Classroom safety issues must address physical, emotional and intellectual property rights of students, teachers and others. These helpful tips provide the framework for making your classroom safe for everyone.
Keep the classroom well organized & clean
A dirty, cluttered classroom can be dangerous. Here are few ways to keep the classroom clean and well organized:
• Keep backpacks off the floor – Students can trip and fall over backpacks left on the floor and they can provide a means of spreading lice and bedbugs.
• Require frequent hand washing.
• Teach students to sneeze into their elbow if a tissue is not available.
• Provide appropriate cleaning supplies, paper towels and hand-washing soap.
• Remove students who exhibit illness or aggressive behaviors from the classroom.
• Notify administration of any cleaning or safety concerns.
Create & teach disaster plans
Most schools have developed fire drills, evacuation plans and lockdown procedures. Teachers should practice these with students regularly enough to make them an automatic response. Without adequate practice, students are apt to panic, making a dangerous situation even worse. Disaster plans must take student age and ability into account.
Bullying in the classroom and on the playground must not be tolerated. Bullying has been shown to have long term affects on bullies, victims and even observers. Teachers can work with students to help them understand what bullying is, best responses, and reporting procedures. Also, teachers who make a point of behaving respectfully towards all students and who teach students that each individual has rights and valuable talents will boost student confidence. Empowering students with this knowledge reduces the likelihood of bullying from occurring. Students who demonstrate bullying behavior should be removed from the classroom and provided with counseling.
Protect property rights
As anyone who has been the victim of theft knows, it can be emotionally and financially devastating. Classroom theft can take many forms. It is not simply a matter of personal items stolen form backpacks and jacket pockets. Plagiarism and cheating are two other forms of theft faced by many teachers each day. Younger students don’t necessarily understand the implications of cheating, stealing or claiming someone else’s work as their own, while older students may feel compelled by peer pressure or they are looking for an easy way out of doing the work themselves. On the surface, this may not seem to be a safety issue. In the long run, however, setting clear, enforceable rules regarding personal and intellectual property rights helps all students feel safe and secure. It also teaches valuable ethics and life skills.
Set a good example
Children learn from what they see others doing. If a classroom is loud and chaotic, injuries are more likely to occur. In the same way, teachers who lose control of themselves are teaching students to do the same. Inside voices, clean habits and respect for one another should be demonstrated in everything a teacher does within the classroom environment.
Creating a safe classroom environment boosts academic and social learning. Students who do not feel safe are less likely to apply themselves to their studies and many students drop out of school due to safety issues. Teachers can make their classroom safer by maintaining clear, enforceable rules, keeping the classroom clean and well organized and teaching students how to respond to a variety of potential dangerous situations.