Community Matters Blog

Read our blog posts below by Rick Phillips, Executive Director and other staff members, along with other content related to the issues of bullying, cyberbullying and school climate.

5 Strategies for Preventing Hazing, Harassment and Bullying in School Athletics
April 14 2015

5 Strategies for Preventing Hazing, Harassment and Bullying in School Athletics

Although we can never be sure exactly where it starts, the culture of sports hazing has been around a long time. One way to describe this phenomena is that it’s behavior modelled by others in a superior positon which I adopt as my own once I have been elevated to that place of superiority or power.

The Pain of Being Bullied – One Student’s Story
March 30 2015

The Pain of Being Bullied – One Student’s Story

It’s likely that at some point in your life, either you or someone close to you has been subjected to the effects of cyberbullying, bullying, hazing or harassment. But nothing hits home more than when it happens to someone you care about.

Community Does Matter – The Longing for Belonging
March 17 2015

Community Does Matter – The Longing for Belonging

The evidence-based Safe School Ambassadors Program (SSA) empowers elementary, middle and high school students to recognize mistreatment when it’s happening, to have the courage and skills to intervene, and to transform it into self-awareness, kindness and compassion.

10 Ways You Can Help Stop Bullying – A Guide for Parents & Teachers
March 2 2015

10 Ways You Can Help Stop Bullying – A Guide for Parents & Teachers

As bullying, cyberbullying and intolerance affect more and more children, it’s increasingly crucial that adults, both parents and teachers, increase their awareness and understanding of how their children interact with each other, both in person and online. Here are some practical steps you can take to better protect the young people in your care.

Restorative Practices: 5 Keys to Successful Implementation - Part 2
February 18 2015

Restorative Practices: 5 Keys to Successful Implementation - Part 2

In Part 2 of this series, in which we are outlining 5 key strategies for successful implementation of Restorative Practices (RP), we will cover:
- Staff Engagement / Overcoming Resistance
- Using Systems Thinking
- Strategic, Incremental Implementation

Restorative Practices: 5 Keys to Successful Implementation - Part 1
February 2 2015

Restorative Practices: 5 Keys to Successful Implementation - Part 1

In this 2-part series we outline 5 key strategies for successful implementation of restorative practices (RP). In this first part we will address the first two:

- Strong Leadership / Leading Restoratively

- Creating a Learning Organization

Making Sense of School Climate - Part 5: Measuring, Collecting and Reporting Data
January 20 2015

Making Sense of School Climate - Part 5: Measuring, Collecting and Reporting Data

There’s no way around it… whether you’re conversant and comfortable with the “ins and outs” of data collection and measurement - or not -  at the end of the day, data drives decisions. That’s why it’s important to understand what the data is illustrating about climate and then to select measures that are easy to collect and simple to explain.

Making Sense of School Climate - Part 4: How to Organize, Implement and Coordinate Your Efforts
January 5 2015

Making Sense of School Climate - Part 4: How to Organize, Implement and Coordinate Your Efforts

One thing for sure is that there is no shortage of plans, lists of to do’s or action steps to be taken when it comes to improving our schools. However, too often those plans don’t ever reach their intended or desired end results. Somewhere between the plan and execution, things break down.

Why? In the 15 plus years we have been assisting schools in school safety and school climate change, we’ve identified some critical missteps...

Making Sense of School Climate and What to Do About It  - Part 3: Gaining Stakeholder Buy-In
December 8 2014

Making Sense of School Climate and What to Do About It - Part 3: Gaining Stakeholder Buy-In

Like most changes in life, even policy changes that have the potential to positively affect school climate will likely be met with at least some level of resistance. It just seems to be human nature to fear and resist change, so effective leaders need to learn to work with the resistance.

Making Sense of School Climate and What to Do About It - Part 2: Climate Assessment
November 17 2014

Making Sense of School Climate and What to Do About It - Part 2: Climate Assessment

A school climate assessment is a step-by-step process that assists school leaders in determining what’s working, what’s not and what’s missing in their current climate efforts. Using a thorough analysis process provides the foundational information necessary for effective planning and implementation of the many climate mandates and initiatives that schools are expected to manage.

