Report identifies behaviors that improve school climate
- Kindness, showing pride in one’s work and using appropriate communication are among the student behaviors most likely to contribute to a positive school environment, according to Kickboard's "Positive School Culture Inventory."
- Over a seven-year period, educators in 645 schools observed and digitally kept track of 152 million student behaviors, which allowed educator Tom Hierck and researcher Kent Peterson to determine which were more highly associated with improvements in school climate.
- “Students learn appropriate behavior in the same way they learn how to read — through instruction, practice, feedback, and encouragement,” Hierck and Peterson write, adding that “educators should acknowledge the desired behaviors in order to reinforce the teaching of the new behaviors, increase the likelihood of the desired behaviors becoming habitual, and harness the influence of students who are showing the expected behaviors to encourage those who are not.”
The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) system, which focuses on modeling and reinforcing good behavior among students, is widely used in schools across the country. And now, with the U.S. Department of Education suggesting that PBIS is a good fit for the Every Student Succeeds Act’s focus on school climate, more schools are likely to implement the approach.
Hierck and Peterson write in their white paper, however, that it can be hard for teachers to discern which behaviors are more important to encourage and reinforce, as well as for school leaders to determine whether they have reached their school climate goals. Other behaviors that were found to contribute to a positive climate included active listening or engagement, showing leadership and helping others.
With schools increasingly focusing on nonacademic areas of student success, as well as traditional measures of student achievement, such an inventory can focus a school’s efforts and help educators and students have a common language around behavior expectations.
Follow Linda Jacobson on Twitter