Students reflect on what it means to feel safe and as a class, students create a list of specific actions they can take to help themselves and each other to feel safe.

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  1. Reflect on their experiences related to feeling safe and comfortable in school
  2. Propose ideas to improve the comfort level/feeling of safety in the classroom
  3. Take proactive steps to improve the comfort/safety of the classroom space

Materials

Paper and writing utensils, posters with “physical safety”, “intellectual safety”, and “emotional safety” written on them and posted in the room.

Exercises

Time Activity Notes
2 mins
Opening
  • Give students a short writing prompt about feeling safe.
  • Suggestion: Describe a place that makes you feel safe. Include 2-3 specific details about that place. Then, describe a place that makes you feel unsafe (Give a range from 1-5 with 5 being unsafe and say to pick a place that is 2 unless you have a good grasp on the students’ needs and the room at large). Include 2-3 specific details about that place, as well.
5 mins
Introduction
  • Introduce students to the idea of intentionally creating a safe space in “our” classroom.
  • Give students 3-4 minutes to share out the places that make them feel safe and the details about those places.
  • If they wish they can also share places or details that make them feel unsafe.
  • Share with students the benefits of creating a safe place within a classroom.
  • Explain that it is important that students feel not only physically safe but also emotionally and intellectually safe.
Using language that creates a sense of team is important in this lesson. Calling this vision “our safe classroom” reflects teamwork and a sharing of responsibility.
15 mins
  • Introduce and guide students through a brainstorm. In order to do this, before class, write out the three categories of safety on poster board or large sheets of paper and post around the room: physically safe, emotionally safe, and intellectually safe.
  • Then, break students into three groups and have them rotate through the three posters. Give each group 5 minutes to discuss and brainstorm ideas about:
    • (1) what makes them feel safe in each of these dimensions and
    • (2) how they can incorporate new ideas or change current practices to increase the feeling of safety in each of these categories.
    • As students are brainstorming and writing on the posters, circulate and push students to articulate specific and reasonable suggestions.
Create a system for students to ask questions of and agree with previous notes on the brainstorming boards. For example, a star, check mark, or a smiley face can indicate that the new group agrees with an idea posted by the previous group and would like to “second” it.
10 mins
Group Consensus
  • Guide students in a debrief of the ideas and suggestions they generated. Suggested questions:
    • Which ideas would help to impact the most people positively? Which ideas can we all start implementing right now? Tomorrow? Next week? Which ideas would we need help to implement? Which ideas, if any, are unreasonable or unfeasible for some reason?
  • At the end of the debrief, create a class list of the 2-3 specific actions that you plan to take and work to implement as a group in each category of safety.
15 mins
Reflection

Have students complete a reflection. See “formative assessment” below for suggested questions.

Give students ample time to complete this reflection and to provide a full answer to the final question. You may want to give a guideline for length for this last question (i.e., please write 5-6 full sentences in your description).

Connections to Other Emotions

The group brainstorm fosters the emotion of connected/supported, as group members are supporting each other, building off of each other’s ideas, and coming to a consensus. Creating a safe space is also founded in respected/valued and students’ ideas should come from a place of respecting and valuing the classroom community.

Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment

  1. What specific steps can you take in the next week to help build a sense of safety in our classroom?
  2. What kind of safety do you think is the most important: physical, emotional, or intellectual? Why?
  3. Where do you think our classroom needs to grow the most in terms of safety?
  4. Imagine what our classroom will look like in 6 months if everyone really commits to working on the areas of safety that we talked about today. Describe what it will look like, sound like, and feel like in our classroom when we accomplish these ideas.

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