Creating a school culture of safety goes far beyond an anti-bullying campaign. Keeping students safe both physically and emotionally requires an atmosphere in which students and staff are all working together to protect the learning environment.
This means fostering an inclusive environment, where students and teachers work and learn together, and where social-emotional learning is at the core of the culture.
It is not enough to let students know that they can seek help when they encounter a bully; you need to build an environment where the values and standards are clear and permeate throughout every extension of the school.
When students are learning together, there is a greater feeling of inclusion and safety.
Positive discipline is also key.
- How are healthy behaviors supported and detrimental behaviors discouraged?
- Is your discipline providing opportunities for growth and learning, or is it an arbitrary deterrent?
Utilizing social interaction in curricula helps to foster better relationships, and multi-grade collaboration fosters safety by expanding networks and experiences.
It’s also important to eliminate undue pressure and stress, much of which can be created by a lack of equity (equality of treatment for all students). But equity can only be achieved when your school culture is safe for both children and staff to authentically engage, learn, and take risks.
Teachers in an equitable school are intentional in understanding the school community both racially and culturally. This means recognizing their own biases and continuing to learn more about other cultures. Additionally, encouraging students to learn more about their ethnic background and share can help build better relationships between students!
Safety is paramount to student success. Until students feel physically and emotionally safe, they will be unable to engage and fulfill their potential.