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February 24, 2022

Teaching & Education

15 Tips for Creating a Safe Learning Environment

As an educator, you have the supreme responsibility of shaping young minds. Part of that responsibility is setting a daily tone for your students that makes them feel safe and comfortable so they can focus on learning. A safe learning environment goes beyond the classroom; it’s the intangible space that supports your students in the pursuit of knowledge, that inspires curiosity, and that makes them feel empowered to participate in class discussions. Creating this kind of safe learning environment in the classroom is essential for serving the vast spectrum of student learning styles.

There are three major factors that impact your students’ learning environment:

  • Physical: Deciding how the educational environment is physically laid out and designed to support students’ safety and learning.
  • Psychological: Creating a trusting educational environment that allows students to participate, ask questions, take risks, and receive constructive feedback.
  • Emotional: Celebrating diversity, self-expression, and students’ achievements.

Keep Reading for 15 Tips on How to Implement a Safe Learning Environment in Your Classroom.

1. Hold a Regular Morning Meeting

The morning meeting model is a classroom practice where teachers begin each day with a class-wide gathering designed to address the emotional needs of learners. Adding a morning meeting to your class schedule helps set the tone for yourself and your students, creates feelings of trust, helps students feel important, inspires empathy and collaboration between students, and supports emotional and academic learning.

2. Provide a Safe Space for Students

The classroom should be a 100% safe space for all students. Some of your students might come from tumultuous home environments and school is one of their few escapes, which is why it’s important that you make it the haven those students need. One way to do this is by diligently monitoring for bullying and extinguishing every instance. That way, all students can feel comfortable and empowered to learn and express themselves.

3. Adapt to Each Class: One Size Doesn't Fit All

It’s no secret that the school system favors some learning styles over others. In a world of vast learning experiences, you have the responsibility and privilege to meet your students’ needs. An effective way to approach this is simply by asking your students how they would prefer to learn. Offering a choice rather than providing a one-size-fits-all method is important to catering to different learning styles.

4. Develop a Culture of Representation

Students come in all colors, shapes, and sizes—and they all deserve to feel a sense of belonging in the classroom. Historically, marginalized groups of students have been underrepresented and underserved in academic spaces, which has resulted in lower graduation rates. If you create a culture of diversity, inclusion, and belonging in your classroom, you can set each and every one of your students up for success.

5. Celebrate Achievements and Work on an Asset Model

The asset model values students for what they bring to the classroom rather than characterizing them based on what they’re missing or need to work on. Implementing this approach in your classroom means celebrating your students’ big and small wins alike. Positive reinforcement is also a big component of this classroom approach. By praising your students’ strengths, you help build their confidence over time.

6. Build Trusting Relationships

It’s very important to create trusting relationships with your students. A study by the American Psychological Association found that teachers who forge positive relationships with their students create a classroom atmosphere that encourages learning and better meets students’ developmental, emotional, and academic needs. Providing positive reinforcement and celebrating your students’ unique qualities through the asset model helps build these trusting relationships.

7. Read and Write with Your Students

The more you read and write with your students, the more vocabulary they’ll learn and the better they’ll be at communicating. Studies show that students with advanced reading and writing skills are better at critical thinking and have access to more opportunities. Prioritizing these things in your curriculum will give your students the ability to solve interpersonal problems and express themselves for a lifetime.

8. Create a Judgment-Free Zone

It’s important to shape your classroom into a judgment-free zone so that students can focus on learning instead of worrying about being accepted by their classmates. You should carve out time every week for ice breakers and open discussions for students to get to know each other.

9. Incorporate Music

The benefits of incorporating music in your lesson plan are numerous. When used in the classroom, it’s been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, help students regulate their emotions, improve focus, and help children process language.

10. Smile Often

As the teacher, you'll have students look to you for reassurance and guidance. When you make a point to smile, it can give students a sense of ease and make them feel safe. Smiling also makes you more likable, which can assist in building trusting, positive relationships with your students.

11. Create Supportive Classroom Environments

Creating supportive educational environments provides the foundation for emotional, physical, and academic wellness. You should collaborate with students to brainstorm parameters for creating a supportive, active learning environment. When students can rely on you to uphold this kind of environment, they can focus on learning and freely expressing themselves.

12. Stay Calm

There are many instances where the classroom environment can get hectic or stressful. One common example is when two students get into a heated argument. It’s important that you help resolve the conflict between students calmly so that the two students can de-escalate and other students don’t get upset by the situation. As with all other moments in the classroom, your demeanor will set the tone.

13. Respect Differences

You can respect the differences of your students by treating each of them fairly and acknowledging their unique needs. If you must reprimand a student, do it in private so as not to embarrass or humiliate the student in front of their classmates. Also be aware of the spectrum of cultures represented in your classroom, so you can respect your students accordingly. As the leader of the classroom, you can provide cues to your students by modeling respectful language when speaking to and of students.

14. Respect Their Space

Everyone has a different personal bubble. To err on the side of caution, be sure to keep a safe physical distance from each of your students and allow them to define their personal space. You should also practice respecting their privacy. Some students will feel more comfortable sharing their personal details than others.

15. Make Mistakes a Learning Opportunity

As the teacher you have the power to frame your students’ mistakes as learning opportunities. By painting mistakes in a positive light, you remove the shame from making errors, which empowers your students to learn. When a student makes a mistake, you should go over what went wrong and provide the student with resources, knowledge, and tools to improve.

By creating a positive and trusting classroom environment, teachers can provide their students the safety and support they need for academic, personal, and professional development. 

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