Is a Return to School Safe? Building a Sense of Safety

By Dr. Tracy Vasquez and Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick

Girl in a mask working on homework

As they prepare to resume their normal teaching and learning, teachers and students may be hesitant to resume their previous routines in their classrooms. What can you do to ensure a sense of safety in challenging and uncertain times? Despite the environment that we all return to, below are some strategies that you can implement to ensure a sense of safety and normalcy for students and their families.

Agenda or a Visual Schedule

Having an agenda and/or visual schedule allows the students to be informed and prepared for the day’s learning experiences. This will allow the students to look forward to the day’s activities and motivate them for learning. For example, you could schedule an engaging science experiment in the afternoon and link it to an English Language Arts standard in the morning.

Learning Targets

In addition to posting an agenda or schedule of events, you can prepare the students for the specific content and skills that they will be learning for each lesson. For example, in Mathematics, you could post a student friendly learning target or objective: We will be able to multiply and divide four digits by two digits. For English Language Arts: We will be able to compose a two-stanza poem using alliteration. Having the students chorally read these objectives will communicate clear expectations for the lesson. It will hold students accountable for their own learning.

Grouping Tasks and Staggering Deadlines

To avoid students becoming overwhelmed with the deliverable for the lesson, you can hold informal conferences with your students. At those individual or small group sessions, you can go over the expectations and together create strategies to organize their time and actions to meet deadlines. For example, you can pair complimentary activities into smaller and manageable sections. To further make students accountable for their own learning and time management, you can lead them in small group discussions where they can create graphic organizers or other tools to self-manage.

During these challenging and uncertain times, providing a sense of safety and normalcy for the students will assist the feeling of anxiety by students and their families. You can help that they continue to feel safe and supported by communicating your class routines and schedules with the students’ families. You will be consistent in your expectations, and model what families can do in their homes to establish a safe and normal learning environment at home.

Now that online classes are becoming more common, consider enrolling in one to see how it fits with your lifestyle and learning needs. If you desire to become a teacher or grow in your role in education, consider one of our Teaching and School Administration degrees. Click the Request Info button at the top of this page to learn more and get started on your learning journey.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.