Center for Urban Education

Strategy 6. Foster a Positive School Racial Climate

Many schools work to build a positive climate, but studies consistently show that students of different races experience the school environment differently, with Black and Latinx youth reporting lower perceptions of the school environment than their peers. It is important for schools to be mindful of race-based disparities in school climate perceptions and consider how the policies, programs, practices, and interactions in the school may affect students differently. In thinking about school climate interventions, schools can pay particular attention to the dynamics of cross-racial interpersonal interactions among students and teachers, overall race relations in the school, the degree to which racial stereotypes may be perpetuated, fairness in the implementation of practices and policies, support through the creation of supportive spaces for students who may feel marginalized, and inclusive racial representation in the curriculum. This requires a collaborative approach and systemic planning to ensure that all stakeholders (i.e., students, staff, and families) are heard and engaged in helping to foster a positive school racial climate. Below are strategies to assist schools with integrating practices that promote a positive school racial climate.

  • Collect, analyze, and use data from families to get their input and increase cultural responsiveness of teaching and learning in the school. 
  • Create “identity safe” classrooms--classrooms in which all students are treated as welcomed, valued, and contributing members of the class. This can be done face-to-face or through remote learning. Setting up virtual “hangouts” for students to come and chat with a trusted adult can be beneficial to continuing to build rapport outside of school.
  • Infuse the curriculum with material from diverse groups so that students can see themselves and other populations represented in the curriculum (e.g., new authors, new historical material).
  • Work to eliminate stereotypes and prejudice by intentionally and actively working to reduce prejudice and stereotyping of students and families in the school such as through the inclusion of an explicitly antiracist curriculum and open conversations about race and racism.
  • Provide wise critical feedback accompanied by the wise assurance of students’ potential to reach a higher standard to bolster minority adolescents’ school trust and improve their academic behavior in response to critical feedback.

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