Summit on School Climate and Culture

On August 13 -14, over 50 Ames CSD staff attended the 3rd Annual Summit on School Climate and Culture. The event is put on by Des Moines Public Schools and “is designed help educators improve school climate and culture through professional development, skill building and application of best practices and research.” The event allows educators to “engage with leading experts in education and school improvement on how a positive school climate and culture is key to student, school and district improvements.”

Director of Student Services Dr. Anthony Jones, said, “The Summit is important for us because I believe the topics (Climate, Culture, Inclusion, and Equity) discussed there address a missing piece of professional learning for our district’s success.”

The summit is defined by 6 major topics in education: Best Practices in Improving School Climate, Multi-Tiered System of Supports, Cultural Proficiency, Social, Emotional and Physical Health, Stakeholder Engagement, and Leadership.

The summit had sessions on current research and best practices in improving and maintaining positive school climate, creating equitable outcomes for all students, addressing the social, emotional, and physical health of students, and the role leaders play in fostering a positive school climate and culture.

Dr. Jones said, “In Ames, we had been receiving a lot of training on the structural things (PLC, MTSS, etc.), but up until now we had not received training on how to create a culture of trust and autonomy (freedom, independence) for all students.” Here were some of his many takeaways from the Summit:

  1. Many of the oppressions our most vulnerable and historically marginalized students experience are found in our school policies, procedures, and practices.
  2. We can’t teach someone math, literacy, science, social studies, etc whom the world has told is worthless!
  3. Educators must be liberated and express their passion in their teaching and therefore release their students to do the same. Effective pedagogy should lead to freedom!