One of the supreme responsibilities of educators is shaping young minds, and part of that responsibility is setting the tone for our students to make them feel safe and comfortable inside and even outside the classroom.
A safe learning environment goes beyond the classroom, it’s the intangible space that supports our students in the pursuit of knowledge that inspires curiosity, and that makes them feel empowered to participate in class discussions.
To achieve this, all stakeholders in the community need to do their share of the responsibility. From the school principal, teachers, parents, school staff and students, there must be mutual collaboration in order to have a model school where every learner can freely move about, play and learn without any worries from their parents of any violence or untoward happening in school.
When the threat of violence becomes part of the educational setting, all learners are affected in adverse ways.
Even though your child may not be the actual victim of violence in school, there is a very good chance that he or she will witness violent acts throughout the educational years.
To provide a secure, caring, and peaceful environment that promotes learning that is conducive to the development of the whole studentry, school administrators must address several areas that may affect the learning condition of every learner in school—these include bullying, outside threats, and confrontational student-teacher relationship.
Over the years, the Department of Education (DepEd) has been very active in its campaign to promote child-friendly schools.
For safety to become part of the climate of the school, the key is communication and consistency. Rules must be strictly observed for learners, while teachers must show model behavior for students to emulate.
There is nothing better than practicing kindness and showing genuine concern for the welfare of the students. For example, a simple act of removing a stone along the pathway can inspire a child to do the same wherever he goes.
Experts say that in order for learners to feel they belong, they must be encouraged to interact and join in all school activities. This is one way of nurturing camaraderie and improving teamwork with their classmates. When our learners feel that they are loved, they will start caring for others too.
Students are better prepared for learning when they are healthy, safe and happy. It is therefore every stakeholder’s paramount concern and responsibility to improve the learning environment in schools. Setting high academic expectations will only work if we provide positive reinforcement for our learners.
Research has shown that an engaged learning environment increases students’ attention and focus, promotes meaningful learning experiences, encourages higher levels of student performance, and motivates students to practice higher-level critical thinking skills.
By modeling and encouraging a safe learning environment, teachers can help produce world-class graduates from a child-friendly school. Our young learners are, after all, our best investment for the country’s future.
The author is Assistant Principal Designate at Ballesteros National High School, Senior High School Department in Ballesteros, Cagayan.