Community Matters Blog

Read our blog posts below by Rick Phillips, Executive Director, staff members and guest bloggers, as they discuss the issues of bullying, cyberbullying and school climate.

School Climate

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 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.

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.

How School Staff Can Improve Climate and Discipline
March 17 2014

How School Staff Can Improve Climate and Discipline

We now have enough evidence to know that when schools make climate a priority and the staff see themselves as educators and role models who make hall-friendly behavior their practice, schools can be safer places where effective teaching and learning take place.

Happy 13th Anniversary!: Safe School Ambassadors First Ever Program Launch
January 6 2014

Happy 13th Anniversary!: Safe School Ambassadors First Ever Program Launch

I am writing this blog on the 13th anniversary of the first ever Safe School Ambassadors program ever launched. On December 13 and 14, 2000, three of our local high schools attended a two-day training conducted by Rick Phillips and Chris Pack for a brand new program they called Safe School Ambassadors (SSA).

Auditing Your School Climate: The First Step to Achieving Safer and High Performing Schools
December 5 2013

Auditing Your School Climate: The First Step to Achieving Safer and High Performing Schools

It’s no secret that the responsibilities of school administrators have increased significantly. Challenged every day to fulfill the core mandates of getting students to attend school, keeping them safe, improving academic performance, and achieving higher graduation rates, they also have to comply with ever-expanding laws and imperatives to address bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment and discrimination. What we know is that all the above expectations can be best achieved by focusing first and foremost on School Climate. Click here to read the rest of the article...

The Cost of School Suspensions: It’s Higher Than You Think! - Part 1
November 8 2013

The Cost of School Suspensions: It’s Higher Than You Think! - Part 1

In the wake of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado in 1999, the primary reaction by district officials was to beef up security, establish higher control procedures, institute “zero tolerance” policies and increase student suspensions.

Yet anyone who’s been following the research knows that these control-oriented school discipline policies have taken a high toll on student graduation rates and increased costs for schools across the nation. And the amount of those costs are even higher than previously considered. Click here to read the rest of the article...

National Bullying Prevention Month - A Call to Action: 5 Things You Can Do to Improve School Climate
October 8 2013

National Bullying Prevention Month - A Call to Action: 5 Things You Can Do to Improve School Climate

Improving the school climate may seem like a daunting task, but the truth is each of us can and do impact climate, whether we intend to or not. We can all do that in a more intentional way by making a commitment to initiate positive interactions with each other. It is these small acts, when done consistently over time, and with a focus on relationships, that we begin the change process. Read the rest of this article...

Waking Up Courage in Students – It Works!
September 25 2013

Waking Up Courage in Students – It Works!

Adults make the rules, but the students set the norms on a school campus.  So how can we, as adults, empower students to positively impact the school climate?  For the past 12 years, Community Matters has begun this change process through our flagship program Safe School Ambassadors. Read the rest of this article...

School Climate: The Antidote To The Bullying Epidemic
September 17 2013

School Climate: The Antidote To The Bullying Epidemic

If what we want from our schools is to have them develop and “produce” students who are capable, connected and contributing citizens, then school climate must be the foundation from which we begin.

Improving school climate is all about putting people first and recognizing the power of relationships. When school climate is seen as valuable as academic performance, discipline issues decrease and test scores go up. Read the rest of this article...

School Safety: Why Focusing on Security is Not Enough
September 5 2013

School Safety: Why Focusing on Security is Not Enough

Metal detectors can’t keep out prejudice and zero tolerance policies don’t control student behavior when adults aren’t around. Check any news outlet on any given day, and you’ll see the proof that peer-to-peer mistreatment continues to permeate our schools, sometimes driving our children to unimaginable consequences. Read the rest of this article...

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