School Cultures and Climates

State Resource Center: Culture and Climate

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When students learn and educators work in an environment that is safe, supportive, and connected, they are more likely to develop the social and emotional competencies they need to be successful. Many state education agencies leverage SEL as a core strategy to improve school culture and climate.

CASEL recommends that states provide guidance on how educators can intentionally create a positive learning environment with SEL. The resources below can help.

Resources from CASEL

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Feel free to download, customize, and use with attribution, e.g., “Adapted from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning and used with permission.”

  • SEL District Resource Center. The digital platform offers a section on integration that includes extensive guidance and tools for creating a supportive and welcoming school climate and culture. Access the website.

Resources from Other Organizations

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  • K-12 School Safety. Education Commission of the States. The brief offers a comprehensive look at K-12 school safety policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. (February 2019). Visit the webpage.
  • Educating the Whole Child: Improving School Climate to Support Student Success. Learning Policy Institute. This brief reviews research demonstrating that student learning and development depend on affirming relationships operating within a positive school climate. research to provide all children with a sense of safety and belonging. (September 2018). Download the brief.
  • School Climate and Social and Emotional Learning: The Integration of Two Approaches. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A discussion of the mutually beneficial relationship between supportive structures of SEL and school climate if you want to integrate SEL and school climate efforts to support your school or district. (January 2018). Download the brief.
  • Best Practices, Strategies, and Recommendations for Improving School Climate and Culture. American Institutes for Research. Strategies, best practices, and recommendations for school climate from 15 unique sources that is useful in identifying specific programs to improve school climate and culture. (March 2018). Download the PDF.
  • The Intersection of School Climate and Social and Emotional Development. American Institutes for Research. For those interested in the natural alignment between school climate and SEL programs, use this deep dive into SEL’s role in school climate, including SEL frameworks, needs of schools, and measurement. (February 2017). Download the brief.
  • Ten Key Ideas for Social Emotional Learning School Climate. American Institutes for Research. This brochure is useful if you are seeking actionable steps to build a foundation of mutual support for SEL and school climate. (October 2016). Download the PDF.
  • National School Climate Standards. National School Climate Council. Five standards with indicators and subindicators to improve and promote positive school environments. (2013) Download the PDF.

Resources from States and School Districts

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  • California Department of Education – Positive School Climate Webpage. Web-based resources that can be helpful in identifying examples of how school climate and academics interact on a state level. Access the webpage.
  • Colorado Department of Education – Measuring School Climate: A Toolkit for Districts and Schools. A step-by-step guide for schools or districts seeking instructions on how to begin to measure school climate. Access the webpage.
  • Connecticut – Model School Climate Policy. The document outlines a streamlined school climate improvement policy for all districts. Download the PDF.
  • Michigan Department of Education – Connecting SEL to Michigan’s School Improvement Framework: Guidance and Resources for K–12 and Early Childhood Settings. Guidance on how to integrate SEL into classroom climate. Download the report.
  • Ohio Department of Education- School Climate Guidelines. Nine guidelines for exceptional school climates with benchmarks for district action. Download the report.

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