a full-time "School Effectiveness Leader," to facilitate and coordinate its ongoing school effectiveness inservice programs and school improvement projects. Programs and projects underway include the following:
The Board's Effectiveness Leader, using the Provincial "School Effectiveness Model," works with individual staffs to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the particular school and to develop "Action Committees" and "Action Plans" designed to assist in eliminating the perceived needs (weaknesses) of the school.
A series of school effectiveness/caring climate workshops is offered for in-school administrators.
Non-Instructional Time (NIT)
Middle years students are provided with non-instructional time during school hours in order to promote the development of personal, social, physical, and academic interests. This may involve a quiet room in which to do homework, a room set aside for socializing, or supervision of an area for physical activities. This program allows middle years students to accept a degree of personal responsibility for them in school time.
Primary students are matched with an older (Grade 4-8) "Care Partner," who acts as a knowledgeable friend, and occasionally as a tutor. Care Partners meet formally once a week to share social and academic activities; informally, the "senior" care partner often takes on the role of a protective older brother or sister during playground activities.
School newsletters often promote community as well as school events, and are used as opportunities to "brag" about the achievements of the students and the school.
The system offers a workshop (either half-day or full-day) promoting Purkey and Novak's concept of "Invitational Education."
The Calgary RCSS District publishes a comprehensive newsletter, in periodical format, seven times yearly (circulation 28,000). The newsletter includes; a message from the Superintendent, feature articles on school construction and improvements, school and student achievements and activities, and District news. This publication represents an excellent example of a comprehensive communications effort on the part of a school district.
The St.James-Assiniboia School Division has developed and produced a selection of community awareness materials. These materials evidence excellent layout and are typeset (not the usual typed and photocopied format); the overall impression created by this high quality is one of professionalism and competence. The District logo and motto "St.James-Assiniboia: Great Schools for Growing and Learning," is prominently featured on all publications. These materials include the following:
Contact: News from the St.James-Assiniboia School Division A newsletter, in tabloid newspaper format, outlining district policy, goals, and plans, and featuring achievements of students and staff. Contact is published five times each year and distributed to all residents of St.James-Assiniboia.
A variety of brochures have been prepared which provide information on, and promote, District programs; these include:
"St.James-Assiniboia: Great Schools for Growing and Learning" (a promotional brochure for the District as a whole]
"C.L.A.S.S. - Contingencies for Learning Academic and Social Skills . . . A Guide for Parents"
"About-- the 04 Program . . . A Guide for Parents" (a program with vocational orientation]
"About St.James-Assiniboia Resource Program for Hearing Impaired Students . . . A Guide for Parents"
"Special Needs Programs at Strathmillan School"
"The Learning Centre" [assistance for students with severe academic difficulties]
"Educational Support Services: Clinical Se--vices in St.James-Assiniboia"
"About St.James-Assiniboia School Division's Developmental Education Program . . . A Guide for Parents"
"About Language Development in the St.James-Assiniboia School Division . . . A Guide for Parents"
"Silver Heights Collegiate: The International Baccalaureate Program"
"French Language Instruction in the St.James-Assiniboia School Division No. 211
"'So you're going to kindergarten...' a Handbook for Parents of Kindergarten Children"
"Resource Programs for Students in St.James-Assiniboia: A Cooperative Venture"
The Division has produced colourful Bumperstickers displaying the Division's Logo and Motto, "St.James-Assiniboia School Division:'Great Schools for Growing and Learning."'
Prince George School District has developed and published School Growth Planning: A Process Handbook for Schools
While this document was prepared for use within the Prince George District, it contains information which would '@-e of value to any school jurisdiction planning school effectiveness/climate projects. Materials which may '--e of interest include:
2. A description of three sample processes for planning growth objectives, all of which include the active involvement of school staffs.
3. Sample planning processes, including the development of objectives and action statements, for each of the following components;
b. positive climate
c. high expectations
d. recognition of achievement
e. quality instruction
f. quality curriculum and programs
g. supportive organization and management
h. assessment and revision
i. supportive community
Many students are from isolated areas; few have pre-school experience
Bowser Buddies - Peer tutoring in a wide range of subject areas, and specifically for oral reading, editing, and proofreading. Each student has a peer with whom to share writing, reading, and other activities and problems.
