Student safety is the number one priority of many schools. But the safety of your students includes much more than their physical well-being. Students enter the school each day hoping to find that it is a safe haven for them to depend on. You can make students feel both physically and emotionally safe by taking the proper precautions and creating the appropriate environment.
Create a respectful environment. Encourage students to speak positively to each other and immediately stop any name-calling or verbal teasing. Use the words "please" and "thank you" and model other respectful practices so that students with follow suit.
Keep all of your rules consistent, so that students feel they can depend on your enforcing them. Make sure that students are aware of exactly what is allowed in your classroom, as well as what the repercussions are for breaking a rule. Students who are generally obedient should receive the same reaction for breaking the rule as students who are generally disobedient.
Organize your students' seating arrangements in the safest way possible. In other words, seat students who feel aggression toward each other on opposite sides of the room, and seat their cronies appropriately as well.
Keep a set routine as much as possible. Especially at the beginning of the school year, when students are just getting used to your way of doing things, a routine can help them feel emotionally safe.
Allow for some downtime during the school day, if possible. Obviously, this is rarely possible if you teach one short class a day with each group of students, but it is definitely possible when you teach the same set of students for several hours or all morning. Downtime, especially when it incorporates physical activity, enables students to burn off aggression and enjoy a less pressured environment.
- Supervise your students carefully during recess and lunch periods. Bullying often happens during these "off times."
- Never point out a student's differences in front of other students, unless the student points it out first. This can make the student feel singled out and can lead to future bullying problems.
Keren (Carrie) Perles is a freelance writer with professional experience in publishing since 2004. Perles has written, edited and developed curriculum for educational publishers. She writes online articles about various topics, mostly about education or parenting, and has been a mother, teacher and tutor for various ages. Perles holds a Bachelor of Arts in English communications from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.