Head, Heart, and Hands: Collaborating to Create Positive School Climate
Garry McGiboney, deputy superintendent for the Office of School Safety and Climate at the Georgia Department of Education, asks, “Do you live in the remedy world or in the solution world?” He explains that attributing the wrong cause to behavior leads to remedies and not solutions in the classroom. He shows how only solutions will guide us toward positive school climate in Georgia.
“Most of us live in the remedy world. Until you shift over to the solution world, you don’t really know what your capabilities are to solve problems,” said McGiboney. “If you assign the wrong cause to the behavior, you will not get to solutions. We think we’re good at characterizing behavior, but we’re not. Our reaction to somebody’s behavior has more to do with why we think they did it than what they actually did.”
McGiboney said the “quintessential remedy” for behavioral issues in schools is out-of-school suspension, which is not a solution. He noted that while a positive school climate is typically defined by less suspensions and discipline referrals combined with improved attendance and academic outcomes, many factors determine what a positive climate “looks like.”
“You have to be purpose-driven to find solutions,” said McGiboney. “One of the keys to solutions is head, heart, and hands. Another definition of that is collaboration—which can be hard, difficult, frustrating work. When we’re collaborating and looking for solutions, we need to start as many times as it takes to finish.”
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