Using Student Concern Forms for Creating a Sense of Safe, Caring, and Fair Schools and School Connectedness

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For decades reserachers have explored school climate and conflict resolution; however, few have engaged in a specific case study analysis of the impact of democractic voice in the construction of school climate. This research explores how the use of Student Concern Forms (SCFs) helps create the sense of a safe, caring, and fair community by giving students and teachers the opportunity to voice when there are infractions against individuals and the school norms; and how participation relates to school connectedness and the sense of taking part in the creation of a moral community. The SCFs were implemented by the principal of a middle school to facilitate comprehensive reporting of student concerns in relation to any aspect of school life (i.e., bullying, conflicts with peers and teachers, etc.). The SCF, initially created as reporting tool, was reintroduced into the school context to open the channels of communication between all parties involved in the reported concern. The forms are reviewed by the administrators of the school, and students are involved in resolution process. This paper analyzes the incidents reported and the actions taken by administrators and students to address the concerns. Specifically, this thesis examines the behaviors reported; what do the teachers and principal write about how the problem is resolved? How are students involved in the resolution process? What is the student?s sense of personal and interpersonal safety? Do these forms create a positive moral climate in the school? I explore whether or not students? participation in voicing their concerns has a positive effect on their sense of personal, emotional, and interpersonal safety, their connectedness to school, and sense of creating a more moral environment.

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