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Consider: pandemic segregation, growing tensions within the country, conflicting masks empowered and debated and fought over whether they should achieve disease and/or fear of disease and death, news of racist incidents, increased violence against Muslims 20 years after 9/11. Students are returning to school in stressful circumstances, many of them struggling to deal with the events of the past year. As a teacher, you can help by ensuring that your classroom is a safe space that meets the academic and emotional needs of your students.
A safe space is an environment where students are free to make mistakes without long-term judgment or ridicule, and where they can have critical, honest, civil and challenging discussions on sensitive topics. As an educator, you want your students to feel comfortable with difficult subjects in the classroom.
How to create a safe learning environment
Draft (or revise) your syllabus: include a diversity statement that you intend to foster a diverse learning environment; This will help set the tone right away. You can choose authors of different races and plan to invite professionals from different backgrounds into your class; This normalizes the idea that we can learn from people who don’t look like us (or, in some cases, do look like us).
Be sure to include programs in your syllabus that celebrate different identities and cultures and encourage students to accept differences. In any case, consider giving extensions. Many students are experiencing emotional exhaustion and receive additional sympathy and understanding from you to help them deal with the grief surrounding current media events.
Set up your classroom and discussion procedures: When setting up your classroom, make sure it reflects the diverse learning environments you advocate in your syllabus: choose images that show a wide range of races with different characters; For example, show Asian astronauts, black doctors and Latino professionals, and don’t rely on stereotypical images when you hang posters on your walls. Invite people with different abilities to attend class presentations and, if you can, invite leaders in your community with disabilities to visit your class.
Consider alternatives to class discussions, such as online discussion groups, where students don’t feel isolated and can express their views anonymously. You may not even need to adjust this argument, or you may be able to do so within your limited capacity.