It’s a great time to spread awareness of and ensure safer environments that can improve students’ social emotional learning and behavior.
Academic Safety: As advocates for student learning, teachers are in a unique position to create and promote a safe and supportive learning environment that encourages students to challenge themselves to learn. A learning environment that rewards an effort to try, even at the risk of failure, promotes resiliency as the child is encouraged to try and try again. Having high expectations of the students is a big part of this supportive environment. Students who know their teacher is invested in them and expects them to perform will work harder to meet that expectation.
For adults, words of encouragement and a reminder that someone cares about us and is invested in us go a long way to building our commitment in our work. Children are no different. Simple gestures that reinforce the commitment of a teacher will bond the child more to their school and to their learning.
Students need a safe and supportive learning environment that encourages them to try and to risk failure so they can learn from their mistakes and keep trying. The student bond with school is a strong protective factor that encourages children to interact with each other and their teacher as they learn, motivating them to work hard to reach their goals and resist risky behavior.
Physical Safety: Supervision and clear communication about maintaining boundaries while at school promote safe environments in places like classrooms, hallways, lunch rooms, and outdoor areas. Children who are self- and socially aware and equipped to resolve disputes peacefully are less likely to engage in physical confrontations with others and are more likely to deescalate conflicts when they arise. Students encouraged to respect differing opinions and to acknowledge the needs of others, build stronger, healthier relationships. Learning environments that emphasize and encourage more peaceful approaches, such as compromise or agreeing to disagree, encourage children to practice resolving differences and respect others despite those differences.
Emotional Safety: Students excel in an environment that nurtures healthy relationships with their peers and their teachers. Students thrive when they have positive role models in their lives who set examples of appropriate behavior, healthy attitudes, and emotional response. Whether it is a teacher, a counselor, or a coach, students need someone at school they can reach out to in times of need. Peer groups matter too. Children who are part of a group that values respect for themselves and for others are less likely to be bullied and less likely to bully others. Students who can identify and bond with positive peer groups who are positive influences make better, more responsible decisions. Students are more likely to speak up if they are the target or witness of a bullying situation when ready and equipped to report and refuse bullying behaviors alongside other children.
Safe learning environments can be created or enhanced for students. Hence, children will feel more comfortable learning about key concepts such as taking healthy risks, conflict resolution, and bullying prevention.