Why You Should Listen to Students About Their School Climate
School Climate. It is a very subjective and abstract term. It can differ greatly from school to school, state to state, and even from one part of the country to another. And, in order to understand how to improve it, we need to understand exactly what a school climate means.
According to the National School Climate Center, School Climate refers to the quality and character of school life. School climate is based on patterns of students’, parents’ and school personnel’s experience of school life and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures.
Sure, that’s a lot of big words. But school climate is an overarching concept directly related to student success and achievement. According to the National Center on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, school climate can be broken down into three key areas: Engagement, Safety, and Environment.
Understanding school climate is the first major step in understanding why it matters and uncovering the most effective ways to improve it. It matters because research has shown that schools with a climate considered to be positive were TEN times more likely to see substantial improvements in student performance in key subject areas. This proves that the correlation between school climate and academic achievement make it so important for all students regardless of race, religion, gender, or socioeconomic status to have the opportunity to attend schools that provide a positive environment where they can thrive in their studies and be provided opportunities to reach their goals.
From my perspective as a high school sophomore, the most effective way to improve school climate is to engage students of all backgrounds in the conversation and provide an opportunity for students to have a voice in the fight for more equitable schools. The key is to engage students, teachers, and stakeholders and value all opinions and perspectives. This helps to ensure that all groups feel like they have skin in the game and a voice in the fight for equitable schools.
The bottom line is that school climate matters. And it matters a lot. It’s so important to recognize the fact that all key voices need to be heard in order to make necessary changes to improve a school climate.