Brooklyn Castle Toolkits and Workshops: Introduction



These questions are designed to help participants synthesize what they have learned and transform their new insights into action:

    • What did you learn from the experience of the people featured in Brooklyn Castle about creating a school climate that supports academic success? What's one thing you could do to act on what you learned?


    • If you could have ________________ [fill in blank with each of the other groups: parents/guardians, students, teachers or administrators] do one thing that would improve the climate at your school, what would it be? What is one thing you could do to help build a positive climate at your school?


    • If your school doesn't already have one, do you think a chess team would be a valuable addition to your school? If so, what could you do to help create one? If not, what other activities would you suggest--either in school or after school--that would contribute to creating a school climate that supports academic success?


  • As much as possible, be prepared to help individuals and/or the group to take the first step(s) toward implementing their ideas for action (e.g., making a room available for another meeting or making available contact information for existing groups working on school climate issues).


If you are targeting a single group, your event will end with the step above. If you have multiple groups, bring them back together and have them share their answers to:

    • current school "grades" on school climate (if they did this as a pre-viewing activity).


    • responses to particular clips. If groups viewed different clips, this may include asking a group representative to summarize the clip before sharing the issues that it raised.


  • ideas for action steps, including what they hoped other groups would do (closing question #2).

To wrap up the event, guide participants to determine whether a consensus exists about any particular action idea. If so, help the group plan to pursue that idea. If not, end with a "go-round," asking people to share one thing they learned and one thing they plan to do.


About the Film - POV's website for Brooklyn Castle includes a general discussion guide, lesson plan, interview with the filmmaker and more.

About the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's American Graduate Initiative - Find out about efforts across the United States to improve high school graduation rates.

About School Climate

Alliance for the Study of School Climate - This California State University, Los Angeles-based site aggregates research reports about school climate. The Alliance for the Study of School Climate also offers consulting on implementation and assessment to individual districts as they address school climate issues.

National Education Association - The nation's largest teachers' union offers a short, easy-to-read summary titled "Importance of School Climate."

National School Climate Center - This organization's website is a one-stop shop for resources related to school climate, including tools for measuring school climate, definitions and guidelines for implementation. Resources include a 2010 school climate research summary ( and this 2009 study on the relationship of school climate research to current policy and practice: Jonathan Cohen, Libby McCabe, Nicholas M. Michelli and Terry Pickeral. School Climate: Research, Policy, Practice, and Teacher Education (2009, Center for Social and Emotional Education; Teachers College, Columbia University; City University of New York.

Research Alliance for New York City Schools: Strengthening Assessments of School Climate - This 2013 research review by Lori Nathanson, Meghan McCormick and James J. Kemple offers a slightly different set of school climate factors: academic expectations, communication, engagement and safety and respect.

Safe Supportive Learning - This website with resources on school climate is from the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments and is run by the American Institutes for Research and funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

H. Jerome Feiberg, ed. School Climate: Measuring, Improving and Sustaining Healthy Learning Environments. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2005.