Comprehensive School Climate Assessment


Our partner, the Alliance for the Study of School Climate, has one of the best surveys on the market to help schools assess the health of their culture. Administered with focus groups of staff, students, and parents, the comprehensive school climate assessment we offer is a powerful tool for thoughtful planning of culture change.


A school’s culture is a complex mix of individual dispositions and habits, interpersonal dynamics, systems, practices, procedures, and traditions. When viewed as a system of interdependent and interconnected parts, each aspect of a school’s culture contributes to the vast collection of messages that informs students, faculty, and parents daily, and enhances the feeling of well being or lack thereof in the school.

School culture improvement is a multi-year effort that must begin with an analysis of its culture and climate in order to find the best levers to engage in this work. What works best as a starting place is unique to each school’s culture.

The implementation of the Awakening Wisdom program begins with a comprehensive school climate assessment through the School Climate Assessment Inventory (SCAI) developed by the Alliance for the Study of School Climate, to be used with faculty, students, and parents. Developed in 2001, the SCAI is one of the best instruments for measuring school climate, and one of the most reliable in predicting school achievement. Highly successful schools demonstrate these characteristics upon which the SCAI was developed and which are aligned with Awakening Wisdom’s tenets:

  • They are student-centered (e.g., they promote student voice and choice, student well being)
  • They have a culture that is intentional in nurturing a strong sense of belonging in every student
  • There is a strong sense of community spirit and involvement.
  • The culture supports and nurtures autonomy and self-direction in both students and staff.
  • Schools use a set of core principles and values to guide every decision, instead of choosing programs for improvement with no regard to guiding principles.
  • The school is viewed as a system of interrelated and interdependent parts as opposed to parts operating in separate silos.
  • Both administrators and teachers have a positive psychology mentality ( instead of a punitive one) when interacting with each other and with students.

The SCAI results are analyzed for areas of concern. These concerns are called on in the focus groups with students, teachers, and parents to provide deeper insights into the SCAI ratings. For instance, if there is a large discrepancy between teachers’ rating “engaged teaching” as 4.07 (on a 5.0 scale) and students’ rating the same aspect as 2.76, student focus groups would be asked a question like: “What does engaged teaching look like to you?” “Why do you think students rated this a low 2.76 compared to teachers’ rating of 4.07?” These deeper insights inform teachers with specific understandings of what students need to be engaged in the classroom.

The comprehensive school climate assessment report includes the connections between the SCAI ratings and focus group narratives. It also provides action steps and resources to be used in the road map for strategic plan development.

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Professional Development on School Culture Transformation
for Social Emotional Learning


Awakening Wisdom’s professional development program engages school personnel in a three-year effort to transform the culture within the school so that positive transformation can occur to support social emotional well being and learning and be sustained. Six modules clearly demonstrate the correlation between academic achievement and a healthy school culture taught by the “hidden” curriculum of the school. The modules include how to build and support a sense of belonging and a sense of self for trusting relationships, discipline to foster self-regulation, staff culture and collegial relationships for effectiveness, and how to lead in a way that attends to a healthy school culture. The modules may be adapted to the unique needs and culture of each school.


The Awakening Wisdom team co-creates a plan with each school for the first year of deep culture work based on the results of the comprehensive school climate assessment. Together they determine which of the professional development modules is appropriate for the first year of Awakening Wisdom implementation.

The modules offered are:

Module 1: Creating Relationships of Trust

A culture of trust among adults and with students is the foundation for effective teaching and learning. Any school initiative will not be as effective unless a culture of trust is established. This module focuses on nurturing the sense of belonging for individuals and school wide community that engages positive culture change.

Module 2: Nurturing Students’ Identity and Autonomy

Awakening Wisdom promotes student-centeredness to draw forth the unique identity of each student within the context of trusting relationships. This is cultivated through providing as many appropriate opportunities for student choice and voice. When students feel heard, are taken seriously, and have experiences that show they matter, their potential for greatness is enhanced.

Module 3: Creating a Shared Vision

A shared vision is a school’s “North Star.” It is always at the forefront of any decision made, e.g., hiring, curriculum decisions, creating traditions, etc. The vision work in this module centers on the quality of human being that the school envisions as its “North Star.”

The questions asked in this module are:

  • What kind of human being does your school want to develop to support the students, their community, and their world?
  • What are the qualities that the school desires to nurture in all students that lead to fulfilling lives that contribute in positive ways to their world?
  • What principles support the development of these qualities?

Module 4: Developing Relationships with Self and Others

Social emotional learning for students starts with the social emotional learning of the adults. Adult modeling is more powerful than what is taught through lesson plans. Awakening Wisdom supports school staff to grow in the social emotional competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making through its core values, principles, and practices.

Module 5: Social Emotional Learning Through Discipline

Discipline sends impactful messages to all students in a school. Awakening Wisdom helps schools create a consistent school-wide system that teaches the social emotional skills within a context of trust and relationships instead of fear and punishment.

Module 6: Creating Home-School Partnerships

Parents are the primary educators of their children and their influence is much greater than schools. Their interest in the whole child is a strength in developing home-school partnerships for social emotional learning. Awakening Wisdom helps parents to nurture resilience, confidence, and compassion for their child’s well being. Awakening Wisdom helps school personnel in creating supportive relationships with parents to create effective home-school partnerships.

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Leadership Coaching for Facilitating Culture Transformation and Social Emotional Learning


Sound leadership assures the success and efficacy of programs in schools. As part of the three-year effort to transform school culture, Awakening Wisdom includes ongoing leadership coaching to ensure continued culture work after each module in an effort to sustain the transformation.

Parent Education for Home-School Partnership


Awakening Wisdom provides parent education to support parents in learning how to balance love and support with empowering their children to discover their own voice and create their own lives. In addition, developing faculty’s capacity to work supportively with parents is an outcome of one of the professional development modules.

Certificate Course: Implementing A Social Emotional Learning Initiative


In the summer of 2019, Awakening Wisdom will offer an introductory course on social emotional learning by providing a roadmap based on research from the field. This is designed to support administrators as they embark on embedding social emotional learning into their schools.

Get started with Awakening Wisdom in your organization today.