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What’s the Climate at Your School?

By Joy Jameson

These days, climate is a topic of great concern around the world, and not only from a meteorological standpoint. Increasingly, we use the term to evoke the work atmosphere at our schools and workplaces.
Stop and think: how would you describe the work climate at your school? Overall, is it as warm and inviting as a trip to a Caribbean island? As cold and hazardous as a visit to Antarctica in the dead of winter? As arid as a major desert? Maybe a mixture of climates? Workplace climate plays a crucial part in the success or failure of schools.
To determine the climate of your school, various key factors need to be closely examined. This is not a time to just glaze over certain areas. To obtain actual evidence to back up the statements in your climate report, you’ll need to devote time to studying each factor in detail.
What follows is a list of some suggested key factors whose review will allow you to obtain a general overview of the climate of your workplace. Prepare yourself; experience has shown that the findings of these detailed studies can be quite eye-opening and often unexpected.
Relationships between employees—Are employees working as a team to help each other and to provide the best education possible for students? Is there fierce competition among staff members for jobs, training, etc.? Do staff members represent all age groups and are all staff treated with respect? Do younger teachers make demeaning comments regarding older staff members and/or vice versa? Are cliques the main social pattern?
Employee relations with Admin—Are administrators fair with all employees and willing to listen to differing opinions? Do administrators include staff in decision making and recognize the value of transparency, or is their supervision secretive and with an iron hand, i.e., “Don’t ask questions, just do it!” Do administrators consider the repercussions of their decisions on the lives of the families of employees? Do administrators understand the word “empathy?”
School/Parent Relations—Does the school value positive school/parent relationships and work to promote them or are parents solely thought of as sources of revenue for the school? Are parents treated with respect by school administrative staff and teachers and made to feel welcome when visiting the campus?
Relationship of teachers with students – Do teachers recognize that students have individual needs, learning styles, and opinions? Are teaching staff patient, kind, and supportive of students with special needs?
Discipline at school—Are school rules clearly stated and understood by all students and teachers? Are warnings (second chances) given when an infraction occurs?
Teachers—Do administrators treat all teachers the same with regard to discipline, i.e. school rules apply to everyone, no “staff pets” to whom rules don’t apply?
Students—Do administrators carry out some form of discipline when students are sent to the office so that students learn there are consequences for behavior that is not appropriate for a school setting, or does a trip to the principal’s office simply mean an escape from class with no consequences?
Openness to suggestions—Is the school open to employee suggestions at all grade levels? Do employees feel that their suggestions will be actually read and considered or is it a waste of time to offer suggestions since it is felt they will be quickly deleted with the click of a computer key?
As you can see, examining the climate of a school or business is a multi-faceted process. The climate of an organization needs to be kept under constant, close scrutiny to ensure that the organization functions at its highest and most successful level and to enable administrators to take corrective actions before small storms develop into major hurricanes.

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11/11/2019 - Saleh
Well said Delboy, and relationships are maintained healthy when constantly supported and reinforced by practice.
10/12/2019 - Delboy
It boils down to one word : Relationships. Schools are about people and the interactions between them. No matter which title you have or role you play, everyone invests in the school and that investment must be recognized. Like all investments, the greater the return ( in wellbeing, health, achievement, academic attainment etc...) the greater the investment , and the inky way this is successful in our schools is through relationships.



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