Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Shannon Moss
Last updated: September 25, 2019
The purpose ofthis chapter is to elaborate the basic understanding and frameworks of schoolclimate and trust. Thus, the section hasaddressed basic contents like conceptual understandings of the terms;illustrations on the relationship between trust, school climate and academicachievement; school climate and trust as research areas; dimensions of schoolclimate and trust; barriers that affect healthy school climate and trust andstrategies for improving unhealthy climate and restoring broken trust. Besidesto these, it has sketched conceptual frameworks for school climate, trust,academic achievement and their indicators. These frameworks are the backbonesof the paper in guiding how to frame or structure the findings. The practices ofleadership in schools are not totally unique from leadership of otherinstitutions. It has both common anddistinctive features that need the roles of the principals to practicedemocratic process.
Especially in schools, the potential for the principal toexercise significant personal power are considerable. Thus, by virtue ofher/his office, the principal has to be a nodal agent connecting the school andthe community, government and the school management, the management and thestaff, the teachers and the parents in a democratic way being the mostimportant individual in developing an atmosphere of positive and trustworthyschool climate (Joshi, 1979 cited in Ramani, 2013; Hallam et al., 2009;West-Burnham, n.
d.; Sidhu, 2015). The atmosphere ofpositive school climate and trust influences the social interactions between principals and teachers,students and teachers, principals and community, teachers and parents invarious ways since “trust is the chicken soup of social life” (Uslaner, 2012,p.1). Thus, it is important to have positive climate and optimal trust amongpartners. Optimal Trust (Luthans, 2011) occurs when principals and teachersreach on consensus where trust is counter balanced with mistrust as there isalways at least few degrees of suspicion in leadership affairs. The concerns, interests to study and worriesabout school climate emanated from the main questions of how does it affect theschool leadership, why is school climate important, and how does it influencestudents’ achievement? Marshall (2004) has come with researchfindings on the effects of school climate on the school community.
According tohis abridge, a positive school climate is a means for fewerbehavioural and emotional problems for students; can shape the degree ofacademic success and enrichment of school environment. Basedon the multiple advantages of this complex concept on school community,researchers are exhaustively investing their expertise, time, energy and moneyon carrying out researches on school climate. The term school climate has been a concern for more than a hundred yearsto understand the idea of school environment or contextual factors that mighthave impact on students learning and academic success (Smith et al., 2014;Thapa et al., 2013). According to theirreports, for the last three decades there have been growing researches tosubstantiate the importance of a healthy school climate in enhancing academicachievement, promoting school safety, reducing dropout, avoiding teacherturnover, installing healthy social interactions and keeping well-being ofschool community. Likewise, Marshall (2004) reported, “School climate has beenresearched for many years and continues to be examined and redefined as aresult of its significant influences on educational outcomes” (p.1).
Manyresearchers have approached the climate of the school or personality of schoolin different ways and looked it in a variety of methods because climate of the schoolis a temperament that expresses the personality of the school. It was around 108 years back that the areagot attention and researchers explicitly wrote about how school climate affectsstudents and the process of teaching (Cohen et al., 2009). Dewey (1927) (citedin Cohen et al., 2009) had discussed school climate indirectly as his focus wason the social dimensions of school life and enhancing the skills, and knowledgethat implicitly touched on what kind of environment or climate the schoolreflects. According to Rapti (2012), the studies ofschool climate have their origin in the late 1950s and Andrew Halpin and DonCroft published the first research results on school climate in 1963. This was the time where the concept of schoolclimate was formulated, and the research findings became the basis of researchfor others in the area and era. Thus, for Rapti (2012),school climate started to be perceived as the “sum of the values, cultures and safety practices”(p.
112). Researchers have come toconsensus on what basically constitutes school climate and considered itmetaphorically as ‘heart and soul’ (Freiberg and Stan, 1999, cited in Rapti,2012) to highlight its importance in giving life to school. Similarly, forMarshall (2004), it is “organizational structure within a school, teachingpractices, diversity, leader-teacher relationships, teacher-teacherrelationships, parent-teacher relationships, and student-teacher relationships,is the concept of school climate” (p.1).
Marshall (2004) emphasized the need forincluding numerous measures of school climate as their examination results andattributes can provide further detail into the nature of school climate. Thus, it has been reminded that schoolclimate survey shall address measures on students’ perceptions on areas offairness, achievement, motivation, order and discipline, parents’ involvement,sharing of resources, student interpersonal relationships and students-teacherrelationships (ibid). The Charles F.
Kettering Ltd. (CFK) (1987)school climate profile cited in Marshall (2004) comprised of othercategorizations of measures focusing on teachers, administrators, and students. Thus, it has addressed the subscales of respect, trust, high morale& opportunity for input, continuous academic & social growth,cohesiveness, school renewal and caring. On the other areas of measuring school climate, Hoy et al. (1991) consideredthe six dimensions or subtests of the Organizational Climate Description forElementary Schools (OCDQ-RE) with 42 items or statements as SupportivePrincipal Behaviour, Directive Principal Behaviour, Restrictive Principal Behaviour,Collegial Teacher Behaviour, Intimate Teacher Behaviour, and Disengaged TeacherBehaviour as indicators or measures for school climate. Tschannen-Moran (2006), on the other hand hasgrouped the school climate indicators (consisting of 28 items) that researchersneed to focus on as Collegial Leadership, Teachers Professionalism, AcademicPress and Community Engagement. This categorization of measures or indicatorsof school climate has been the base for this research as well.
The terms schoolclimate and school culture are frequently used interchangeably, and theirdifferences are still blurred to some researchers (Rapti, 2012). However, the twoterms are basically different though both of them identify specific concepts inan organization. Commonly, culture bases itself on assumptions and ideology andthe climate targets perceptions of behaviours. These differences have been summarized in Table 2.1 (Rapti, 2012, p.
