Culture and Climate

What is school culture and climate?

While school “culture” and “climate” are often used interchangeably, these two terms are distinct. They are, however, intertwined; a school cannot address or improve one without examining the other.

School Culture:

  • Is the sum total of the behaviors and interactions of all adults and children, their attitude and norms, and the extent to which the school is safe, supportive, healthy, engaging, inspiring, and challenging for all (New Jersey School Health and Climate Coalition) 
  • Influences all decisions and policies 
  • Is significantly impacted by the leadership style of the school administrator

School climate is the collective perception of how well a school provides suitable conditions for learning.

Schools with a positive climate: 

  • Are places where positive, healthy, and respectful behavior is the norm and the school is well-organized and managed
  • Are places where community-wide priorities, school policies and procedures are driven by positive and shared values such as respect, the importance of staff and student voice, collaboration, fostering success for all students, equity, acceptance
  • Are led by servant leaders committed to inclusive leadership and fostering success, health and well-being of all students and staff

There are many factors that contribute to a positive school culture and climate. More often than not, schools have to examine many of those factors from different perspectives in order to initiate change. The Initiative guides schools through this process offering a multi-faceted approach along with tools and resources to help make the changes sustainable.

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