Student/Teachers - Parents are invited to the school and taught to use a computer program by their child.
Community Involvement - Major themes are used within classrooms and throughout the school (harvest, healthy heart, circus, etc.), culminating in a community/school event. All major events are jointly planned by parents and teachers.
Computer Licence - Students who demonstrate competence in using the school's computers are granted a computer licence which permits them to use the computers during free time.
Characteristics: K - 12, 198 students
Students of the Week Newspaper Article, - Student achievements (academic, athletic, artistic, citizenship, etc.), are recognized in the community newspaper. A deliberate attempt is made to include every student once during each year. weekly articles are cut out, laminated and displayed on a large poster in the school trophy case. Yearly posters are displayed in a school hallway.
Wall of Fame - A permanent display of outstanding student achievements (pictures and a description of the accomplishment are included).
Happy Grams - Teachers recognize improvements and accomplishments with brief "telegrams" given directly to the student, placed in a book, taped to a coat, etc.
Peer Tutoring - Time is scheduled for grade 6 and 7 students to work with students in kindergarten and grade 1.
Parent Volunteers - Parents construct individualized learning materials and work as aides with small groups of students.
Academic Awards - Awards in the form of rosette ribbons and certificates are awarded for academic achievement and individual effort.
Characteristics: K - 750% English, 50% French ImmersionThree "special needs" classrooms
Theme Days - Western Day, Wear Red if You Dare Day, Hat Day, etc..
Concerts - Christmas, Mime & Dance, Spring
Cleanest Classroom Contest - Each week an additional 15 minutes of recess is given to the students/teacher with the cleanest classroom.
Citizen of the Week - Photos of students chosen from each grade area are displayed in the hallway.
School Spirit - School assemblies, concerts, T-shirts, etc.
Characteristics: Junior High
Litter Control Program - Each day a different staff member assumes responsibility for the cleanliness of the school and grounds (this usually amounts to about one day a month per teacher). In addition, two or three students are allowed cut of each class for 5 - 10 minutes to pick up garbage each day. Result = an infinitely cleaner school.
Murals Program - With the assistance of the art department, twenty 100 sq.ft. murals have been placed in the school. None have been tampered with or defaced.
Student of the Week Award - Student achievements (academic and otherwise) are recognized weekly. The names of those so honored are announced and the students are presented with a certificate by the principal. Copies of the certificates are displayed on a special bulletin board in the main entrance foyer.
Student Council Room - Student council members are given keys to a private Student Council Room. This has assisted in motivating hard work and commitment on the part of council members.
School Spirit - Whole school assemblies are held once a month in a local theater. School activities are "showcased" at these assemblies.
Late Program - Students who are chronically tardy are denied access to regular classes (a form of in school suspension).
Characteristics: Senior High, gr. 10 - 12
All girl student population of 1070 Students from all parts of the city attend
Pre-registration Inservice Day - Students interested in attending Holy Heart are invited, in groups of 50, to spend a day in the school while regular classes are in progress. The principal meets with each group and explains school philosophy, expectations, policies, rules, courses, registration procedures, etc. Students in attendance take prospective students on tours of the facilities.
Welcome Party - Each September an afternoon is devoted to welcoming new students (approximately 350 per year), to the school. Students are encouraged to get to know one another and make new friends. A lunch is provided for the group.
Award Day - In October a student assembly is held at which awards are presented for academic achievements and perfect attendance during the previous school year.
Christmas Assembly - A student planned variety show. Students and teachers present humourous skits concerning teachers, TV stars, the boys in the neighboring school, etc.
Year-end Assembly - A student-planned assembly at which academic, participation and athletic awards, special medals and trophies are presented. Awards include "Student of the Year," "Senior Athlete of the Year," and "Junior Athlete of the Year." Students also present gifts and awards thanking teachers and student council members.
Interclass Activities - Interclass activities are sponsored during the noonhour; points are awarded on participation (including teachers). Towards year-end an afternoon is devoted to interclass competition in "fun" activities. A "Most Spirited Class" award is presented to the winning class, based on total points earned.
