At Boxlight, we’re dedicated to the creation of effective learning environments. Of course, we tend to focus on student collaboration and direct interaction with lesson content. But other important ingredients in full student engagement in learning are the climate and culture of the school.
Some of you may be thinking, “Wait, aren’t school climate and school culture the same thing?” While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they aren’t the same, as an article from Principal magazine points out:
“School culture constitutes the common behaviors, beliefs, and other unwritten rules to which the adults and children in the institution conform…. School climate is the collective attitude or morale of everyone within the institution.”
Educators’ Perceptions About Climate and Culture
Have you noticed that it’s harder for students to perform in class when they are upset, frightened, dispirited, or negatively affected in some way? Over the years, research has shown that students’ learning can be affected by their behavioral, social, and emotional needs and issues.
According to a new report, this concept has gained enormous traction among educators. The good news appears in The State of Climate & Culture Initiatives in America’s Schools, prepared by the global market research and data company YouGov on behalf of the school culture system maker Kickboard.
In the study, over 2,500 teachers, school administrators, and district administrators weighed in on the role of climate and culture initiatives, as well as the opportunities and challenges they face in creating environments that foster student success. More than 90 percent said they believe that addressing student behavior and underlying social and emotional needs is a critical step in promoting student success.
Here are additional findings about educators’ perceptions about climate and culture:
- 93% find that behavioral issues impede learning.
- 92% say that academic interventions cannot be successful if behavioral issues are not addressed.
- 91% say that students who are academically at-risk often have behavioral, social, or emotional issues at the heart of their struggles.
- 93% of teachers are in schools with some kind of climate and culture initiative.
- 62% of district administrators say their district has a district-wide initiative.
Problems with Climate and Culture Initiatives
There was some bad news in the report, as well. Even though a majority of respondents were working with a climate and culture initiative, only 26% rated their current initiatives as “extremely effective” or “very effective.” Teachers were far less likely than school or district administrators to feel that current initiatives were effective. Among the top nine problems cited were the following:
- Inconsistency − Inconsistency regarding the types of behaviors that are tracked, monitored, and rewarded topped the list of problems by a wide margin. Both teachers and administrators expressed frustration at the difficulty of maintaining consistency in recording behaviors and determining rewards and consequences.
- Managing Data Collection − Challenges with collecting data on behaviors, referrals, consequences, etc. was the fifth top concern. The report surmised that these challenges may also underpin the problem of inconsistency in climate and culture implementation.
- Time and Paperwork − Interestingly, the complaint that manual recording of behaviors takes too much time/too much paper was second to last on the list of the top nine.
How Can Technology Help?
There is a potential solution for these three particular problems: using a technology system to streamline data collection and analysis. While few teachers (only 22%!) reported having access to a technology program that enables them to track, record, and monitor student behavior, upwards of 80% said that each of the following factors would motivate them to bring a program, service, or software solution into their schools to enhance the climate and culture:
- Increasing student achievement for at-risk students
- Increasing student engagement and motivation
- Reducing lost instruction time
The report included charts depicting what the survey respondents considered to be the most important usage and reporting features in a tech system. “A parental portal” and “protection for student data” tied for the top desired item in terms of implementation. But the most wanted reporting feature was “an easy way to see the connection between students’ academic progress and their behavior.”
You can read the entire report at https://www.kickboardforschools.com/blog/post/new-research-school-culture-across-america.
What about your school? Is there a climate and culture initiative in place? What features would you want to see in a climate and culture support system? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.