114; Michigan StateUniversity, 2004, p. 5). Researches arestill going on what actually determines the healthiness of the schoolclimate.
This is because of themultifaceted nature of the concept, its significance and influence oneducational outcomes (Marshall, 2004; Loukas, 2007). Some of the potential elements that have comeas factors that influence school climate may include frequency and quality ofinteraction, feelings of trust and respect, perception of school environment,school building and size, instructional materials, academic performance,safety, etc. These kinds of feelings,perceiving as a positive school climate affects everyone associated with theschool: students, teachers, principals, parents, and the community at large.However, it is generally accepted that principals can change the climate of theschool either positively or negatively (Smith et al., 2014) and their strategydepends on the existing characteristic of the school that can be manifested byprincipals, teachers and history of the school.The main query ofwhy a healthy school climate matter has got an answer with clear direction.Doctor (1997), has also summarized these benefits of healthy school climate andlinked them with academic achievement, high morale, staff productivity andeffective management.
Garduno et al. (2009) affirmed thatincrement of schools is affected by negative school climate, authoritarianprincipalship, and low interest and participation of principals and teachers instudent learning. Moriba and Edwards (2009) expressed thatschool climate is a key-determining factor for the successful teaching-learningenvironment.
Thus, it is not an easy task of the principals in securing healthyschool environment, which demands commitment, competency and sense ofresponsibility among the school community. That is why employers are alwayshunting experienced and highly qualified principals having demonstratedconceptual, human and ethical skills in school management (ibid). According toTschannen-Moran (2014), the health of a school community actually depends onthe principal.Doctor (1997) and Marshall (2004) have come withstrategies that can help in developing healthy school environment whichincludes, community participation, promotion of moral values, introduction ofanti-bullying acts, securing safe, conflict and violence free schoolenvironment, use of peer education, fair, equal and respectful treatment ofstudents and staff, trust and cohesiveness.Overall, theresearcher has tried to capture the views of different researchers in definingthe climate of school. The researcher viewed school climate as shared feelingsand perceptions which can gear the interaction of students, colleagues,principals, parents and vice versa about their school environment beinghealthy, good, positive, secured; otherwise being unhealthy, bad, negative orunsecured which can be used interchangeable in this report based on the contextof the presentation and interpretation.
School climate has different dimensions,as it is a multi-dimensional construct. The quality of school climate thusdepends on the interface of these dimensions which include quality of interaction- personality of school, environmental factors, academic performance, safetyand school size, trust and respect (Doctor, 1997). According to Rapti (2012) and Doctor (1997), school climate hasmulti constructs of physical, social and academic dimensions that are: a. Physical Dimension / Physical Environment: these are physical factors related to theschool building and classrooms, the size of the school and the students-teacherratio, the organization of classes in the school, the effectiveness of thetools and teaching resources, security and safety. b.
Social Dimension / Emotional Environment: includes the quality of interpersonalrelationships of all members of school community, treatment of students byteachers and other staff members, degree of competition and social comparisonamong students, participation and contribution of students, teachers and schoolstaff in decision making process. Doctor (1997) put remarks on the social andemotional dimensions of schools as students are accepted and welcomed, positive behaviour is modelledby staff, students and staff are treated with respect and dignity, individual differencesin students and staff are respected, parents and community members are welcomed in theschool, students are actively involvedin school activities, and the school has a visionand mission statement. c. Academic Dimension /Teaching-Learning Environment: this dimension includes key elements on thequality of teaching, teachers’ expectations for students’ achievement,monitoring of the students’ progress and immediate reporting of results tostudents and parents.The healthiness of theacademic or learning environment can be checked using the following annotationsas Doctor (1997) has enumerated in terms of academic dimension as: high and appropriate expectations are inplace for all students, learning is perceived as interesting, relevant, andimportant, students are expected to learn and grow based on their individualabilities and skill.A positive schoolclimate is the resultant of the interplay between the different dimensions ofschool climate. These broad dimensionswith their specific indicators make a flow where one gives emergence andstrength to the other thereby leading to the ultimate goal of academic andsocial growth.
However, the dimension ofschool climate which has been considered as inputs for the conceptual frameworkof this study has been presented in the following section. Thapa et al. (2013) have come with their own dimensions of school climate consisting of 12 measures.This has been demonstrated in Table 2.2.In this paper, the dimension of school climate is viewed based on thereview of Hoy et al.
(2003) andTschannen-Moran et al. (2006) as: 1. Collegial Leadership: is the leadership practiced in schools andit is directed both towards meeting the social needs of the school communityand achieving the goals of the school. The principal treats teachers asprofessional colleagues, is open, democratic, and friendly, but at the same timesets clear standards of performance. If these are observed in the leadership,we can understand and consider it as collegial leadership. 2. Professionalism/Professional Teacher Behaviour: is concerned more on the teacher’sprofessional integrity marked by respect for collegial competence, commitmentto students, autonomous judgment, and mutual cooperation and support. 3.
Academic Press/Achievement/: is entertained under academic freedom whichdescribes a school that sets high but achievable academic standards and goals.Students persist, strive to achieve, and are respected by each other andteachers for their academic success. Parents, teachers, and the principal exertpressure for high standards and school improvement. 4. Community Engagement /Institutional Vulnerability/: is the extent to which there is highcommunity participation or involvement. Hence, the researcher is more concerned aboutsocial and academic environment of the schools where he conceptualized the roadmap of this study based on the concepts of Hoy et al. (2003) andTschannen-Moran et al.
(2006) as indicated in Table 2.3. These four dimensionsof school climate and their relationship have been sketched for this study asindicated in figure 2.
2 in a diagrammatical way.