This week’s Leadership Column is courtesy of Elliot Flam….

Taking Control of our Climate

According to schoolclimate.org, school climate “refers to the quality and character of school life as it relates to norms and values, interpersonal relations and social interactions, and organizational processes and structures.” We all know how important a positive climate is to ensuring success in schools. From the TABCO teacher perception survey in December to the BCPS Stakeholder Satisfaction Survey conducted in February, a great deal of time and money is spent collecting and reporting valuable information on how students, parents and staff feel about their school experience. The results of these surveys are used by county and school administrators to identify concerns and create a plan for improvement.

While we sometimes get caught up in the stress that comes with the increasing pressures inherent in our jobs, it is important to reflect on the impact each one of us can have on the climate of our school on a day-to-day basis. From the service workers who take pride in the cleanliness of the building, to the front office and clerical staff who warmly welcome all members of the school community, to the cafeteria staff who help ensure that our students receive the nourishment they need. All of these people are integral to our success. Moreover, our puzzle could not be completed without the important pieces who are our coaches, club sponsors, counselors and support staff. Last, but certainly not least, it is the teachers who work countless hours beyond their scheduled school days to create and implement engaging lessons that provide our students with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their future endeavors.

Over the past few years, OMHS has slowly but surely gone through the process of reflecting on “the way things have always been done” to see if our traditions and customs are still relevant. In some cases they are, but in other cases our practices have been in need of change. The level of creativity, commitment and selflessness shown by so many members of the Owings Mills family in responding to this shift in perspective has been truly impressive. Whether you helped to organize a community event (Youth Art Show, Black History Month celebration, Homecoming Festival, etc.), volunteered to assist with school-wide initiatives (dropout prevention, Check and Connect, middle school transition, etc.) or simply “show up” for performances or athletic events to support our students, you are a huge reason our school is on the upswing.

While there is still much work to be done, we should all be proud of the accomplishments we have achieved. Enrollment is up, elective programs are thriving, and student involvement in extracurricular activities such as SGA, athletics and theater are at their highest levels in years. None of this has occurred by accident. These improvements are all as a result of the hard work and dedication exhibited by our teachers, staff and students. Every day we walk in the building, each one of us has the opportunity to leave things better than we found them. In doing so, we all have a chance to positively impact the culture of our school.

*For ideas on how you can continue to have an impact, please read “Climate Control: 6 Ways to Improve Your School Environment” (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/climate-improve-your-school-environment-allen-mendler).

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