Jeopardy - A jeopardy contest, open to all students, is held during noonhours. Top students compete in a "Tournament of Champions". The winner is presented with a $50 prize.
Students' Retreats - Students from each class who wish to participate are excused from classes to attend a "Retreat Day" run by a "Pastoral Team" of teachers, university students, and senior students. Retreats are held outside the school and focus on a particular theme such as "You are Gifted."
Teachers' Pastoral Team - A teacher self-improvement support group which provides "Reflection Programs" for social occasions, support for individual teachers, and plans teacher social events such as a pizza party, a pot-luck dinner and dance, staff breakfasts and lunches during exams, and special "Surprise Parties" when morale and energy are low.
Staff Relationships and School Climate Day - An inservice day focusing on positive/negative aspects of the school environment, personal contribution to school climate, identification of areas needing attention, and positive approaches to areas of immediate concern.
Communications Lab - Selected students (usually in groups of 24), are invited to attend this one-day, out of school program. Students and selected staff participate in a number of communications exercises intended to improve communications skills, increase self-understanding and understanding of others. The lab also provides an opportunity for students to interact with staff members on an informal, friendly basis. Students learn to become more effective listeners, understand non-verbal communication, recognize their own and other's strengths, and build self-confidence.
Characteristics: Primary, junior and intermediate levels
The following are part of an overall program intended to improve school-community communication, and school climate.
Reporters Club - A school club provides the local newspaper with weekly articles highlighting student and staff achievements, and describing school programs. Students also prepare broadcasts of school events for a local television station.
Adopt-a-Gram Program - Grade 5 students are paired with foster grandparents from a local home for the aged. Once a month they exchange visits, time and talents; this shared experience has had far reaching implications.
Student-"Teachers" - Grade 7 and 8 students visit two local day-care centers once a week to read to younger students. Students are keen to participate, and accept responsibility making up any classes missed.
Choirs - School choirs participate in community service club ventures and perform in community services (i.e. Remembrance Day).
School Motto and Logo - A contest was held to produce a new school motto and logo which would reflect positively on the school. The winning motto was "Hillcrest: The School That Cares."
Coffee with the Principal - Parents meet informally with the principal once a month to discuss educational trends, school programs, and school related problems.
Characteristics: Primary to Gr. 9
Positive Referral Program: Students - Students exhibiting exemplary behaviors may be referred to the office, using a form provided. The Principal- or Assistant Principal discusses the referral with --he student, and, if applicable, phones or writes the student's parents to inform them of the schools awareness of the student's contribution to the school.
Positive Referral Program: Staff. - A positive staff referral may be submitted, on a form provided, by a colleague noting special efforts on the part of a fellow staff member. The Principal responds to such referrals personally.
Home Room Program - The "Homeroom Program" is based on the philosophy that guidance is a responsibility of all staff members. Combined grade homerooms (grades 7, 8, and 9, maximum 24 students) meet for morning registration and for a twenty-minute homeroom period before the noon break. While the homeroom period is used --For day-to-day "housekeeping" (announcements, report cards, etc.), the period is provided primarily for informal teacher/student interaction and for planned discussions and activities on such topics as self-concept, positive social interaction, school pride, study habits, problem solving, decision making, shared responsibility, leadership, and improving school performance. Student input is an important factor in determining discussion topics and activities. The teacher acts as an advocate for each of his or her homeroom students.
Characteristics: 650 students, Gr. 10 to 12
Advisor Program - All students belong to an advisor group (maximum 20 students), which is headed by a particular teacher or staff member throughout their high school career. The purpose of the program is to provide support and positive reinforcement for students. Students from different grades are mixed in these groups giving younger students a feeling of security and older students experience in a leadership role. These groups are also responsible for organizing most of the school's special events, including parent interviews. Advisor classes, which are held daily, include planned discussions and activities on such topics as time management, values clarification, career development, interpersonal skills, wellness, self-esteem and self-concept, school pride, study habits, problem solving, decision making, shared responsibility, leadership, and improving school performance. Student input is an important factor in determining discussion topics and activities. The teacher acts as an advocate for each of his or her "advises'' students.
