Spotlight: Caring Environments for Students and Teachers
This month WestEd is highlighting how educators are creating and working to create positive, safe, and comfortable environments for both students and teachers.
Caring environments encompass a wide range of initiatives that work in tandem to ensure students’ and teachers’ needs are met.
Check out these tips and accompanying resources designed to inform planning for your school, district, or state.
Prioritize self-care to lessen or prevent stress and burnout.
Cultures of care contribute to a positive school climate for both students and teachers. View this archived webinar to learn about effective techniques that leaders and staff can use to motivate and sustain collective and self-care throughout the school year, such as practicing mindfulness and cultivating a sense of gratitude.
Build strong relationships to keep teachers motivated and students engaged.
According to California Safe and Supportive Schools’ What Works Brief: Caring Relationships & High Expectations:
“High–quality interpersonal relationships keep teachers motivated to be innovative and inspiring. These relationships also keep students engaged in learning. In fact, the quality of relationships at the school is among the strongest known predictors of both student academic achievement and teachers’ career satisfaction (Hattie, 2009; Grayson & Alvarez, 2008).”
A focus on relationship-building has proven successful for Chula Vista Elementary School District’s (CVESD) improvement efforts. Read We Shake Hands at the Door to learn why, as one CVESD site leader says, “You can’t educate [students’] minds until you’ve reached their hearts.”
Create a diverse and culturally responsive teacher workforce to inspire learning.
Recent research indicates a diverse and culturally responsive workforce can benefit not only students of color but all learners.
WestEd’s Saroja Warner coauthored CCSSO’s A Vision and Guidance for a Diverse and Learner-Ready Teacher Workforce, a guidance and vision paper that presents detailed guidelines for growing and sustaining a diverse workforce. Read the paper to learn what a diverse and culturally responsive workforce looks like from the perspectives of both students and teachers.
Learn and implement trauma-informed practices.
The experience of trauma is something students can’t automatically turn off when they enter the classroom. That’s why it helps both students and teachers when teachers and other school staff are able to identify signs of trauma and have support and resources to respond.
Place a high value on social and emotional learning (SEL).
The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning defines SEL as “the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
The national Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety at WestEd helps states integrate evidence-based SEL and school safety practices and programs to support students’ success. Learn about the Center’s free resources and technical assistance.
Rethink disciplinary practices.
Traditional disciplinary measures such as suspension and expulsion have few or no proven positive effects on student safety or learning. Many schools and districts are exploring restorative justice as a promising alternative.
Restorative Justice in U.S. Schools: An Updated Research Review describes restorative justice as encompassing “a growing social movement to institutionalize non-punitive, relationship-centered approaches for avoiding and addressing harm, responding to violations of legal and human rights, and collaboratively solving problems.” Read this updated research review.
Ensure all students feel welcomed.
A recent report, written by WestEd’s BethAnn Berliner, presents fresh ideas that can benefit all educators, especially those who work with immigrant and refugee students.
Read the research on bullying and school safety.
Read our recent Insights blog to learn about current trends in bullying, challenges to prevention, and where to access promising evidence-based policies and practices.
Watch this 90-minute webinar to learn about steps state and local leaders are taking to prevent school violence.
Additional Resources & Services
Posted on October 16, 2019