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Transforming School Climate and Learning

Transforming School Climate and Learning
Beyond Bullying and Compliance

Foreword by Raymond J. McNulty

August 2011 | 184 pages | Corwin
Creating safe schools from the inside out most educators agree that children learn better in an honoring and respectful culture. They also know that top-down imposed change rarely sticks. In Transforming School Climate and Learning, Bill Preble and Rick Gordon show how to accomplish lasting results by engaging both teachers and students in the five-step SafeMeasures™ process, a collaborative action research model that involves:

1. Establishing a school improvement team that includes teachers and student leaders 2. Collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative school climate data

3. Using data to develop school climate and learning improvement goals

4. Developing a culture that will dramatically improve school climate and student engagement

5. Implementing formative assessment for continuous improvement

This innovative and proven program is advocated by the US Department of Education. Each chapter provides success stories from real schools, strategies and an implementation activity, and book study questions that help all participants transform both their school climate and student learning.

Foreword by Raymond J. McNulty
About the Authors
Introduction: Bringing Our Schools Into Balance
Beyond Bullying, Beyond Compliance

Getting Beyond Piecemeal Problem Solving

The Rational for This Book: School Climate as a Key to School Safety, Student Motivation, and Academic Achievement

Guideposts for School Leaders: Administrators, Teachers, AND Students

Organization of the Book

Why Read This Book?

Students and Teachers as Partners in Transforming School Climate

1. School Climate: The Heart and Soul of a School
Making Meaningful Improvement in Schools

Why Is School Climate Important?

School Climate and Effective Schools

Essential School Climate Factors

We All Want Respectful Schools

What Teachers and Students Mean by Respect

Beeper Studies: Our Original Research on Respectful Schools

The Respect Continuum: A Practical Theory of Respect

The Disrespect Side of the Continuum

The Respect Side of the Continuum

How Schools Use the Respect Continuum

Initial Success in One District

Looking Beyond Stopping Misbehavior

Making It Real: A Real-Life Respectful School


Book Study Questions

2. The SafeMeasures Process: A Student-Led, Collaborative Action Research Process
Sarason's Research on School Change

Balancing Adult and Student Leadership

The SafeMeasures Process: An Overview

Bandura's Research on Self-Efficacy

Looking Deeply at Collaborative Action Research

Emancipatory Research

Making It Real: School Climate Improvement


Book Study Questions

3. Stage One: Everyone Is a Leader: Empowering Students and Teachers
The Dignity of Expertise

Getting Started

Administrative Support Is Essential

The Adult Design Team: Membership and Roles

National School Climate Standards as a Guide to Action

Selecting a Diverse Team of Student Leaders

Challenges to Choosing a Diverse Team of Student Leaders

Making it Real: Student Leadership Training


Simple Summary: Stage One

Book Study Questions

4. Stage Two: Including All Voices: School Climate Data Collection
The Importance of Data

What Gets Measured Is What Gets Done

Some Potential Problems With School Data Collection

What and How to Measure

What to Do With Data

When Students Become School Climate Researchers

The Power of Qualitative Data

The Value of Quantitative Data

Making It Real: Elementary School Student Researchers


Simple Summary: Stage Two

Book Study Questions

5. Stage Three: Thinking Together: Data Analysis and Goal Setting
Internal or External Locus of Control: Whose Responsibility

Cognitive Dissonance: Wrestling With Data to Construct Meaning

No Fault, No Blame

Words or Numbers? Analyzing Data With Students

Using Quantitative Data Effectively

Goal Setting With Student Leaders

Why Students Lead the Way: Student and Teacher Data Analysis and Goal Setting

Faculty Data Analysis and Goal Setting

The Work of Goal-Based Action Teams

Making It Real: Data Analysis and Goal Setting With Chain Reaction


Simple Summary: Stage Three

Book Study Questions

6. Stage Four: Making Change Happen: Action Planning and Project Development
Action Planning: Where Change Begins

No One Best System

School Climate Action Teams: Working Effectively With Colleagues

Action Planning Steps

Using the Respect Continuum as a Guide to Action

Moving Toward the Positive

Respectful Teaching

Balanced Leadership: Adults and Students Joining Forces for Change

Making It Real: The Backpack Project


Simple Summary: Stage Four

Book Study Questions

7. Stage Four Specifics: Action Projects to Promote Respectful Teaching and Learning
Changing School Climate Through Respectful Teaching

Engagement Strategies That Work

Providing Students With Choices

Authentic, Applied, Real-World Learning

Altering the Schedule to Provide Learning Opportunities

Making It Real: Sugata Mitra's Hole-in-the-Wall Project


Simple Summary: Stage Four Specifics

Book Study Questions

8. Stage Five: Moving Forward Together: Sustainability and Continuous Improvement
Change Is a Process, Not an Event

Key Elements of Sustainable Change

Closing the Gaps

Dignity and Respect

The Best People Working on the Problem

Socially Based and Action-Oriented Change

Enhance, Extend, and Empower

Make a Multiyear Commitment

Formative Assessment: A Critical Part of the Process

Aligning School Climate and Learning: Demonstrate a Balanced Approach

Guideposts for Sustainability

Making It Real: Talking Walls


Simple Summary: Stage Five

Book Study Questions

9. The Road Ahead: Transforming School Climate and Learning
When Will the Time Be Right?

Continued Resistance, Growing Hope

School Climate As a Coherent Framework for Understanding Schools

Implications for School Leaders, Teachers, and Students


Book Study Questions

List of Appendices
Appendix A: From Violence to Empowerment: A Respect Continuum

Appendix B: Sample School Climate Data Summary

Appendix C: Example of Student Goals and Evidence of Need: Elementary School Data (Grades 3–6)


"The authors clearly illustrate their premises, provide detailed descriptions of their reform procedures, and heroically tackle many facets which are often unaddressed in the educational literature."

Cathy A. Patterson, Teacher and Former Assistant Principal
Evergreen Elementary School, Walnut, CA

"I haven’t the slightest hesitation in recommending support for any venture with which Bill Preble is associated. He is a man who challenges conventional wisdom and long may he remain so.  Read the book. You will discover what transforming school climate and learning really means and how essential it is to support Bill’s vision.”

Michael Morgan, Former CEO
The Froebel Educational Institute, London, UK

"Preble and Gordon get it that schools are ecological habitats. They recognize students, and everyone in the school environment, as essential to maintaining the school as a dynamic and healthy system. This book - and the student-led, collaborative action research it describes - is an essential waypoint to making any school a humane, effective and sustainable habitat for its students, teachers, and staff."

Tom Julius, Director of Academic Assessment
Antioch University New England, Keene, NH

"This is a practical book, it is a resource that teachers and administrators will want to use throughout their careers."

Lyne Ssebikindu, Assistant Principal
Crump Elementary School, Memphis, TN

"The topic is very current and the need is great. This will become a great handbook for educators on how to transform school climate."

Gary L. Willhite, Professor
University of Wisconsin La Crosse

"The book has a real value. Having gone through a very similar experience of focusing on school climate as a means of improving student learning, I found the points made here to be valid. The authors’ Five-Step process identifies key components. Using data to monitor the results, and committing to the long-haul to achieve the goals are two important pieces in this process. The authors demonstrate that well."

Martin J. Hudacs, Superintendent
Solanco School District, Quarryville, PA

"Each chapter contains real-life scenarios; real student, parent, and educator voices; clearly detailed strategies; and pitfalls to avoid. The conclusions are simple, yet powerful. The book’s premise is backed by many years of research."

Janie L. Nusser, Superintendent of Schools
South Seneca Central School District, Ovid, NY

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ISBN: 9781412992688

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