Positive Referral Program: Students - Students exhibiting exemplary behaviors may be referred to the office, using a form provided. The Principal or Assistant Principal discusses the referral with the student, and, if applicable, phones or writes the student's parents to inform them of the schools awareness of the student's contribution to the school.
Study Skills Handbook - Students receive a handbook which contains self-test questionnaires and suggestions on organization, concentration, preparing for exams, task analysis and time management, reading strategies, using textbooks effectively, and note-taking.
Theme of the Month - Each month of the school year has a theme appropriate to activities going on in the school. For example:
September - "Getting to know each other and the school"
October - "Non-verbal communication"November - "Career interests"December - "Social action and community action"
January - "Study skills"
February - "The art of human relations"
March - "Looking after ourselves"
April - "Internationalism"
May - "Drinking and driving"
June - "Farewell"
Characteristics: Senior High, approximately 550 students
Evaluation Report - The Lethbridge School District No. 51 has published 38 page evaluation report on Winston Churchill High School which could serve as an example for other schools or districts planning similar studies. The document includes the following items which may be of interest:
2. An overview of results of;
b. academic/vocational program reviews conducted
c. student services program reviews; ESL, Individual Enrichment, Advisory System and Counselling, and the Habilitation and Education Program
d. non-curricular program reviews; administrative services, secretarial services, and learning centre aide services
e. co-curricular activities and student council reviews
f. budget and financial control reviews
g. caretaking review
h. school safety review
i. cafeteria program review
3. Review of the schools internship support program
4. Review of the physical facility and plant operation
Characteristics: Catholic Senior High
Sister McGuigan has had an Effective Schools Committee in operation since September, 1985. This committee, in conjunction with the staff, identified "Improvement of Academic Performance" as a major concern in the school. The following programs were developed to improve student performance.
Differentiated Learning - Two staff in-services were held to develop practical changes which could be implemented. Staff consensus was reached in four areas:
2. creative timetabling to accommodate student choices in course selection
3. reorganization of the exist4lng learning assistance program
4. reorganization of time allocation, personnel, and physical resources
During the final two weeks of the semester, the school was opened in the evenings in order to provide students with access to labs and the Resource Center, and a quiet place to study. Four or 5 teachers were on hand each night to supervise, assist, and tutor students. An evening workshop entitled "How to Help Your Son/Daughter Do Better in School What Are Study Skills," was held for parents during this period.
School-Wide, Non-judgmental Discipline Program - Newcombville Elementary instituted a school-wide, nonjudgmental discipline system (developed by Dr. F. Kuzsman at St. Francis Xavier University), after many other methods of dealing with the more serious discipline problems in the school failed to produce the desired results. The system is designed to deal with serious discipline problems without interrupting classroom instruction, rewarding the disruptive student with teacher or class attention, or harming the student's self-esteem. The program includes student and parent/community involvement, and is designed to enable disruptive students to develop acceptable behaviors. Schools wishing to implement a similar program should arrange for inservice training by qualified personnel.
A climate study of R. D. Parker was conducted in May of 1984, using the Teacher, Parent, and Student Opinion inventories from the "National Study of School Evaluation." Results were compiled and analyzed during the 1984-85 school year; a "School Climate Evaluation Inservice" was held in June of 1985. Three areas were identified as focal points for improvement; a) developing improved school spirit, b) improving communication with parents; and c) increasing emphasis on academic achievement in each school- course. The following action plans were implemented:
Public Relations - The public relations function of the school was decentralized. Information on school- activities and achievements is provided to a District bulletin, "Tales to Tell," and to the local newspaper, radio and television stations. A new "Media and Communications" program is being introduced in 1987-88. One of the objectives of this course will be the production of public relations tapes for the community television channel.
Expectations for Academic Achievement - A number of efforts were made to establish higher academic expectations; these included:
2. Establishment of a subcommittee with a mandate to develop a program development/evaluation model for RDPC.
3. Revamping of the advanced mathematics program (Grades 9 12), providing a clear statement of learning outcomes.
4. Introduction of formal term-end examinations (worth 20% to 25% of the final mark) in all Grade 10 - 12 courses.
5. Formalization of evaluation criteria in all courses.
6. Establishment of common departmental examinations in English 300; Mathematics 300, 200, and 100; History 200; and Typing 102 and 202.
