Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

We're All in This Together: Climate and Community (Aspects of Culture and Climate, Part 8 of 8)

Shayna Pond, Daniel Schwarz, Mariah Warren, Shelby Blackwood, Patricia McDaniels-Gomez, Mary Braggs, Evalyne Tracy, Jared Whaley | Published: June 8th, 2023 by K20 Center


Organizational engagement climate refers to the ability of a group of employees to perceive the energy and commitment needed to work together to achieve organizational goals. Positive organizational climates result from employees having the organizational resources they need to do their work, having a sense of how their work brings meaning to their lives, and feeling as though they are part of a community in the workplace. This professional learning session is part of a series that explores the eight aspects of organizational culture and climate measured by K20's research-based survey. Participants will look at the research factors that support climate and community and then reflect on the data collected from their school survey to create a goal for improving the climate and community at their school.

Essential Questions

  • How does employee engagement support organizational climate and community?

Learning Goals

  • Explore research-based characteristics of Climate and Community

  • Analyze survey constructs and data in the context of their organization

  • Apply strategies to their role within their team and organization

Materials List

  • Inflatable beach ball with six colors (6)

  • Presentation slides

  • Values Chart (1 per participant)

  • Climate and Community Research Brief (1 per participant)

  • Chain Notes Handout (1 set per table group, print one side only)

  • Pen/pencil (1 per participant)

  • Device with internet access (at least 1 per table group)


Display slide 2 to introduce the beach ball toss activity. Number off participants 1-6 to create six groups; each group should have one beach ball. This activity breaks the ice and helps engage prior experiences where participants may have felt engaged in their work.

Move to slide 3 to display the color-coded questions. Participants toss the ball to each other within their group. When a participant catches the beach ball, they answer the color-coded question according to the color their right thumb is touching.

  • Orange: Describe a time you felt really engaged in a project at work.

  • Red: Describe a time when you bragged about your work.

  • Blue: Describe a time when you were working and lost track of time.

  • Green: Describe a time when you were collaborating and your initial idea blossomed into something extraordinary.

  • White: Describe a time when you were recognized for your work.

  • Yellow: Describe a time you felt really connected to your coworker(s).

Encourage participants to continue tossing the ball until each participant has answered at least one question.

Move to slide 4 and read the essential question. Move to slide 5 and review the objectives for this session.


Begin by handing out the Values Chart one per participant at a time. At this time, ask them to fill out only the first two columns as pictured on slide 6. The purpose of this activity is for participants to individually reflect on what engages them in their work.


Next, display slide 7 and hand out the attached Research Brief. Use the Stop and Jot strategy and ask participants to stop after each paragraph and write notes.

Then, move to slide 8 and ask participants to complete the last column of their Values Chart.

Show slide 9. Ask tables to discuss as a group the notes they made during the Stop and Jot reading activity and what they learned about their own work orientation. Each table should brainstorm a goal for ways to nurture a positive climate and community at their school.


Display slide 10 and allow participants 5-10 minutes to view and read through the data. Encourage participants to chat with their table group and ask questions.

Move to slide 11 to introduce the It says, I say, and So… instructional strategy. Read and discuss the example on the slide with participants. Then, ask participants to get into groups of two and pass out the Chain Notes Handout (one set per group). Move to slide 12. Each partner should have a different construct (Organizational Engagement Climate or Social Embeddedness). Instruct participants to write their answer to the first question on the handout. Remind them to answer only the first question.

Move to slide 13 and ask them to pass their paper to their partner. Next, ask participants to answer only the second question on the paper they just received. Move to slide 14 and tell participants to pass their paper to their partner again. Instruct them to answer only the second question on the handout.

Once everyone has finished answering the third question, move to slide 15. Tell participants to take turns at their table to read aloud all of the answers to the questions on their paper.

Show slide 16. Next, instruct participants to summarize key takeaways to share out with the whole room. Each table group should select one participant from their group to share.


Show slide 17. Ask each participant to make a post in each of the three columns. (This strategy is called Rose, Bud, and Thorn).

  1. Rose: Something that’s already blooming (well-supported in our culture/climate)

  2. Thorn: Something you would like to see change

  3. Bud: Something you need to support your future growth

Research Rationale

Researchers have been working to pinpoint the factors that enable organizations and their employees to achieve essential goals. Two important constructs have emerged from their studies. The first construct, (1) organizational engagement climate, refers to the ability of a group of employees to perceive the energy and commitment needed to work together to achieve organizational goals (Albrecht et al., 2018). Employees can have an easier time attaining these goals when an organization makes various (2) organizational resources available to them. The other construct, (3) work orientation, refers to how work brings meaning into an individual’s life (Willner et al., 2020). Work orientation is multi-faceted, but one aspect of the construct that deserves particular attention is (4) social embeddedness, which is an individual’s ability to feel as though they are part of a community in the workplace.


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