Teachers' perceptions of school climate: Implications for professional development




Lozano, Lucy Anne

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Teachers' perceptions of school climate influence attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that directly impact the teaching and learning environment. The purpose of this formative research study was to assess urban teachers' perceptions about school climate, and their perceived level of preparedness' to respond to school violence.

The following research questions were used to guide the study: (1) What perceptions do teachers have about school climate? (2) What do teachers believe parents, administrators, students, and the community can do to improve the school climate? (3) How do teachers rate their level of preparedness to respond to school violence? (4) What would help teachers feel more confident about their ability to respond to school violence?

A convenience sample consisting of urban Texas teachers with teaching assignments for 2004–2005 was used. The instrument had two components: demographic profile and telephone interview guide. The demographic profile was analyzed descriptively, reported as frequencies and percentages. The telephone interview transcripts were analyzed using qualitative methods. Responses were sorted into categories, category themes identified, and themes translated into statements. The emergent themes in this study that were used to characterize school climate were safety/security, attitudes, environment/atmosphere, professional repertoire, and social interaction. The statements were collapsed into three domains: perceptions/factors that influence school climate, improvements, and readiness to respond to violence or preparedness.

Teachers described the school climate as an environment that had diverse social interactions among stakeholders, and safety was a priority. Teachers believed parents could improve school climate by being more involved in volunteerism within the school. Teachers believed administrators needed to create a supportive atmosphere within the school that fostered open communication, students should have positive and respectful attitudes, and the community could be supportive by volunteering and providing monetary donations to the school.

Since the 911 tragedy, teachers believe that additional measures are needed to improve school climate. The findings indicate that teachers desire training to prepare them to respond to school violence. Thus, the study findings could enhance teacher professional development activities aimed at improving school climate, and the health and safety of the school community.



Education, Professional development, School climate, Teachers, Violence preparedness