A school crisis unexpectedly disrupts the school, causes emotional and physical distress, and requires extraordinary decisions and resources to restore stability. During a crisis, teachers and administrators are the first decision-makers. Yet, their training may not prepare them for this responsibility. The first school crisis framework published in educational psychology appeared in 1994, following a U.S. symposium of school psychologists to discuss a recent school massacre. In addition, cross-country communications forums and seminars recognized cultural considerations while fostering the exchange of school crisis research findings and their implications for practice. These efforts have led educational psychologists worldwide to adopt a temporal framework of recommended practices to guide educators’ decisions before, during, and after crises. Pre-crisis work includes assessment, prevention, planning, and training. Pre-crisis planning calls on expertise in multidisciplinary collaboration with other emergency responders and risk assessments that require one to choose measures and interpret data. Once a school staff identifies impending risks, educational psychologists collaborate with responder agencies to communicate some of this information. Planning for a crisis includes procedures for young children, as well as those with special needs, which calls on the psychologist to consider how best to assess their needs and accommodate these groups. Practices and drills call for behavioral observation skills and an understanding of stress reactions that impede compliance with directives. Here, the educational psychologist contributes technical expertise in behavioral observations and performance assessment. The crisis response phase thrusts educators into rapid collaborations with emergency responders to prevent casualties and reduce exposure to trauma. During a crisis, psychologists work alongside others to safeguard, reassure, and empower those affected, taking into account the assistance that older students may offer. Post-crisis efforts seek to restore psychological safety through the restoration of social supports, then address acute mental health needs. Educational psychologists impart clinical expertise to restore social supports, arrange for psychological first aid, minimize continued exposure, and triage mental health needs. Academic recovery requires decisions about how and when to resume instruction. A return to schooling, ongoing supports for victims and responders, and evaluations to improve school crisis responses comprise the final goals. Some view this post-crisis mental health work as the psychologist’s primary contribution; however, the aforementioned examples reveal a greater agenda of opportunities during all school crisis phases.
Mary Margaret Kerr
Habibat Abubakar Yusuf and Ismail Hussein Amzat
Climate is a multifaceted concept in an organization, with few distinctions in the context of school settings. Although research on school climate stems from the study of organizational climate, and became a central variable in the educational research with a comprehensive review of the literature, there are significant differences in the approaches to the study of school climate. Scholars have studied climate at various levels of education, for example, elementary schools, secondary schools, and higher level schools as well as among teachers and school leaders. There is some divergence and variations in school climate across those contexts; there are also substantial similarities as shown in many past studies. School climate as a key player in school development can be driven by internal factors like interactive behavior and external factors such as school location, school size, student population, educational policies and socio-economic changes. Studies of climate in the educational context is multidimensional and can be viewed in a variety of ways due to diverse social effects. Climate has been investigated in relation to the general working environment of school, quality of school experience, school values and norms, interpersonal relationships of individual school members, teaching and learning practices, structure of the school, and feelings toward school life. In this regard, school climate is explored in relation to school development in Nigeria and focuses on those factors that have a greater potential to support teaching and learning practices, including school plants, school leadership, school culture, collegiality, school safety, and academic achievement. Relating these constructs to school development in Nigeria will give more precise and sizeable understanding on the importance of school climate towards attainment of sustainable school success.
Elizabeth J. Meyer
The field of bullying research initially paid minimal attention to the influences of gender role expectations (masculinity, femininity, and gender role conformity), as well as heteronormativity, cisnormativity, homophobia, and transphobia in understanding the phenomenon. This has shifted since the late 2000s, when more research emerged that analyzes gender as an influential factor for understanding bullying dynamics in schools. More recent studies have focused on LGBTQ youth, issues of disability, and racialized identities, as well as the impacts of online interactions. When examining gender and bullying, it is important to also examine related forms of gender-based violence, including sexual harassment, dating violence, and other forms of sexual and violent assault such as transphobic violence and murder. In order to more effectively support schools and professionals working to reduce bullying, there must be a deeper understanding of what is currently known about gender and bullying, what works to reduce it in schools, and what still needs more attention in the research literature.
Russell B. Toomey and Zhenqiang Zhao
The United States prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education via federal law. Case law in the United States also applies the prohibition of sex discrimination to incidents that were motivated by a person’s sex or gender, including gender identity and expression. Enumerated nondiscrimination, school-based policies that include gender identity and expression are among the foundational policies advocated for by researchers and practitioners that aim to make schools safer for transgender and gender nonconforming students. These policies serve as a foundation for all other interventions or policies that may be implemented in a school to increase safety for transgender and gender nonconforming students. Further, enumerated nondiscrimination policies provide students with a clear understanding of their rights at school, and they provide school personnel with grounding to prevent and intervene in gender-based discrimination. Research has found that transgender and gender nonconforming students experience high levels of stigma (e.g., manifested as discrimination, stigma-based bullying) in schools, and that these school-based experiences are associated with compromised educational outcomes in addition to disparities in behavioral, physical, and psychological health. Students in schools that have enumerated nondiscrimination policies report less bias stigma-based bullying attributed to gender identity and expression compared to students in schools with non-enumerated policies. Further, students are more likely to report that teachers intervene in stigma-based bullying attributed to gender identity and expression in schools that have enumerated nondiscrimination policies compared to those that do not. Finally, studies have found that nondiscrimination policies that include gender identity and expression attenuate the negative consequences of stigma for students.
Michael Wright and Rosemary Papa
The educational environment of the 21st century is complex and dynamic, placing demands on school leaderships that are both considerable and constant. Societal challenges such as school shootings, drugs, alcohol, and other problems are more frequently finding their way into U.S. classroom settings, which only further complicates the role of the superintendent. At times, superintendents may believe U.S. public schools are under attack, especially given prevailing political forces driving the marketization and privatization of schools. The elements connected to the sustainment and sustainability of superintendents, especially superintendent turnover, as a result of the following pressures are defined: school safety and security, social media, less parental involvement, and increased federal influence; continued divestment in public education and declining student enrollment; and pressure to perform by public school administrators. Superintendent departure research further considers: factors contributing to longevity and the cost of turnover; differences between superintendents and board members; reasons superintendents leave; stakeholder expectations and political pressures; increased accountability; and differences in expectations between the board and superintendent. Sustainable leadership is required between the superintendent and the board. Teamwork leads to greater effectiveness. Overall, the result of increased competition and dwindling levels of federal and state school funding very often means superintendents face complicated choices and difficult dilemmas—particularly relating to the allocation of scarce financial resources. For instance, school leaders nationwide are frequently forced to balance the tension existing between academic and non-academic programs, in a time when funding is woefully insufficient. Superintendents must often forgo hiring additional teachers, or purchasing required classroom support materials, and forgo school facility repairs, in order to enhance school safety and security. The increased accountability for school performance also weighs heavily on administrators, faculty, and staff, and especially the superintendent. Such pressures increase the level of superintendent turnover.