Title

Culture Shock: Electrifying School Climate Without Pulling the Plug!

Location

Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

This proposal relates to four of the five strands connected with the conference theme. Effective leadership impacts school climate, a safe and conducive learning environment and student achievement. Schools must be seen as work friendly and supportive because schools are where many of us spend most of our awakening hours. Research shows climate as one the biggest morale boosters or busters that impact teacher retention and student achievement. Happy Teachers + Happy Students = Healthy Climate

Brief Program Description

Administrators in high poverty schools work diligently to maximize student achievement and retain effective teachers. Mandates and initiatives make this a daunting task pushing leaders to think outside the box. Unlike the weather, school climate can be controlled using variables that work. Participants will walk away with a purpose, perspective and power source for electrifying school climate. Climate Matters!

Summary

What is it that keeps teachers coming back and students electrified about learning? There are no easy answers. For the past five years Shirley Hills Elementary School has received numerous National and State Awards. It is not by accident that SHES has made great gains. We are results oriented and data driven, but numbers or dots on the bell curve do not define our success. We are defined by our climate and culture. Mandates and expectations for students, teachers and leaders over the last five years have made sustainability a challenge. We are expected to do more with less and work longer demanding hours. The research shows schools that feel safe and foster high-quality relationships among students and teachers offset the negative effects of outside variables that impact climate. The school environment has long been recognized as a powerful influence on the perceptions of students and teachers. Effective organizational structure starts at the top with the leadership. At SHES, school climate sets the tone for our day to day practices and classrooms that work. Our climate impacts our culture or “how we do the right things year after year and keep the main thing the main thing” to promote learning and self-fulfillment in our building. Positive environmental changes have motivated students and staff to stay “plugged in” and connected during the stressful times. Our administrators are “charged” with “recharging” our students and teachers throughout the year to keep the electricity flowing. So again you ask what keeps teachers coming back and students electrified about learning? Our story is like no other you will ever hear. Interactive instructional faculty meetings and classrooms, meaningful professional learning opportunities, fun runs, early morning parking lot parties, end of the month meet and eat, dress down days and good behavior celebrations to name a few. Participants will walk away with strategies, resources, and interactive activities to improve school climate.

Evidence

Compelling empirical research shows that a positive and sustained school climate promotes students’ academic achievement and healthy development as well as teacher retention, which itself enhances student achievement. Climate survey data have been used for the past four years that are comprehensive in two ways: (1) recognizing student, parent, and personnel voice (perceptions) and (2) teachers, students and parents experiences in the building. Measuring and assessing school climate is a challenge in high poverty schools because students and their families move many times throughout a student’s school career. Often times stakeholders providing feedback are new and may not have enough positive experiences to rate the school fairly. That is why positive climates in high poverty schools are so important to any school’s success. We strive to be more transparent and share data collected with parent leadership teams (Title 1 Parent Action Team, PTO, and School Council) in our building as well as the community. Volunteers complete mid-year and end of the surveys. We use our Positive Behavior data, character education data, student and staff data, leadership data, parents attending Lunch and Learn sessions and parent information night surveys as guiding next steps. Stakeholders’ voices have changed the way we do school business and what’s best for kids.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Traci M. Jackson has served as a Title 1 Principal in the Houston County School District for the past 13 years. She has presented and facilitated professional learning workshops for teachers and school leaders. Dr. Jackson has served on numerous District committees and panels. Under her leadership, Shirley Hills Elementary has received State and National Awards including being named a 2011 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the United States Department of Education and Georgia Department of Education. Shirley Hills Elementary has also been named a 2012, 2013, and 2014 Highest Performing Georgia Reward School by the Georgia Department of Education. Dr. Jackson was one of seven principals in the United States to receive the 2011 Terrell Bell Award for School Leadership from the United States Department of Education and National Association of Elementary School Principals and was named as a 2012 Georgia Distinguished Principal by Georgia Association of Educational Leaders. Shirley Hills was also named a 2011 Honorable Mention High Flying School by the National Youth at Risk and won First Place in the Poster Presentation Contest during 2013 NYAR Conference.

Keyword Descriptors

relationships, safety, voice, choice, experiences, connectedness, expectations

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 5:30 PM

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Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM Mar 3rd, 5:30 PM

Culture Shock: Electrifying School Climate Without Pulling the Plug!

Harborside Center East and West

Administrators in high poverty schools work diligently to maximize student achievement and retain effective teachers. Mandates and initiatives make this a daunting task pushing leaders to think outside the box. Unlike the weather, school climate can be controlled using variables that work. Participants will walk away with a purpose, perspective and power source for electrifying school climate. Climate Matters!