Students cannot learn in a classroom that is not safe, nor should teachers have to teach in one. A variety of strategies performed by teachers, administrators and schools can help creative a positive and safe learning environment.
Make certain students understand what is acceptable
Students need to understand what they can and cannot do in school. Students should not be allowed to get away with hurting others or making threats. The teachers should go over the rules thoroughly with students to ensure understanding.
Create a safe way for children to students to report concerns
When a crime happens in a school, the teachers, parents and adults often say they could not see it coming. The unfortunate thing is when the students say they knew about the planned attack or had suspicions, only they did not know how to tell anyone or that they should. It is important for students to have an easy avenue to report any concerns they have about a threat, whatever it is.
There should be multiple ways that students can report concerns. There should be a guidance counselor, teacher or another school official for the student to speak to at any time. It is also important to provide a way that students can make reports anonymously. If another student is acting erratically or in a way that draws concern, a whistle blower might be afraid that the student will go after him or her. They may be afraid to speak up unless there was a way for them to do so without revealing their identity.
It is not only important to provide these ways for students to make their voices heard, but to make sure they know about them. You can hold a school assembly about school safety and go over procedures. You can send material home or make announcements on the public announcement system. Repeat this communication throughout the year so that it is always fresh in their mind.
Respond quickly to incidents
If a problem occurs, it is important to examine and respond immediately. For instance, if a student is making threats, then proper disciplinary procedures should be enacted.
It is important that every threat be taken seriously. A threat may sound empty and might even be taken as a joke, but there may be more substance behind it than anyone realizes. Any threat, no matter how credible or not, should be investigated.
Create procedures for emergencies
Different emergencies may arise in a classroom. It may be a weather related emergency such as an earthquake or a tornado or a crime related emergency such as a break-in. It is important for specific procedures to be enacted to deal with these. For instance, the school can set up a system with their teachers so that if they get on the announcements and say a code word, the teachers close their doors and have the students sit in silence. They can also have practice drills for the different emergencies.
Students have the right to learn in a safe environment. Schools should constantly evaluate their safety procedures to provide a positive place for children.