Making Sense of School Climate and What To Do About It - Part 1: Moving From Theory to Practice
November 3 2014

Making Sense of School Climate and What To Do About It - Part 1: Moving From Theory to Practice

Once thought of as a second tier focus not on par with academics, school climate is now understood as a fundamental driver for effective learning to occur. Ensuring that a school is committed to having a positive climate starts with the leaders in charge valuing relationships and connectedness as the essential building blocks for developing a safe, positive and high performing school.

Making Sense of School Climate and What To Do About It: A 5 Part Series
October 20 2014

Making Sense of School Climate and What To Do About It: A 5 Part Series

The good news is that there is increased recognition of the value, benefits and effectiveness of implementing school climate improvement plans.

The not so good news is that many administrators and line staff are experiencing overwhelm, frustration and confusion when dealing with the many requirements, mandates and top-down directives that they’re expected to address, all of which can lead to resistance and a significant diminishment in their likelihood of success.

To address both the opportunities and the challenges, we are presenting a five-part series of blogs to provide a clear and compelling climate roadmap for schools to use.

National Bullying Prevention Month: Five Key Actions for Making Schools Safer
October 6 2014

National Bullying Prevention Month: Five Key Actions for Making Schools Safer

As we recognize National Bullying Prevention Month, we can take heart in knowing that shifts are taking place and that many schools are committed to school climate transformation. While there is still much work to be done, more and more schools are taking positive actions to ensure that their students feel welcome, safe and connected.

Students Creating School Climate Improvement
September 18 2014

Students Creating School Climate Improvement

We know we can’t legislate civility nor can we punish children into being more tolerant. The only viable solution to the spread of the bullying virus on school campuses today is to change the social norms that allow it to occur.

7 Outside-the-Box Ideas to Help Fund Your School Safety & Climate Improvement Programs
September 8 2014

7 Outside-the-Box Ideas to Help Fund Your School Safety & Climate Improvement Programs

From the coming and going of the Title IV Safe & Drug-Free Schools funding to President Obama’s latest Now Is the Time initiative that’s partially directed towards school climate improvements, administrators have had to be creatively adept with their budgeting, cutting back in lean times, and cautiously expanding when external funding has become more available and fluid.

Back to School - Setting the Stage for Positive School Climate
August 11 2014

Back to School - Setting the Stage for Positive School Climate

Whether you’ve been waiting expectantly for the first day of school to begin - or you’re shaking your head thinking "Is it that time again?” - one of the first priorities that needs our attention as teachers and administrators is remembering how important it is for our students to feel that school is a kind, inclusive and safe place to learn and grow.

The Power of Community in Influencing School Climate
May 21 2014

The Power of Community in Influencing School Climate

Community as a determinant of school climate is one of the more indirect influences, but it is no less important. It is reflected in the emphasis that the community places on education, and on nurturing the educational and social-emotional well-being of its youth.

Cyberbullying – A New Face on an Old Problem
May 9 2014

Cyberbullying – A New Face on an Old Problem

With the widespread adoption of social media and smartphones by teens and even younger children, bullies have a new playground in which to inflict meanness on their targets: cyberspace.

School Climate and Student Empowerment
April 29 2014

School Climate and Student Empowerment

Students are 90% of a school population, yet they are often underutilized.  Adults often see students as consumers rather than contributors.  If students are part of the problem, we also know that they must be a part of the solution.  At Community Matters we believe that if we can harness their power and potential, we can begin to shift the climate from the inside out.

15 Years After Columbine: How Safe Are our Schools from Bullying and Violence Today?
April 15 2014

15 Years After Columbine: How Safe Are our Schools from Bullying and Violence Today?

Columbine shattered our long held belief that our schools are safe havens for our children. To re-establish our schools as places where all children can feel safe, welcome and included requires courage, leadership and the commitment of each one of us.