Wishing for Warmer Climate in Your Schools? Watch these Videos.

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Each year, as school resumes, there’s a flurry of anticipation and preparation. While families gather supplies and practice routines, schools are busy making sure they’re prepared to respond to the needs of each young person who walks through the door. This year, more than most, that means thinking about school violence and social-emotional learning—both topics receiving attention in the national news, and that are inextricably tied to school climate. 

Let me begin by stating the obvious. Positive school climate doesn’t just happen. It takes intentional effort to build the safety, engagement, and environment that comprise a healthy and enriching school climate. But it can be done, and we know it’s worth it. We also know that when interventions spread throughout whole schools and the systems that support them, their effects are stronger. Administrators and teachers are critical players, but so are the bus drivers, classroom aides, cafeteria staff, and after-school volunteers who see kids every day. 

A 2017 analysis of 82 studies on school-based SEL programs concluded that SEL interventions do result in significant positive impacts on youth’s well-being and development. Also, a cost-benefit analysis of six different SEL interventions conducted in 2015 found that, on average, every dollar invested in SEL led to a return of eleven dollars.

The Youth Thrive framework can be a prime resource in helping educators operationalize the key elements that research tells us are important for improving school climate. Here are two great examples of how our partners have aligned their daily practices with this cross-cutting framework in order to put Positive Youth Development (PYD) principles into action.

  • West Carrollton, OH. When we toured this district, we found every building we entered integrating an asset approach to engaging students, each in its own unique way. Watch this video to see how Harold Schnell Elementary School empowered students to serve as key spokespersons for their asset-building effort. 
  • Georgetown, TX. Former principal Randy Adair led Benold Middle School through perhaps my favorite “check yourself” asset-building activity that challenged staff to assess how well they really knew their students. Watch this video to see what they learned, and why you should consider bringing this challenge to your community. 

I’m always so impressed with the creativity of education staff who take a set of PYD concepts and make them their own. If you’re looking for opportunities to ground your daily practice in meaningful, science-informed strategies that can take school climate from good to great, we’re here to help. And we’d love to hear about your school climate successes in the comments below!

~ Tim Duffey, Co-founder, Bolster Collaborative

Interested in learning more about improving school climate? Visit the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments online.