A positive school climate radiates in every aspect of campus life. It is on the walls, on bulletin messages. It is in the school activities. It is in every student’s face. It is hard to miss it and not feel at home. The tricky thing about school climate though is that it is an intangible concept, that it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly creates it, let alone define it.
This is what you have to remember: a positive environment is one that enables students to be their best, not just in the academic aspect, but also in terms of physical, emotional, and social well-being. These are the elements you should pay attention to as you create a positive climate in your school:
When pupils feel that they are safe, they do not worry about expressing themselves — they run free on your campus grounds, they ask questions in class, they participate actively in activities outside the classroom, and they do not fear being bullied. That free expression contributes to a better community spirit. The best way to foster a sense of safety in school is by establishing a set of rules that encourage common decency and respect towards others.
At the very least, you must have strong anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies. Publish these in various materials, print and online, so kids will be informed how to report incidents, where to go for counselling, and how authorities take action. Partner with parents as well in monitoring and assessing odd behaviors of children to protect the emotional and social well-being of students.
The space where your students move about can make or break the sense of belongingness. Start assessing your classrooms. When a new student comes in, does the environment help them be at ease, or is it off-putting and intimidating because of the U-shape seating arrangement or too many decors on the walls?
Consider making adjustments if your classroom is less than welcoming (perhaps bean bag chairs and some negative space on the walls can make the space a little more homey). Do not stop at the individual rooms, though. Think about the spaces between buildings, the cafeteria, the playgrounds, and other social spaces outdoors. These should be sites where students can come together and build rapport with each other.
Provide a comfortable environment in these spaces, for instance, investing in school shelters’ canopies to offer shade for students hanging out.
Every school has a vision-mission statement, but too often, these are just words on the bulletin board that never really resonate to pupils. But the thing is, your vision-mission gives you one collective goal, a common interest, which if realised more deeply, can bring you to a better sense of community. Do not leave your vision-mission merely on paper. Let your students embrace it and live it. Package it in a fun way, too.
For instance, if your mission is to promote excellence among students, perhaps you can create a graffiti wall of some sorts, letting students doodle their definition of excellence. That would help in bringing the student body together.
A positive school climate is not something that just happens. It requires a lot of effort from every member of the community, especially the administrators, teachers, and students. Keep the mentioned elements in mind as you make the difference in your school.