The Positive Learning Climates KnowledgeBase

Element 1: Understand the Law

Purpose: In addition to addressing academic rigor, instructional strategies, teacher qualifications, and class size, the learning environment plays an equally important role in improving student academic achievement. The first step in creating a positive learning climate is understanding the laws addressing school safety. Element 1 offers basic information on the legal aspects of school safety.

Activity 1: Become Familiar with the Legal Aspects Concerning Safer Schools

Activity 2: Understand Legal Implications for Schools and School Personnel

Task 4: Examine the School's Physical Environment


Guideline: A school's physical facilities play a role in assuring a safe learning environment for students. When assessing the physical environment, attention should be given to how the building systems and security issues impact the school and students.

Environment Checklist

Partnership by Design, a resource from Education Northwest, the former Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, offers a useful checklist to assess a school's physical environment.

Ensuring Quality School Facilities and Security Technologies

This resource is part of Education Northwest's series of safe schools guidebooks. Ensuring Quality School Facilities and Security Technologies helps educators and other members of the community understand the relationship between school safety and school facilities, including technology.

Linking School Facility Conditions to Teacher Satisfaction and Success

This link is to an article summarizing a survey of Chicago and Washington, D.C., teachers showing the links among the condition of school facilities, educational outcomes, and teacher attrition. Though the study reports on Chicago and Washington, D.C., schools, all urban school systems might use the findings with their improvement efforts.

Element 2: Know Your School and Community

Purpose: Assessing the school's learning climate involves looking at student behavior, school culture, physical environment, family and community involvement, and interactions with other government agencies. Element 2 outlines the tasks involved in creating a profile of the school's learning climate.

Activity 1: Take a Snapshot of School and Community

Activity 2: Identify Focus Areas

Element 3: Create a Comprehensive Positive School Climate

Purpose: Addressing school climate is an important aspect of improving academic performance. Taking a comprehensive look at a school's climate addresses focus areas that merit attention and communicates intended methods and strategies to the staff members, students, and other relevant constituent groups. Element 3 outlines the tasks involved with creating a positive school climate.

Activity 1: Plan to Act

Activity 2: Develop Methods and Strategies

Activity 3: Identify Resources Required to Accomplish Goals

Activity 4: Document Methods and Strategies

Element 4: Implement Strategies

Purpose: Improvement is achieved through the effective implementation of chosen strategies. To be successful, the principal should monitor the school's progress towards implementing the selected strategies. Element 4 outlines the steps for implementing the strategies aimed at improving a school's climate.

Activity 1: Manage Implementation

Activity 2: Accomplish Change

Activity 3: Evaluate Outcomes

Element 5: Communicate with School's Constituencies

Purpose: What happens in school is community news and sometimes even draws national attention. A district's and school's communication strategies should address how behavioral incidents are handled. Element 5 provides information on communicating with the school's constituencies.

Activity 1: Develop a Communications Strategy

Activity 2: Execute Communications Strategy