How to Foster a Safe Learning Environment in Today’s Modern Classroom

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Schools have been a key aspect of social infrastructure since day one. They have an enormous responsibility, often spending more time with children than their own parents do. And while public education is, in many ways, better than ever, there has been a growing concern around the idea of safety in schools.

From bullying to the terrifying threat of armed intruders, parents all across the planet can relate to the small but persistent fear that their children’s schools won’t be able to protect them from danger in extreme circumstances.

While this fear is valid, there are ways that schools can increase their safety and meet the needs of today’s students. In this article, we take a look at some of the many ways to foster and secure a safe learning environment.

Disaster Readiness

One of the most important things you can do to secure a safe learning environment is to have a well-understood plan in place for every possible occurrence.

Here are a few steps that schools can take to develop disaster readiness plans:

  • A plan for everything: Of course, everything is a loaded word. But it is important to have a clear strategy in place for all of the major likely occurrences. This should encompass both natural and human-induced emergencies. Make sure that everyone at the school knows what to do in the event of fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, intruders, and so on.
  • Drill: Once the plan has been established, it is important to practice at regular intervals. Remember that it is important for everyone to remain calm and clearheaded in the event of an emergency. Regular practice can help to make sure everyone will know what to do when extreme situations arise.
  • Establish your lines of communication: In the event of an emergency, it will be important to have multiple ways to contact help. While most schools will have landlines, as well as a few hundred cell phones in circulation, it is good to have backup support as well. This can include everything from two-way radios to emergency notification systems.
  • Talk with the local authorities: The local authorities in your community will be able to assist with drills and offer custom advice that will help better prepare your school for any eventuality. It can also be helpful to incorporate them in disaster readiness drills. This will help them gain familiarity with your buildings in advance while also better simulating the experience of an actual disaster.
  • Medical preparation: Make sure that your school has a well— stocked and easily accessed supply of first aid materials positioned in strategic locations throughout the school. Ideally, multiple members of the school staff will know how to use these materials effectively.
  • Take special needs into account: Are your disaster readiness plans inclusive? Make sure that students and staff members with special needs are accounted for in any and all plans.

It’s also important to provide psychological resources to children and staff. This is certainly something that you will want to have in the event of an emergency. However, most schools also staff a full-time psychologist. While it would be impossible for the psychologist to make consultations with everyone in the school district pre-emptively, it may be valuable to make mental health support materials visible and accessible to anyone who needs them.

Living with the threat of disaster can create acute mental health distress symptoms that should be taken seriously.

Foster Inclusivity

Physical threats are not the only danger that modern students face. Kids also need to feel respected and validated when they go to school.

Creating inclusive classrooms is essential for providing all students with equal opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive. Here are several strategies to promote inclusivity within educational settings:

  • Adapt instructional approaches: There are many ways to learn. Many suburban classrooms will have around thirty students, each with their own unique for absorbing information. While you can’t create a bespoke learning strategy for every single one of them, you can introduce a greater degree of variety to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn in the way they are most comfortable with at least some of the time.
  • Inclusive language: The conversation around inclusive language in schools often becomes political—which is also to say hostile. However, there is nothing partisan about using words that respect all of the people in your classroom. Make a point of being thoughtful about the words and labels you use in your classroom. There are many materials available online that can provide greater context for words and phrases that you may not be aware of if you are a member of a majority group.
  • Involve the community: Parents are a vital resource for schools. Use the learning community as a way to gain greater awareness of issues that may not be visible in the classroom. This will increase your ability to assess the needs of your students and provide them with coping resources as needed.
  • Encourage collaboration: Fostering an environment that prioritizes teamwork and collaboration is another great way to make the classroom a safe and inclusive space. Simply by getting kids to work together, you can help them to understand their peers and gain newfound tolerance for differences.
  • Address bullying head-on: One of the greatest threats to safety and inclusivity in the school setting is bullying. When issues arise in your classroom it is important to address them head on. The goal should always be to not only establish clear behavioral boundaries but also to provide valuable context for why bullying is harmful.

While it will never be possible to completely remove bias and unkind behavior from the classroom, making an effort toward inclusion can have a much bigger impact than you might first assume.

About Sensory Edge 527 Articles
At SensoryEdge our focus is to educate, inform, and inspire each person caring for children to be and do their very best. It is not always easy and sometimes we don't take action (or we take the wrong action) because of a lack of understanding the real issues. We hope that the conversations that occur here will help in some small way better the lives of children, their families, and the professionals who work with them. We are always looking for valuable contributions to our site so if you are interested in becoming a contributor contact us.