“Creating a classroom that is organized and that is characterized by mutual respect makes it a lot easier to teach effectively, and one of the most important things teachers can do to promote learning is to create classroom environments where students feel safe.” – Dr. Dusenbury.
Dr. Dusenbury is a nationally recognized expert in creating safe and nurturing classroom environments and the text above is what she had to say about creating safe spaces. I have just finished reading this article at Education World that pulls information from one of Dusenbury’s resources and I have already learned so much. The article discusses why it is important for students to feel safe in their learning environment and how to make this attainable in your classroom.
“Students need to feel safe in order to learn”
It is important for children to respect each other, themselves, their teachers, and to receive respect from all of these areas in return. This is valuable in times where students are working together, especially in small groups, and also in times where students are sharing ideas on topics that can be controversial or misunderstood. “Students need to feel safe in order to learn” says Dr. Dusenbury, and she is very right! I have worked in a handful of environments where school was a child’s safe haven from an unsafe life and I have learned first hand that if a student can feel safe and supported in their learning then it can drastically alter the trajectory of their life. Students need to feel safe to ask questions, make mistakes, and challenge their thinking and the thinking of others in a safe and respectful manner. Students also need structure and routine to feel secure in their learning environment so that they are not surprised by anything and feel secure in their participation in the classroom.
So what are some ways to start turning your classroom into a safe and structured environment?
- Keep a clean and organized classroom. Children get distracted easily and it is important for them to have clear and consistent expectations for the teacher and themselves when it comes to everything, but in this case classroom clutter. If your classroom is inviting and clearly promotes student growth then students will feel safe being a part of it.
- MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL – and make sure it’s easily accessible! This is important for you and your students because it supports the learning and flow of your classroom.
- Organize your classroom in a way that promotes movement. If students need to pull their desks together or if you are doing a brain break then this is key! It is also important for you as a teacher to be able to move around, monitor learning, and keep your lessons engaging!
- Teach students, and yourself, to respond to everything with respect. There are no bad questions but a bad response to a question can cripple a student’s self confidence. Model respect and keep that word on your tongue always. Fostering respect and inclusion of ideas, even when they are not the same as yours, is valuable in our classrooms and in our society. So, teach them respect and acceptance now so that they can grow up to create a future society that celebrates diversity and kindness.
“…teach them respect and acceptance now so that they can grow up to create a future society that celebrates diversity and kindness.”
Finally, pay attention areas outside of your classroom and work with other teacher’s and staff to ensure that your school is a safe space for every child. Ultimately, “be conscious of the environment in your school and classroom. When you create a climate of safety and respect, learning will follow.”
“When you create a climate of safety and respect, learning will follow.”