Many of our students, and staff, consider school their safe haven. Some feel more comfortable at school, than they do at home. They consider school a place where they can be who they want to be, to share how they are feeling, to know they are there to learn but also to have fun, to be comfortable in their own skin. But, are we really doing all we can, to ensure this ‘safety’ is across classrooms, and not only in one or two?
As a PE teacher, I move between several physical classrooms a day, just like the kids. There are some rooms that are dull, empty and quite frankly depressing. No colour, no motivational quotes, no student work and the room left in an absolute tip. I hate going into these spaces. I don’t feel like I want to be my best in there, I don’t feel I can succeed in there, and I don’t feel excited about teaching and learning in there… imagine how the kids feel?
Comparatively, walking into a space that is exploding with a rainbow of colours, lots of things to look at, and clean and tidy working spaces, really makes me feel at ease. Me, as the teacher. Me, before the lesson has even begun. Me, the one who is the role model. Students can quickly get a vibe from the teacher, and if their teacher is at ease, is excited by learning, is feeling positive about the environment they are in… this directly impacts the kids and how they feel.
Sure, we can develop close relationships with our students to encourage trust and respect.
Sure, we can create a culture within our students to be empathetic, open-minded and non-judgmental of others.
Sure, we can provide opportunities for students to analyse, review and discuss different opinion pieces or topical issues.
But what about the physical classroom from the moment a student walks in. Do they feel excited and positive to be there and in turn more likely to open up, share and feel at ease? Or do they feel a sense of dullness and close themselves off?
Think about it.
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