In an effort to improve safety and ensure positive social and emotional climates, the state of Connecticut requires all schools to evaluate their school climates.
The state typically relies on student, teacher and parent surveys to understand each school’s climate, but Wilton took it a step further to understand and work to improve school climate, respect and safety in all its schools.
One facet of the district’s comprehensive initiative took place at Miller-Driscoll on Thursday, April 9, when approximately 400 students in kindergarten through second grade reported on school climate — artistically.
Students drew pictures, depicting what they see, experience and know about school climate, and the ways they treat each other on the bus, on the playground, in the hallways, and in the lunchroom.
This form of surveying — designed by Dr. Bill Preble and the Center for School Climate and Learning — allows even the youngest students to voice their concerns and share their experiences.
“We know that student-written surveys are not useful with such young children, so we developed this school climate research process to include young students using well-established art therapy techniques,” Dr. Preble said in a press release.
After drawing pictures of themselves on the bus, the playground, in the hallways, and at lunch, the students sat down with student researchers from New Hampshire’s New England College, who asked them to describe what was going on in their pictures.
The researchers then coded the students’ responses as either positive or negative while capturing their stories.
“We learned a lot about the school climate perceptions and experiences of K-2 students at Miller Driscoll School from our picture discussions with over 450 students,” Dr. Preble told The Bulletin.