Creating a Schoolwide Climate of Excellence

The School Climate Solution: Creating a Culture of Excellence from the Classroom to the Staffroom
By Jonathan C. Erwin
(Free Spirit Publishing, 2016 – Learn more)

Reviewed by Rita Platt

According to The School Climate Solution, a focus on building positive climates makes schools more than just pleasant places to be. A strong climate, says author Jonathan C. Erwin, is the solution to a host of common school problems.

From reducing discipline issues and bullying to increasing graduation, attendance, and academic achievement, a focus on climate is the key to success. Before any other school needs can be addressed, schools must be places where students and teachers alike feel safe, comfortable, and happy with their relationships.

This book serves as a blueprint for increasing positive climate, as the subtitle states, from the classroom to the staff room.

What you’ll find inside

The book is divided into three parts. Each is highly practical with accompanying forms and documents found online and accessed with a password that comes with purchase of the text.

Part 1 focuses on what Erwin calls the foundation of positive school climate: safety and relationships. Teachers familiar with Responsive Classroom or Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) will find the offered strategies familiar. Classroom meetings, building a common set of core values (called “touchstones” here), and inspiring student leadership are all discussed.

Part 2 centers on teaching students the social and emotional skills they need to create and sustain a positive school climate. Specific lesson plans, some stand-alone and some meant to be integrated into core subjects, are included and most are easy to follow and adaptable to many ages.

Part 3 offers strategies for proactive behavior management techniques through identifying and satisfying basic and more complex human needs. Here readers will find examples and lesson plans for everything from allowing student voice and choice to ameliorating poor behaviors in students.

One of the strengths of the book is its dual focus. Erwin offers strategies and plans for both whole school and single classroom environments, making this a good handbook for almost any educator at any level of influence.

The School Climate Solution is a good book for your professional library. I highly recommend it for school leaders – be they principals, coaches, or classroom teachers.

Readers will likely find that their copy, like mine, is quickly marked up and dog-eared. The practical nature of the text makes it ideal for group study or action-based work with a school improvement committee or other professional learning community. 

Rita Platt (@ritaplatt) is a National Board Certified Teacher with master’s degrees in reading, library, and leadership. Her experience includes teaching learners in remote Alaskan villages, inner cities, and rural communities. She currently is a teacher-librarian, teaches graduate courses for the Professional Development Institute and writes for We Teach We Learn.

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