Creating a Positive School Climate for Academic Achievement
Jun 13 2023
Updated at: Jun 13 2023

Creating a Positive School Climate for Academic Achievement: 3 Best Practices

Positive Action Team

Imagine a school where every student, parent, and staff member is treated with warmth and kindness every day. 

A school where the principles of honesty, respect, responsibility, fairness, and kindness are skillfully woven into the fabric of its climate, guiding every interaction and decision to ultimately lead to academic success.

Positive Action’s Curriculums and Programs are designed with the values of Character Education in mind, encouraging students to take ownership of their learning and develop a growth mindset that aids in their academic achievement.

Today, we’re going to dive into the best practices for creating a positive school climate that promotes academic achievement. We will also learn:

  • What is meant by a positive school climate and why it is important for academic achievement
  • Some of the best practices for creating a positive school climate, including building strong relationships, setting clear expectations, and implementing student-centered learning
  • How schools can implement these best practices to create a positive school climate.
  • How Positive Action's curriculum programs align with the best practices in Character Education

Without further ado, let’s go into more detail on how you can create a positive school climate that supports academic success for all your students.

1 - Let Your Students Take the Lead

Student-centered learning is a powerful tool that places the student at the center of the learning process, allowing them to play an active role in their education as they engage in the learning process.

An effective student-centered learning approach uses Character Education to foster positive Character Development in your students that helps them acquire essential life skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication.

For example, if you teach your students to practice the positive action of respect, they are more likely to listen to the opinions of others, collaborate with their peers, and learn from their mistakes.

By teaching your students to practice positive behavior, good decision-making, and how to work effectively with others through Positive Action Curriculums, you are equipping them with the right tools to help them succeed in school and become good citizens later in life.

Here are some examples of student-centered learning practices that your school can implement:

Project-Based Learning 

In project-based learning, you present your students with complex, real-world projects that require them to apply the intellectual positive actions you have taught them, such as critical thinking, active listening, and creativity, to solve these problems on their own.

For example, our High School 3 Kit includes cumulative, creative, hands-on projects that students work on both individually and in groups to provide them with the necessary skills they need to handle challenges and setbacks and to persist in the face of obstacles.

Positive Action's High School 3 Kit

One of the projects in the kit that you can ask your students to work on is planning and executing a health fair.

To accomplish this project, your students will have to:

  • Work as a team and communicate effectively to come up with fun and educative health fair activities
  • Research and organize their resources to ensure that the event is well-coordinated and executed
  • Manage their time effectively and set goals that will keep them focused, and reduce the hurdles that come from being unprepared

The positive character traits such as cooperation, time management, and self-discipline that you have instilled in them through Positive Action’s High School Curriculum, will help them accomplish the project successfully. 

Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry-based learning requires students to ask questions, explore a topic in-depth as they make observations, and draw their conclusions.

Our evidence-based Grade 7 Kits feature a radio drama and talk show concept that can be used as a springboard for inquiry-based learning.

Positive Action's Grade 7 Kit

You simply have to engage your students in discussions and debates around the issues raised in the radio drama and talk show and encourage them to ask questions, make hypotheses, conduct research, analyze data, and draw conclusions. 

For example, you can ask your students to explore the different traits of the fictional characters in the drama and relate them to their own experiences and observations. 

As you can imagine, this program will inspire a deep thirst for learning in your students and foster their curiosity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills which will ultimately aid them in being successful in school and in life.

Student-Led Discussions  

In student-led discussions, students take the lead in class discussions, sharing their thoughts, ideas, and questions.

This cooperative learning strategy maximizes the opportunity for learning and sets the tone for the entire classroom.

Our High School 4 Kit offers a student-led discussion opportunity where you prompt your students to form groups of four to six and teach the lessons from the Positive Actions for Living manual to one another. Each group will have a leader, giving every member an opportunity to lead. 

Positive Action's High School 4 Kit

You only need to supervise and provide guidance, facilitate the mentorship program included in the kit, and monitor the progress of the students.

In addition, peer mentoring is included in which each member of the group is assigned to mentor someone from outside the group and another "mystery mentee." 

By allowing students to lead their own discussions and mentor their peers, they become more invested in the learning process, access leadership development opportunities, and become more confident in their academic abilities.

