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Working with colleagues improves your school’s climate

Jennifer Maio teaches English at Lakeview Junior High School, Dracut.

Jennifer MaioAs a new teacher, it can be daunting to take the first steps toward improving or maintaining your school climate. The key is to find colleagues who are as passionate (or even more passionate) than you.

Make it about the students
Find ways to focus on the positive things students do as a way to begin the process of improving school climate. I work with my team of teachers to recognize students who have demonstrated positive behaviors in and out of the classroom. Each week we choose two students of the week and give them certificates and homework passes. We also post short bios of the student in our hallway display case. 

The way you teach matters!
Respectful teaching practices also improve school climate. Working in a team-based school provides me with the opportunity to collaborate to create cross-curricular units. Work with your colleagues to develop rich units that incorporate more than one subject to show your students that you care about them. You are taking the time to teach them in a way that is engaging and connects two or more content areas.

Don’t work on a team? It is still possible!
You can still find colleagues to work with when you do not work in a team-based school. Seek out the staff member who leads the peer leadership group or another club that is making the effort to better the school climate and talk with him or her to find out how you can be more involved. Many of the specialist teachers (art, music, technology, library and consumer science) are willing to pair up with another teacher to create an interdisciplinary unit.