An analysis of California School Climate Survey data from school staff shows that supportive working conditions for teachers and teacher relationships with each other are related to school climate and student academic performance. The results suggest that providing teachers opportunities to engage in healthy, productive collegial relationships supports a positive school climate, improves conditions for learning for students, and improves student academic achievement.
Educator wellbeing provides the foundation for the overall wellness of educators, students, and the school community. In this brief, we describe how educator wellbeing is impacted by school climate and culture, educators’ own social and emotional competencies and self-care strategies, and individual histories of trauma and crisis. The brief focuses on a wide range of strategies for educators and school leaders to promote and support educator wellbeing, provides examples of successful implementation of educator wellbeing practices in California school districts, and includes resources to bolster supports for educators.
Mindfulness practices cultivate attention to one’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, and how they affect one’s actions. Mindfulness is a promising approach to teaching educators and students self-awareness and self-regulation skills associated with success in school and through adulthood. It can be taught as standalone strategies for teachers’ own benefit and/or for use with students, and can be integrated into existing school structures and routines.
Research has linked mindfulness-based practices with outcomes indicative of a positive school climate and academic improvement, including:
- Cultivation of compassion and empathy
- Increased well-being, positive emotion, popularity, and friendship
- Improved self-regulation
- Reduced test anxiety
- Increased student focus and concentration on cognitive tasks in the classroom
- Improvement in reading competence
This brief describes the benefits of mindfulness for teachers and students, and shares ideas for integrating mindfulness throughout the school day, identifying evidence-based mindfulness programs to match strengths and needs, helping educators implement mindfulness programs and practices, and providing intensive supports for students facing additional challenges.
Effective school climates for students begin with building positive school climates for staff. Staff members need to feel physically and emotionally safe, a sense of collegiality based on caring, trust, and mutual high expectations, and that they are meaningfully involved in school decision-making.
This What Works Brief recommends activities for improving school environments for staff members across four major research-based strategies:
- Supporting new staff members
- Fostering positive, collegial relationships among staff
- Supporting staff members’ social and emotional competencies
- Implementing reliable systems of student discipline and support