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School Climate and Culture

School Climate and Culture

School climate is an overarching term used to describe students’ and educators’ experience in a school. According to the US Department of Education, a positive school culture fosters safety, promotes a positive academic, disciplinary and physical environment, and encourages trusting and caring relationships between adults and students. Positive school culture is related to higher rates of attendance, graduation and achievement. At OSSE, we believe that in order for students to learn, both adults and students must feel safe and cared for. To increase educator capacity in building a stronger school culture, we use a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) approach to organize interventions into three tiers that support educators and students.

At OSSE, our team offers trainings, resources and technical assistance through the tiered approach in the following focus areas: trauma, restorative justice, positive behavioral interventions and supports, social-emotional learning, and equity. Our trainings are for classroom teachers, student support teams, deans, coaches and administrators who want to improve school climate. Choose an icon below to learn more about our focus areas and sign up for upcoming trainings.

School Climate and Culture Resource PageSchool Climate and CultureSchool Climate and CultureSchool Climate and CultureSchool Climate and Culture

What are Multi-Tiered Systems of Support?

A Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) is a three-tiered public health prevention framework that can be used to navigate the current reality whether it is through remote, blended, or non-blended schedule. The framework organizes interventions into three tiers based on the intensity of need. The critical components of this approach include a focus on evidence-based interventions, data-based decision making, problem-solving protocols, and a team-based approach. The three tiers of support allow states, districts and schools to strategically align their support to match the needs of students using data and resources available (Freeman, Miller, & Newcomer, 2015). MTSS encourages data-driven decision making for establishing social-emotional culture and behavioral supports needed for a school to be an effective learning environment, and to determine how and when support intensifies with each tier. Two examples of MTSS include Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Response to Intervention (RTI).

What is PBIS?

According to the Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, PBIS is an evidence-based three-tiered framework for improving and integrating all of the data, systems, and practices affecting student outcomes every day. It is a way to support everyone to create the kinds of schools where all students are successful. PBIS is a commitment to addressing student behavior and educator mindset through systems change. When it’s implemented well, students achieve improved social and academic outcomes, schools experience reduced exclusionary discipline practices, and school personnel feel more effective. At OSSE, our team offers trainings on how to implement PBIS in your classroom, school, or district using the implementation cycle.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Training and Resources
Resource: Supporting a Safe & Predictable Recovery
Tier 3 - Few Asynchronous Training: Functional Behavior Assessments: An Overview and a Bridge to Function-Based Positive Behavior Support Plans
Resource: Preventing Restraint and Seclusion in Schools
Tier 2 - Some Asynchronous Training: Building Systems and Using Data to Support Tier 2 Interventions - Part 1 | Part 2 | Resources
Resource: Adapting Check-In Check-Out
Tier 1 - All Asynchronous Training: Positive Behavior Supports for the Virtual Classroom | Virtual Classroom Resources
Resource: Creating a PBIS Behavior Matrix

What is Response to Intervention?

Response to Intervention (RtI) is a school-based, multi-level prevention system of identification and intervention for students at academic or behavioral risk. Find out more about OSSE’s work with RTI and Student Support.

What are Trauma-Informed approaches?

Trauma-Informed Care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, respecting and appropriately responding to the effects of trauma at all levels. Trauma-Informed Care emphasizes physical, psychological and emotional safety for students and educators while promoting environments of healing and recovery rather than practices that may inadvertently re-traumatize. Trauma-Informed Care calls for a change in organizational culture, where an emphasis is placed on understanding,

  • Trauma - A shocking experience that poses a real or perceived threat to life or safety.
  • ACES - A quantifiable way to understand toxic/chronic stress. Adverse childhood experiences are potentially traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being. These experiences range from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse to parental divorce or incarceration of a parent or guardian.
Trauma-Informed Trainings and Resources
Resource: Building a Trauma Sensitive School
Tier 3 - Few Training: Trauma Informed Care-Advanced Training
Resource: Psychological First Aid for Schools
Tier 2 - Some Training: Coping with Secondary Impact of Trauma
Resource: Educator Wellness Workbook
Tier 1 - All


Training: Trauma Informed Care an Introduction
Resource: WISE Wellbeing YouTube Channel
Resource: Trauma Informed Resources

Register for OSSE’s upcoming trainings

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) encompasses many aspects of the whole child and adult. Through SEL, adults and children can learn to manage emotions, show compassion for others, maintain positive relationships, and make positive decisions. According to the Collaboration for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), there are five components of social-emotional learning in classrooms, schools and communities. They include self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, relationship skills, and social-awareness. These topics should be embedded through a curriculum and also through school-wide practice and policies.

At OSSE, we work to increase teacher capacity in SEL by offering trainings that develop both the adult and student social-emotional competence through a culturally responsive lens. Please join us at one of our trainings below to enhance your SEL skills.

Social-Emotional Learning Trainings and Resources
Resource: Implementing SEL at Every Tier
Tier 3 - Few Resource: Self-Monitoring to Build Self-Awareness
Tier 2 - Some Training: Mindfulness as a Mental Health Support
Resource: Culture of Care Webinar Series
Tier 1 - All
Training: Educator Wellness and SEL
Resource: SEL Discussion Series
Resource: Teaching Conflict Resolution Skills

Register for OSSE’s upcoming trainings

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice is a culture and set of practices that engage a community in building relationships and repairing harm through mutual, inclusive dialogue, understanding, and cooperation. A whole-school approach to Restorative Justice is more than a set of interventions aimed at students, but rather a way of being that touches all members of the school community and their relationships with each other.

Restorative Justice Trainings and Resources
Resource: Restorative Practices: Fostering Health Relationships
Tier 3 - Few Training: RJ and In-School Suspension
Tier 2 - Some Training: RJ, Mental Health and SEL
Resource: Trauma-Informed Restorative Discipline
Tier 1 - All Training: Virtual Community Building Circles
Resource: Whole School Implementation Guide

Register for OSSE’s upcoming trainings

Why focus on Equity?

Equity in education refers to all students receiving the same caliber of education regardless of their race, ethnicity, economic status, special education status or other factors. Now more than ever we are called as educators to ensure that our schools illuminate and eliminate barriers for students furthest from opportunity to succeed. This work is inextricably tied to school climate and culture as we build environments that are physically, emotionally and psychologically safe and affirming for all students. Through critical reflections of data, leveraging student voice, and culturally responsive approaches, educators can increase equity in their school systems.


  • Equity Through a Data Lens
  • The “I” in Implicit Bias
  • Multi-Level Interventions to Reduce Disproportionality
  • Culturally Responsive Instruction
  • Becoming Culturally Responsive Book Study

Register for OSSE’s upcoming trainings