7. Establishment of an advanced French program, Grades 9 - 12.
2. To implement consistent standards within each subject department and program
3. To require a higher standard of written work from students in all courses
2. To insist on punctuality
3. To reduce opportunity for undesirable behavior
4. To apply clear, firm sanctions, in accordance with policies and regulations, for undesirable behavior
2. To improve communication between counselors and teachers
2. To enhance the role of the department head in the instructional process, using Long's "Improving School and Classroom Effectiveness"
2. To provide a variety of extra-curricular activities through the house system and student council
3. To foster and encourage a continuing sense of pride in the school
2. To increase frequency of communication regarding progress and attendance
3. To improve contact with the community through a pro-active public relations program
Characteristics: ECS to Gr. 6 - 483 students
"Stars of Crestwood" - Cut-out stars are suspended from the ceiling in the building foyer. Each student in the school has his or her picture on one of the stars, which are arranged by class.
Staffroom - Crestwood redecorated and refurnished its staffroom, including the addition of pictures, posters and plants. They report that this has had a very positive effect on staff morale.
Plants in the School - Plants have been placed in various locations throughout the school, adding a "natural" sense of warmth.
Cleanliness and Appearance - While the school had always been clean, there was a perception that it lacked an extra sense of "lustre". In cooperation with custodial staff, a constant emphasis is now placed on keeping the entire school, including washrooms, "sparkling and shiny."
Bulletin Boards for Student Work - Extra bulletin boardsdisplaying student work were added so that one cannot avoid becoming "immersed" in the displays when walking down the halls.
Photographs of School Activities,- The school purchased 3 cameras, and solicited a $300 donation from its parent council, in order to take and display photographs of student activities in classrooms and hallways.
Honor Roll - A school Honor Roll has been placed in the school foyer, in conjunction with the school Logo and Motto, "Pride in Achievement."
Special Days - One day each month is a special theme-day (e.g., stuffed-animal day, red day, jeans day, punk day, hat day, kite day, what I don't want to be day, etc.).
Christmas Door Decorating - All classroom doors are decorated, by students, in a Christmas theme.
Special Student Presentations - Once a week a student or class "broadcasts" a special presentation on the school's PA system. Stories, poems, songs, etc. are featured.
Birthday Announcements - Teachers are responsible for ensuring that student birthdays are entered in the daily announcements.
Student Awards and certificates - Student achievements are recognized through; win-it stickers, the honor roll, year-end achievement medallions, and Crestwood Merit Certificates.
Intramural Program - Activities in the school gym are planned for students who arrive early in the morning., at all recess times, noon-hour, and after school.
Student Talent Day - A special assembly is held at which students "show-off" their special talents.
"My School Night" - An informal evening is organized so that students can introduce their parents to their school.
Bouquets Given at Staff Meetings - Staff members' contributions to students and the school are always recognized at staff meetings, by administration and other staff.
Golden Apple Award - A golden apple is passed from one staff member to another at staff meetings. The last recipient chooses who will receive the apple based on actions the presenting teacher has observed and appreciated.
Interclassroom Visitation and Cooperative Planning Inservice and professional development time is allocated so that teachers can visit other classrooms, and plan together, "on company time."
Staff Control of Contingency Funds - Each teacher has a $150 fund to spend on miscellaneous items he or she believes would be useful in his or her classroom. The custodian also has a cash float for purchasing small items.
2. Parent sponsored bingos as a major fund-raising activity
3. Parent/student activities organized for each classroom
4. Parent volunteer program; 35 parents are actively involved
5. "Revised Crestwood Notes," the school's information bulletin, goes home monthly
6. School logo was redesigned, school letterhead, featuring the school logo and motto, was introduced; school t shirts and sweatshirts were made available
7. Staff meets for "curriculum study" each Friday after school
8. Staff provide lunch for staff meetings
9. Professional and non-professional staff attend all staff meetings
10. Teachers' keys provide access to almost all areas of the school
12. Parent Council sponsors student activities - $2/student
13. An expanded and improved school-opening handbook has been produced
Involved Parents Committee - Landsdowne has a very active parents group which coordinates Friday lunches, carries out fund-raising activities, and provides a communications link with the community.
