As an educational practitioner one of your main responsibilities is to create a safe and comfortable learning environment for your students, but how can this be achieved? In a new class of students it is essential to create this safe feeling from the very start of your lessons. An issue at this point could well be magnified by a vulnerable or insecure student to the point where it disrupts their learning experience.
Before a lesson even begins the classroom must be an area where equality, diversity and inclusion are practiced and actively promoted. A code of practice or ground rules may need to be explained to your students. Certain age groups may need these dictated whilst older students may need to be involved in the making up of these rules of the classroom. It must certainly be stressed to all students that the classroom is a place where everyone has a voice, but not to the detriment or ridicule of others. Whilst everyone has their own opinions and personal beliefs, a classroom is not necessarily the place to air these views as everyone has a right to be there, no matter what their sex, age, race, sexual orientation or religious beliefs may be.
A point often overlooked in creating a safe learning environment is boundaries. Boundaries not just of the teacher, but also boundaries for the student. Inappropriate behaviour from either side is unacceptable. Personal contact must be kept to a minimum. In certain circumstances this may be difficult, for example, a small child has fallen over and grazed their knees. They come to you looking for comfort and for some teachers it may be difficult not to try and soothe the student with a cuddle, but this physical contact can be interpreted by an observer to be something far more. In a situation such as this it is far better to ensure that your boundaries are the same across all age groups, you would not cuddle a grown person to offer comfort in this scenario. Rather you ensure the student has access to medical assistance and look after their well being that way.
It is a sad fact, but true, that we have to look at how our actions could be interpreted by others rather than sometimes doing what we feel may be a correct choice of action. By ensuring that all students are treated the same means that we can promote the issues of equality and help to create a safer feeling within the learning environment for them.
A teacher is a role model, however you act in the classroom,and wherever you may be observed, will be reflected in your students behaviour. If you create and promote the classroom as a safe learning environment and project yourself with an air of authority then your students will help you to create the learning experience you want to achieve for them.