All students need your classroom to be a very safe place, but it is especially important for students who have experienced trauma. In their book Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom, authors Kristin Souers and Pete Hall identify several things teachers can do in their classrooms to enhance the feeling of safety (pp. 103-104):
- Assigned seating. Assigned seating tells students they have someplace they are supposed to be. This leads to feelings of belonging.
- Check-in and Check-out procedures. Having students check-in/check-out daily helps gives them the opportunity to interact with a teacher, and it gives the teacher the opportunity to see how the student is doing at the beginning and end of the day or classroom period.
- Posting pictures. Think of your own home. You display pictures and artifacts from your family members and create a sense of belonging. Why not do that with your classroom “family”?
- Notes or calls home. Be sure to share school successes and concerns with the parents/guardians of your students. When you care enough to share, your students will know that you are genuinely concerned with their wellbeing.
- While human beings tend to be creatures of habit, we find comfort in those routines and rituals. Incorporate routines and rituals into your classrooms to help make your students comfortable on a daily basis.
As you prepare for next week, plan for ways to improve the sense of safety and belonging in your classroom. You and your students will benefit greatly from your efforts!