Alpha School of New Jersey – Building a Positive School Climate for All
In October of 2019, Pat O’Keefe, a speaker from the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) presented a staff workshop titled “Building a Positive School Climate.”
Creating a positive school climate can have a positive impact on attendance for students and staff. It can also improve academic success, communication styles, and safety levels for students and teachers. There is a huge correlation between social-emotional learning and academic success. Feeling safe and supported both physically and emotionally helps create a supportive school climate. What are some of the ways that we can work to build a positive school climate here at Alpha School?
Create a School Climate Plan
Developing and sustaining a school climate plan is the first step. It should involve all staff, students, parents, and guardians. A school climate plan should help students and staff work toward educational goals as well as life skills, social skills, collaboration, and interactions with different types of people..
Create a Team to Implement the Plan
New Jersey public schools implement school climate teams involving staff from a wide variety of roles during the day and during after-school activities, i.e., teachers, school nurses, custodians, paraprofessionals, and school counselors. This can also be helpful in private schools. It’s very important for staff members to work together to create a positive school atmosphere, as they generally remain in the school longer than the students. School climate teams should also collaborate with other staff and schools to determine how to best serve students and staff members.
Unify the School with a Mission
It’s very important to make sure the school’s mission statement reflects the values of productive, healthy goals to empower students and staff to grow and feel comfortable throughout the school year. School culture is affected by location, background, the way things are done, the values present with staff and students, a school’s mascots, habits, and traditions. Assumptions can often lead to unhealthy, unproductive school climates. A school’s mission statement should help unify the students and staff, specifically contributing to creating a collaborative team at the school and to use time, money, and decisions to best serve the students and staff. It can be helpful for a wide variety of people from different roles in the school to create updated mission statements on a regular basis so it reflects current values and goals.
Details that Make a Difference
What specific factors contribute to a positive school climate?
- A school’s physical environment can play a big role in school climate. Decorations, colors, and item placement can help the school effectively promote positive messages and get important information to students.
- Staff can help by modeling positive social interactions in the different relationships that exist in schools: adult to adult, student to student, adult to student, and student to adult. It is vital to maintain respect in all of these relationships.
- School staff can help guide important social skills through celebrations for birthdays and other important occasions, assigning personalized tasks, and acknowledging success daily.
- This can create an overall feeling of belonging within the school.
- Students should also get opportunities to practice social skills through collaboration during class assignments and during leisure time between academic subjects.
When all staff, parents, and guardians work together to reinforce the importance of a positive school climate with students, it can have a positive impact on school life for everyone.
Alpha School an private special education school in New Jersey
Our Mission at The Alpha School is to help all of our special needs students with the learning, social, language, and behavioral support they deserve. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student to becoming the best they can while providing a safe and nurturing educational environment.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child’s specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.370.1150, or request a tour of Alpha School of Jackson, NJ located just minutes off of Route 9 and Route 195 in Ocean County.
— John Gonzalez, Principal-Alpha School, Jackson, NJ