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Key Terms and Definitions

Positive School Climate

A positive school climate is foundational to the academic promise of the school and refers to the work of a school community to create a quality experience for all students, staff, and families. This is done by collectively fostering social, emotional, physical academic and identity safety and promoting a supportive academic environment that encourages and maintains respectful, empathetic, and trusting, relationships; resulting in a sense of belonging for all. – Colorado Department of Education

Sense of Belonging 

A sense that one has a rightful place in a given academic setting and can claim full membership in a school and classroom community. - Turnaround for Children

School Safety

School safety is defined as schools and school-related activities where students are safe from violence, bullying, harassment, and substance us. Safe schools promote the protection from violence, exposure to weapons and threats, theft bullying, and the sale of or use of illegal substances on school grounds. – National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments

CDE expands on the definition above to specifically draw attention to different types of safety schools need to consider in creating a safe and supportive learning environment: 

Physical Safety:  the protection from violence, theft, and exposure to weapons and threats, and substance use in order to establish a secure learning environment.              

Social and Emotional Safety: An experience in which one feels safe to express emotions, is free from harassment and bullying, and whose voice is valued and respected.

Identity Safety:  is created when students (and all school stakeholders) are made to feel that their social identity is an asset rather than a barrier to success and where schools are intentional in refuting negative stereotypes, countering stereotype threat, and ensuring that all backgrounds are welcomed, supported, and valued.

Academic Safety: refers to the feelings of security and confidence to take risks academically knowing that failure is part of the learning process. Academic safety allows students to feel challenged and excited to try something new.

Developmental Relationships (in schools): 

Developmental Relationships are bidirectional and involve the close connections through which young people discover who they are, cultivate the abilities to shape their own lives, and learn how to engage with and contribute to the world around them. - The Search Institute

Whole Child Approach:

A Whole Child Approach is defined by policies, practices, and relationships that ensure each child, in each school, in each community, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Within a whole child approach, questions must be raised about school culture and curriculum; instructional strategies and family engagement; critical thinking and social-emotional wellness. -  ASCD

Prevention Science

Prevention Science focuses on the development of evidence-based strategies that reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities. Prevention Science is focused on avoiding negative health and social outcomes (e.g. addiction, academic failure, violence, mental illness) and strengthening conditions that enable individuals, families, and communities to thrive through the promotion of health equity and reduction of disparities. -  National Prevention Science Coalition

Prevention-focused strategies in schools often occur at the Universal tier (tier 1) in a Multi-Tiered System of Support and may include the following:

Social Emotional Learning (SEL): is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. –Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (CASEL)

Trauma Responsive Schools: are schools in which the adults in the school community are prepared to recognize and respond to those who have been impacted by traumatic stress. Those adults include administrators, teachers, staff, and parents. In addition, students are provided with clear expectations and communication strategies to guide them through stressful situations. The goal is to not only provide tools to cope with extreme situations but to create an underlying culture of respect and support. – Trauma Aware Schools.Org

Restorative Practices:  are a whole-school, relational approach to addressing student behavior that fosters belonging over exclusion, social engagement over control, and meaningful accountability over punishment. Its practices replace fear, uncertainty, and punishment as motivators with belonging, connectedness and the willingness to change because people matter to each other. – The Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue

School Physical Health Services: are the health policies and practices in place at a school that provide students with the opportunities to improve dietary and physical activity behaviors and manage and prevent chronic health conditions (asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, food allergies, and poor oral health. - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Equity Lens (in Education):

An equity lens in education requires looking at policies, practices and data with a perspective that results in each child receiving what they need to develop to their full academic and social potential by: ensuring equally high outcomes for all participants in our educational system; removing the predictability of success or failures that currently correlates with any social or cultural factor; interrupting inequitable practices, examining biases, and creating inclusive multicultural school environments for adults and children; and discovering and cultivating the unique gifts, talents and interests that every human possesses. – National Equity Project

Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Education (CLRE): 

CLRE is an approach to education that calls for engaging learners whose experiences and cultures are traditionally excluded from mainstream settings by creating the conditions that allow culturally and linguistically diverse students to have the confidence, competence, and interpersonal skills to master academic content, the ability to apply knowledge and new skills, and the self-motivation that will enable them to be successful. – Aspen Institute