Participants reflect on their personal definitions of the word “safe” and work together in small groups to create a “vision of safe” for the community.


Participants will be able to:

  1. Create a personal definition of safe
  2. Define safe in terms of self, others, and environment
  3. Create a class definition and vision of safe


Pen/paper, large post-its or poster paper, markers, and space for groups to brainstorm, materials to create a class vision of safe (mural paper, paint, etc)


Time Activity Notes
4-5 mins
  • As an opening to class, give each participant silent and independent time to answer the questions: “What is safe? What does it mean to feel safe and to help others to feel safe?”
Little or no prompting is necessary before this activity so that participants can bring their own ideas to the conversation without feeling like there is a “right” answer. Encourage participants to respond authentically. You may want to play soothing music during this time, or ask participants for a suggestion for a song that signifies safe to them that you can pull up online.
2 mins
Safe Vision
  • Explain to the class that, rather than telling them what safe looks like in your class, you would like them to create their own class-wide definition.
  • They are going to work together in small groups to create a “safe vision” for the classroom, establishing what feeling safe and helping others feel safe means to them.
  • Each participant already has his or her own definition, which they will use to work with a small group and create a list of things that they would like to see used in the whole-class vision of safe.
  • Once the class has created small group definitions, you will take time to examine each group’s definition, take the best ideas from each group, and put them together in one final vision of safe for the classroom.
  • This will be put up in the room and can be used to remind the class and others what safe looks like in this class.
7 – 10 mins
Small Group Brainstorm
  • Give participants time in a small group to discuss their individual definitions of safe and brainstorm a list of things they can do to feel safe and to help each other to feel safe.
    • What does feeling safe look like in this classroom? What does helping others to feel safe look like? How does a safe classroom environment look? How can each of those be added to the class vision of safe?

These brainstorms can be on large paper and posted on the wall in the room for logistics in the next lesson activity.

Things to consider in guiding participant brainstorm (to the extent that you feel it’s appropriate):

  • Provide t-charts for brainstorming, with “safe” on one side and “not safe” on the other
  • Ask participants to provide examples of actions that demonstrate safe
5 – 7 mins Every participant should have a writing utensil for this phase of the lesson.

  • Once groups are done brainstorming, make sure each brainstorm is posted on the wall or somewhere all participants can see it and write on it.
  • Then, have each participant (as an individual now, no longer in small groups) walk around the room and read the ideas on the other groups’ papers.
  • Encourage participants to make notes on the other groups’ papers when they agree strongly with another idea and would like to see it in the safe vision (you may want to set expectations for no negative comments).
  • Participants can also be encouraged to ask questions or add more information to other ideas in the room.
  • This activity should be done quietly and independently to give participants time to read and process all of the other ideas.
You can establish a code for writing on other groups’ posters for ease: a star means “strongly agree”, a question mark means “I don’t understand”, etc.
10 mins
Group Consensus and Drafting
  • Lead the group in examining the notes written on the posters and identifying trends in the ideas and the most popular ideas.
  • When guiding the group to a consensus, aim to hear all participants’ voices, avoid personal biases or their own definition of safe, and honor the participants’ vision of safe.
Depending on the developmental and skill level of your participants, you may want to step out of this phase of the lesson and allow the group to come to a consensus on the ideas in the safe vision without you.
5 mins
Final Draft

The group should establish a means to create a final draft of the safe vision, whether that is selecting a participant to write it out, having you create the large poster or some other means of writing it.

5 mins

See the questions under “Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment” below.

Have participants answer these questions in a format that works for your class, whether that is on paper, in smalls groups, as a whole-class discussion, etc.

2 mins

Post the final vision of safe visibly in the room and remind participants that it will remain up so that they can hold themselves, each other, and you accountable for the ideas that they have created.

Connections to Other Emotions

Creating a safe environment may also foster the emotions of connected and supported because when participants feel safe to express themselves, they will be more likely to open up to each other and make supportive connections.

Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment

  1. What will our class be like if everyone follows the vision of safe?
  2. Do you think your original definition of safe is captured in the class vision? Why or why not?
  3. What is one specific way (please give a concrete example) that you can help our class live up to its vision of safe?