Positive Learning Climates KnowledgeBase

The Positive Learning Climates KnowledgeBase is an online resource to aid educators in nurturing school climates conducive to learning. It is organized around five elements aimed at developing a positive learning climate.

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

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

Task 5: Locate Resources for Professional Learning

Guideline: Strategies for promoting a positive learning climate should include related professional learning activities. The principal can strive to coordinate those needs within the scope of the school's overall professional learning program. Such efforts should address the impact of student behavior on academic achievement. This is an area where technical assistance can be helpful in identifying and implementing proven professional learning methods.

Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools

As noted at its website, "this eight hour Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools course is a short and 'easy to take' web-based course that focuses on multi-hazard emergency planning for schools. It is offered by FEMA's Emergency Management Institute as an independent study program."

Funding for Professional Development

The No Child Left Behind Act provides funding for professional development. This document summarizes the professional development funding provisions as delineated in Title I.

Breakfast Club

Chronicled by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, the Breakfast Club concept developed at the Adams School in Chicago illustrates one approach to making time for professional development.

Create Time for Professional Development

This resource from the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory's Pathways to School Improvement lists nine strategies for creating time for professional development.  

Finding Time for Staff Training and Collaboration

This document identifies a variety of ideas districts and schools have used to find time for professional learning and collaboration.

Superintendent Provides Structure and Time for Staff Development

A district superintendent describes his philosophy of staff development and how he helped to implement it in a large suburban Chicago high school.

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