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A Simple Activity to Help Create a Positive Climate in Your School.

I have developed a program that enables your staff to create a positive climate in your school!

What's the Issue?

Research on school climate states:

“School climate can be a positive influence on the health of the learning environment or a significant barrier to learning” (Freiberg 1998).

As educators, it is our responsibility to provide the very best education we can to our students. Last week I promised to share some of my “secrets” with administrators and teachers, regarding positive school climate.

I have developed a program that enables your staff to create a positive climate in your school! The Generation Text Online Positive School Climate program consists of several simple activities that require no supplies and no preparation

Objectives:

1.       To create an atmosphere (for educators and students) within the school that:

  • ·         Allows for academic & social growth
  • ·         Enables people to feel trust and respect
  • ·         Allows for achievement motivation
  • ·         Is fair
  • ·         has order and discipline
  • ·         has positive student interpersonal relationships
  • ·         has positive student-teacher relationships
  • ·         has high morale
  • ·         allows for the opportunity for input
  • ·         Allows for cohesiveness
  • ·         Is caring

2.       The opportunity to learn specifics about the person, not just a “number” or “student” in a class or school.

3.       To understand the events that people experience outside of school and how if effects the.

4.       For educators and students to feel physically safe in their environment.

5.       For educators and students to attend work and school free of ridicule, harassment, intimidation and bullying

The first activity, called High/Lows, is an extremely effective method of building a bond within any group of people. If this activity is conducted on a weekly basis, you will be amazed at how quickly this tool works to build a positive climate within a classroom.

How to get it started:

I suggest using this activity with the education staff in your building to kick off a school wide program. By first having the staff participate in this activity, it allows them to understand how simple it is to implement with their students. In my experience, “proving” to your staff that this activity is easy to implement, is the biggest hurdle in motivating and expecting educators to take on additional tasks in their job description. Once educators witness how this activity makes classroom management a whole lot easier, the positive results will be exponential!

Depending on the size of your group, you may need to split into several groups. If this activity is just one activity of many, similar to the format at a retreat, it is best to keep it moving quickly. In order to accomplish that, I would suggest splitting the attendees into groups of 10 – 15 people.

For teachers who are working towards a positive climate for their class, it is important to have all class members participate in one group. Have your group get into a circle. Each group should choose a facilitator or someone to keep the activity moving (in a classroom, the teacher is the facilitator). 

How it works:

To begin, the first participant in the circle will share with the rest of the group their “High” of the week, or the best thing that happened to them. The facilitator or others in the group may ask questions or comment. When doing High/Lows with kids, the facilitator role is an important one in order to keep the activity moving.  Next the person who is talking will share their “Low” of the week, or the worst thing that happened to them. Going clockwise, each person in the circle should share their High/Lows.

The idea of this activity is to offer an existing group of people the opportunity to learn two current things about each person. It is natural for people to be most concerned with self-centered thoughts. This activity allows each participant to focus their thoughts on someone other than themselves, as well as practice their active listening skills. As a result of this activity, classmates begin to understand motives or circumstances of why people may act out or react in various situations. Once this activity is practiced on a consistent basis (I like choosing a particular day of the week and doing it in the beginning of class) you will see that participants begin to “notice“ things about other people. Once people are not focused on self-centered thoughts and needs, they begin to see what they have never seen before. As a result of this new realization, participants are able to see opportunities to help those who may need support and comfort. 

Assessment:

Following the high/lows, you may want to emphasize with your staff the purpose of this exercise. I believe that it is always better to ask the participants what it is they learned rather than lecture them; therefore I use a 21st Century strategy. Here is a list of discussion questions that allows for this exercise:

•             Why do you think we did this?

•             What did you think about the facilitator (you and the person who was running the exercise)?

•             Do you think we cared about what you were saying?  Why?  How could you tell?

                Suggested answers:

  • ·         Shook my head
  • ·         Told a personal story
  • ·         Asked questions
  • ·         Smiled
  • ·         Looked at you

Good Luck and Enjoy!–

Jill Brown

Generation Text Online

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Westfield Parent January 01, 2013 at 02:04 PM
I just don't understand for the life of me why our local schools haven't invited you to do a presentation. Why?
NR9 January 01, 2013 at 06:14 PM
@Westfield Parent. There could be many good reasons. And, that’s her business. Maybe Westfield has someone for this role already? Maybe she already has a full plate with other schools in other towns? Maybe, like many parents who do work in schools, she prefers to do her job/work elsewhere and focus on just being a parent in her children’s school district? Clearly, you have a personal issue against the author. Patch is not the right forum for airing your grievances against this person. Either read/learn from her articles or don’t click on/read them. But to repeatedly use the comments section to make personal attacks on the author is disrespectful to the author and to the rest of us readers.
Westfield Parent January 02, 2013 at 01:01 AM
How is it a personal attack asking a question? She writes some very good advice and I was wondering why our schools have not taken advantage of a local Mom to educate our students. It's a very simple question and I was just wondering why. Sorry to "disrespect" you.

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