Open Communication - Regular staff meetings, an open door policy, and "coffee klatches" for parents maintain a free flow of information.
Rules - staff, students, and parents are invited to discuss, question, and suggest different approaches to school rules.
School Letter Program - parents and staff have initiated a school letter program which recognizes achievements in academics, athletics, and the arts; the aim is to encourage students to become well-rounded individuals.
Characteristics: a significant Native population
Display of Students Work - Forest Central has a display of student work titled the "Forest Central Gallery of Originals."
Recognition of Student Achievement - Well Done Certificates, important person stickers, and warm fuzzies are given to students for work well done or good behavior.
Birthday Greeting - The principal personally delivers a birthday card to each student on his or her birthday. Cards are mailed to students whose birthdays occur during holidays.
Positive Referrals - Students are sent to the Principal's office to read, or display good work.
Newsletters - Newsletters, containing information about school/student events, activities and achievements are sent home about every two weeks.
Native Awareness - Native awareness days, and native arts and crafts are promoted as a part of the school program. The school maintains a collection of native art. The school also employs a native education worker.
Hobby Fair - Errol sponsors a hobby fair at which students and parents display and demonstrate their hobbies, craft activities, and special talents. The fair is open to the community for one afternoon and evening.
Breakfast Program - The school, with parent support, offers a breakfast program, which provides a sense of community as well as a nutritious breakfast.
Plants in the School. - Parents donated hanging plants to beautify the school hallways.
Clowns. - A Primary Unit with a circus theme was completed when all teachers and the principal dressed as clowns. The students provided the clown face for the principal. The day ended with the students giving the Principal a "p,'-e in the face."
Musical - Colborne is presenting a "musical: involving 250 students. Over 50 parents (who come to assist during school hours, as well as after school and on weekends) are involved in various aspects of the production. The school reports that the musical, and related activities, have created a relaxed atmosphere, and spirit of cooperation which have greatly increased the school's sense of community and brought students, parents and teachers much closer together.
Special Education "Pen-Pals" - Lambton Centennial's Primary/Junior Special Education Class has developed a pen-pal relationship with a Special Education class in Davidson, Michigan. This program has expanded to include a yearly intra-school visitation that includes parents. Centennial's grade 7's assist special education students in preparing materials that are sent to pen-pals, and help to run activities when the pen-pals visit.
Science Fair - Primary students are paired with older students who act as "guides" for a tour of the school's science fair. Parents and community members are also invited to view the student's projects.
Framing Student Work - Each year, several pieces of student artwork are professionally framed and added to the school's gallery.
Hospital Visits - Every student who is hospitalized is visited by the principal as well as by teachers and students.
Computer Newsletter - A computer newsletter is produced by students several times each year. This encourages student interest in "desktop publishing", and provides students with a practical application for computer graphics and word processing skills.
Secretary of the Day - Students and staff were involved in a "campaign", which included producing a book and a banner, to support their nomination of the school secretary as the "Secretary of the Day" on a local radio station.
Volunteer Appreciation - Community members who volunteered time to assist in school activities are honored with a certificate and small gift at the school's final assembly. Volunteers who assisted approximately once a week throughout the year are invited to a staff dinner at the end of the year.
Beautification of Northern Committee Northern's students and teachers donated time and energy to raise funds and complete projects to beautify the common areas in the school (cafeteria, hallways, grounds, etc). These areas were painted and decorated, flower baskets were hung in the halls, new larger (and more attractive) waste containers were provided for the cafeteria, outdoor smoking areas were cut from 3 to 1, and new shrubs and flowers were planted in the school courtyard. An outdoor sign for promoting school activities and a computerized electronic sign writer inside the school were also added. These efforts were linked to awareness assemblies for the entire student body, staff meetings, and student council and club activities.
