Creating a Safe Learning Environment in the Classroom Video

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  • 0:00 Safety Matters
  • 0:35 Physical Safety
  • 1:39 Emotional Safety
  • 3:20 Social Safety
  • 4:18 When Things Go Wrong
  • 5:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Children learn best when they are in a safe classroom environment, and teachers and families are happier when classrooms feel safe, too. This lesson will give you some ideas on how to create a safe environment for all learners.

Safety Matters

A safe classroom environment is one where learners feel physically, emotionally, and socially comfortable. They know that their needs are taken care of and that they are protected by caring and thoughtful teachers and members of their community. Children learn best when they feel safe; in fact, an unsafe classroom environment is not all that conducive to learning. Follow along with master teacher Ms. Balkin, who works hard to create a safe environment in her classroom for all learners.

Physical Safety

Ms. Balkin is a third grade teacher who cares tremendously about her students' safety. She prioritizes their physical safety - protecting students from bodily harm - throughout the day, and she shares the following tips for making sure the classroom is a physically safe environment:

  • Keep the classroom neat and tidy.

Of course a certain amount of mess goes along with fun learning, but Ms. Balkin is careful to keep her classroom neat and clear of tripping hazards and other things that might hurt her students.

  • Consider physical maneuvering when you arrange your classroom.

Ms. Balkin makes sure there is plenty of room for children to move around her classroom during transitions. She keeps physical needs and mobility impairments in mind as well when she sets up furniture and arranges materials.

  • Build in time for exercise and movement.

Healthy, active children are more aware of how their bodies move in space. Ms. Balkin works with the gym teacher on helping build movement into her students' lives. She never cuts short recess and gym class, and she encourages her students to exercise and play outdoors in their spare time, too.

Emotional Safety

Ms. Balkin knows that emotionally safe children are better learners because they are happier and more comfortable. She thinks of emotional safety as the safety to feel and express a range of emotions. Emotionally safe children are not necessarily happy all the time, but they feel supported. They know how to express their feelings and ask for what they need. Further, in an emotionally safe classroom, students watch out for one another's needs and feelings and are careful to repair any damage they may have inflicted on another student. Ms. Balkin offers the following tips for creating an emotionally safe classroom environment:

  • Give students language for describing emotions.
  • Ask your school counselor or social worker for help dealing with hard emotional situations.
  • Build time into the day for conflict resolution and open discussion of what is going on with the children's feelings.
  • Create a list of words and acts that make children feel safe and unsafe. Keep this list in a prominent place in the classroom and refer to it during times of emotional difficulty.
  • Remain aware of what is happening in your students' home lives. Keep in close communication with families and provide support when children and families are going through hard times.
  • Think about ways to make the classroom environment welcoming and cheerful. Pay particular attention to welcoming students from diverse backgrounds, meaning students who, because of any kind of difference or non-normative identity, can be more at risk for feeling emotionally marginalized in school. These students should be actively welcomed by teachers and fellow community members.

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