Action: Incorporate peer-to-peer feedback to help students gain a better understanding of how their actions impact others.

2 - Set Clear Expectations So Everyone Can Play Their Part

Setting clear expectations is fundamental to creating a positive school climate that promotes academic achievement because they provide structure and clarity for students, promote a sense of responsibility and accountability, and encourages a positive learning environment.  

When everyone knows what is expected of them, they can perform their roles and responsibilities more effectively. 

The following strategies can guide you to set the right expectations to help your students achieve academic brilliance:

Use Positive Reinforcement to Encourage Positive Actions in Students

Positive reinforcement is a key component of Character Education that involves using praise, rewards, and positive feedback to reinforce positive behaviors and attitudes in your students that aid in creating a positive learning environment. 

By using positive reinforcement, teachers can help students understand what behaviors are expected of them and encourage them to continue exhibiting those behaviors.

For example, let’s say you’re a kindergarten teacher who wants to reward a student for being responsible and returning a lost item to its rightful owner. 

To motivate them to replicate this positive action again, you can reward them with one of our Focus Unit Stickers such as the “I am Responsible” sticker.

Positive Action's Focus Unit Stickers

When you implement a cycle of positive reinforcement, in which students are motivated to work hard and succeed it, in turn, leads to more positive reinforcement and greater academic achievement at every turn

Positive Action understands the power of positive reinforcement, which is why we have made a collection of rewards to encourage positive actions such as T-shirts, stickers, wristbands, and other items.

Round Button Pin
For students and faculty
Elementary TAF Card
For students, faculty and parents
For studnets, faculty and parents

Create a Code of Conduct to Guide Your Students

A code of conduct developed with the principles of Character Education can be a powerful tool for managing classroom behavior and promoting academic success. 

It includes a set of rules and guidelines that govern behavior in the classroom and helps to establish expectations for student behavior. 

If you want to develop a functional and effective code of conduct that guides your student straight into academic success, then you should ensure that it emphasizes positive actions such as responsibility, respect, honesty, and integrity.

For instance, you could implement rules that promote responsibility such as completing homework on time and taking care of school property. 

You could take it one step further and reward students for observing these rules by rewarding their positive actions by increasing recess by 10 minutes to reinforce the behavior.

Expert Tip: Promote honesty and responsibility by encouraging students to admit mistakes and take ownership of their actions.

3 - Use Character Education to Build Strong Relationships

Character Education can be a powerful tool for building strong relationships among staff, students, and parents, ultimately creating a positive school climate and promoting a sense of belonging among your students.

For example, when you implement a Character Education program, such as our School Climate Curriculum, you encourage positive actions in your students, enabling them to feel more connected to you and seek you out when they need support or help.

Positive Action's Elementary Climate Kit

The curriculum, for example, has strengthened the relationships between staff and youth at the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Missouri: 

Members have worked hard to bring a positive environment to the club as a whole. One member has struggled with her self image and battled suicidal thoughts. Being actively engaged in the Positive Action programming helped to build a relationship with that staff and help her feel comfortable enough to talk to the staff and ask for help.

As a result, you will build strong relationships with your students and be in a better position to identify and address any potential academic challenges, such as problems at home or bullying in school, that may hinder their performance.

After you have addressed these concerns, you may then notice your students feel comfortable and engaged in their learning, leading to better academic outcomes.

Here are some best practices for fostering strong relationships in schools:

Bring the Parents Into the Conversation 

Children do not stop absorbing information when they leave school. They go home and have experiences that build on the knowledge they accrue in the classroom.

Whether that knowledge is influenced positively or negatively is entirely up to the parents. Therefore, it is crucial that you work hand in hand with parents to nurture children in a way that mirrors the positive school climate that schools are trying to implement.

A surefire way to empower parents with values that can help them instill positive actions in their children at home, such as responsibility, kindness, and organization, is by introducing them to Positive Action’s Family Kit.

Positive Action's Family Kit

The kit contains a manual that can teach parents all they need to know in order to strengthen family relationships and promote their children’s interest in learning

It features brief 15-minute lessons that you can train parents on during parent-teacher meetings or other school activities. 

As a result, students will have positive learning environments both at home and at school, enabling them to focus on academic achievements without distractions.

