Thursday, October 11, 2012

An Exclusive Interview with Dr. Jonathan Cohen: Cofounder and President National School Climate Center (formerly the Center for Social and Emotional Education)

 By: Staff, Living Education eMagazine


LEeM: What is school climate? Is it really something one can see and touch?

Dr. Cohen: The National School Climate Council suggests that school climate refers to the quality and character of school life. School climate is based on patterns of students and also parents and teacher’s experiences. It really reflects the norms, what are our goals we have when we come into school everyday. What are our values? How do we listen and treat each other? How are we as teachers and learners and all the other things that go into making us feel safe and supported and engaged and challenged or not.

LEeM: Is it really something one can see and touch?

Dr. Cohen: What is amazing about school climate today is, we can measure it. In a very simple way with a survey. We can get a read on how the kids and or how the parents, guardians, teachers, and even how the community members feel about what is working or not in our schools.  That data can be like a flash light. It can point us in a direction of where we need to go to make things even better in our schools. That is really neat.

LEeM: It has been stated there is no one size fits all method for creating a positive school climate, but in your opinion are there a few core factors when present enhances the likelihood of a positive school climate?

Dr. Cohen: I agree with the assertion of your question. There is no one way that works for all schools. Every single school has its own unique history, experiences, and unique community strengths, needs and goals. However, it is important to note, that any meaningful school reform honors that and in a basic way. Exactly as you are saying, it is really grounded in the uniqueness of each school community, but there are I think a number of organizing principal that are really helpful for every community

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