Physical Education Opportunity Program for Exceptional Learners (P.E.O.P.E.L.) - This program integrates senior secondary school students (particularly those interested in working with handicapped persons, or in the helping professions in general) and moderately mentally handicapped students. Senior students who wish to apply to the program are required to have at least one senior level physical education or fitness credit, and are further screened through interviews. Successful applicants begin the course with a three week orientation on exceptionality. Following orientation, each student is matched with an exceptional student; these pairs work together in physical education classes for the remainder of the term. Senior students are evaluated on the basis of the following:
2. The orientation program
3. Assignments by teaching staff
4. Record keeping (each peer tutor maintains a binder documenting the progress of his or her "partner")
5. Peer tutor effectiveness
2. Ask teachers and students to propose activities that will improve climate.
3. Use assessment instruments and brainstorming sessions to identify problems and proposed solutions.
4. Visit schools with a reputation for having a positive climate; take teachers and students with you.
5. Hold informal sessions. (e.g., breakfast or lunch) with selected groups of teachers, staff members, students and parents.
8. Promote and publicize the positive things that happen in your school.
7. Be sure that school information gets to parents and students through handbooks, newsletters and notes.
8. Use your phone to improve communication with parents and others and suggest that teachers do the same.
9. Reward achievement: create honor rolls; have award assemblies; publicize the achievers; both academic and non-academic, in the student newspaper and in local newspapers.
10. Invite parents and others to the school to visit classrooms., help with projects, or serve as resources for the various programs.
11. Develop a strong student council and have its members propose special activities for students.
12. Create a parents' advisory committee.
13. Have special days to promote school spirit (e.g., dress-up days, breakfast for parents, etc.).
14. Use "happy-grams", thank-you notes, a recognition bulletin board, and similar devices to recognize special achievements or happenings.
15. Invite parents and others (e.g., senior citizens) to have lunch with students.
16. Hold potluck suppers with teachers, staff, and parents.
17. Involve teachers in your administrative tasks, such as budget preparation, scheduling, and organizing committees.
18. Have projects that create school pride and school spirit.
19. Hold student seminars to hear their complaints.
20. Hold assemblies on a regular basis.
21. Photograph and display all activities by students, teachers, and staff members that deserve special recognition.
22. Take a teacher, a student, or a small group to lunch.
23. Get involved in the school curriculum and in the instructional program.
24. Use school promotional buttons and bumper stickers; create a school motto.
25. Hold sporting events and informal competition between teachers and students (e.g., basketball, chess, etc.).
26. Hold a school arts and crafts fair.
27. Appoint a committee of teachers and students each year with the task of checking school facilities to determine factors that do and do not promote positive school climate.
28. Visit a classroom at least once a week.
29. End each week on Friday afternoon with a social hour for teachers and staff.
30. Shadow some students to determine their view of the school.
31. Celebrate birthdays.
32. Celebrate each day; be cheerful and pleasant to be around.
33. Hold staff "get togethers" on occasion.
34. Decorate classrooms and the school.
35. Improve the school grounds with the assistance of students, teachers and parents.
36. Display student work.
* Many of these ideas were borrowed and adapted from a booklet entitled "How to Improve School Climate and Communication" (author unknown) pp. 49-53.
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Chapter 1 focussed on the theory and research on school climate. Chapter 2, on the other hand, provided mechanisms for assessing and modifying the school climate. Various needs assessment techniques and instruments were provided. A five-step model for climate improvement was also outlined. Finally, Chapter 3 provided many examples of climate improvement activities currently underway across Canada.
It is apparent that schools and districts are improving the climate in various ways. Some have focussed on the reward systems and school appearance aspects, while others have grappled with such issues as student self-concept and teacher effects.
If there is a message in this monograph, it is that climate does make a difference. Yes, we can do a better job of climate improvement. And yes, there are many ways in which we can accomplish this task. Additionally, climate improvement is a collaborative, problem-solving and group process. Climate improvement is a team process, it cannot be done by one person alone. It requires the attention of students, staff, parents, and of course, the principal of the school. In fact, the principal must provide the energy required to undertake such an initiative. But, the rewards of such an effort are immense.
Hopefully this monograph has provided you with some new insights and ideas. Furthermore, it is hoped that you will use it in ways that meet your needs.
As you work through the materials, your suggestions and comments would be appreciated. We would like to hear about your climate improvement activities.
Let me conclude with a motto to guide you in your work: "If you don't walk it, don't talk it.
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