Create an Open Line of Communication

An open line of communication enables parents, teachers, and students to feel heard, understood, and that their voices matter in every situation.

As a result, all parties can trust each other and work collaboratively to achieve the common goal of creating a positive school climate for academic success.

For example, our Family Classes Kit features seven 2-hour classes that can be guided by teachers to help students and parents learn to communicate effectively. 

Positive Action's Family Classes Kit

You can plan a series of school events and invite parents and students to it through a school newsletter. Then, you can use the Family Classes Kit to guide them on how they can use Character Education lessons to communicate effectively.

For the first half of each lesson, different teachers conduct separate sessions for parents, children, and adolescents, with age-relevant manuals provided for each group. 

In the final hour, bring all of the groups together and prompt them to communicate the concepts they learned and participate in an activity as a whole family.

Create an Optimal School Climate That Inspires Student Success With Positive Action

Positive Action offers a comprehensive range of research-based curriculums and programs that align with all four best practices to create a positive school climate. 

Our programs are based on the philosophy that we feel good about ourselves when we do positive actions. This philosophy can be hard to communicate to students, which is why we simplified it through the Thoughts-Actions-Feelings Circle (TAF).

Here is a brief explainer of how the circle works:

The cycle illustrates how a positive school climate starts with an individual who has positive thoughts that lead to positive actions, and those actions lead to positive feelings about ourselves, which in turn affect how we interact with others in our school environment.

Here's a brief overview of some of our programs and how they align with the aforementioned best practices:

  • Positive Action: Our flagship program is a comprehensive K-12 curriculum that emphasizes the importance of positive relationships, clear expectations, and a safe and supportive environment for academic achievement. It also includes units on Character Education, conflict resolution, social-emotional learning, and mindfulness practices in students that are tailored to create a safe and supportive environment where your students are free to focus on academic excellence.Lastly, the program includes a variety of components such as positive actions for living, the theory of self-concept, and healthy living practices that ensure that your students are fully equipped on all fronts to achieve academic success.
  • Positive Action Pre-K Kit: This program is designed for children ages 3 to 5. It teaches children positive actions through a series of units, with each unit featuring engaging characters and visual aids to make learning fun and memorable.The units also cover topics such as taking care of your body, developing your brain, managing your resources, getting along with others, telling the truth, and setting and achieving goals.Consider this as a personalized learning approach that aims to equip pre-schoolers with a strong foundation of values that they can use to excel in school and other areas of their lives.
  • Positive Action Family Classes Kit: This program is designed for teaching parenting or family classes in seven 2-hour sessions using manuals based on Positive Action’s philosophy.

The kit includes four instructor's manuals, one each for children, adolescents, parents, and the family together, as well as activity booklets and posters. In the first hour of each session, you will meet children, adolescents, and parents separately to discuss age-appropriate lessons that cover the same concepts while in the second hour, the whole family comes together for group work and a wrap-up activity.The Positive Action Family Classes Kit is a robust and engaging program that you can use to bring parents into the conversation on how you can work together to improve their child’s behavior, engagement, and academic performance.

Why This Matters: Character Education helps shape students' identities and prepares them for future success.

Build a Foundation for Your Students’ Success Using Positive Action

Creating a positive school climate is essential for academic achievement and overall student success. 

When you collaborate with parents and students to build strong relationships, set clear expectations, and implement student-centered learning, you create a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive school climate where students are able to focus on academic achievement.

Kim Loop, the In-Home Care Supervisor for the Lake County Trial Court in Baldwin, Michigan,  recently shared some of the remarkable experiences she has had with Positive Action so far this year: 

One of the mental health workers Kim supervises was making a home visit when the children got home from school. One of the children began to pull Positive Action activity sheets out of his backpack. He explained to his mother what positive actions were, like eating right, getting enough rest, and treating others with respect.

Positive Action is the only Character Education program in the country that has the top rating of the U.S. Department of Education What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) in both academic achievement and behavior domains.

This award aligns perfectly with our mission to provide evidence-based and comprehensive curriculums and programs that arm students, schools, and families with the necessary tools to create a positive school climate that’s optimal for academic success.

Get in touch with us by emailing us at to schedule an overview webinar where we can talk about content


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