Ideas for Establishing a Safe, Inclusive Learning Community
Across the United States, students are returning to school amidst another nationwide tragedy. And once again, teachers are faced with the challenge of establishing a positive, safe, and reflective classroom in the wake of horrific violence. The staff of Facing History and Ourselves has produced the Teaching Idea “Teaching in the Wake of Violence” to help educators address recent attacks in a manner that focuses on emotional processing (heart before head) while building community resilience. Facing History is also providing teachers with a Back-to-School Toolkit to help them establish a safe and inclusive classroom culture. Lessons in the one-week unit ask students to consider how, together, they can create an open, supportive, and reflective learning community.
Each month we publish blogs and several newsletters full of digital learning, funding, professional growth, social media, and STEM resources. Below are items from our blogs and newsletters that educators turned to the most in November.
Students come to school with, as Dr. Adolph Brown describes, two backpacks. One of the backpacks contains academic tools, such as pencils, calculators, and textbooks, that represent their readiness to learn. The second backpack represents the invisible emotional weight that burdens each student entering our school buildings. Anxiety, stress, rage, self-doubt, and low self-worth resulting from bullying, child abuse, substance abuse, and neglect cannot be unpacked and shoved into a school locker. This backpack accompanies students throughout the school day and impacts their engagement, attentiveness, and interactions. Educators don’t always see the contents of this backpack, yet they witness its negative impact on student learning every day. So how can educators and leaders reach these students? How can we unburden them and teach them coping and relationship skills that allow them to participate in their education fully?
Simple Interactions, a project of the Fred Rogers Center in partnership with researchers at Harvard University and University of Pittsburgh, has been adopted by schools, afterschool and summer programs, and other organizations for children in 35 states and several countries, including in China, Canada, and Scotland. Under the program, educators’ interactions with children are filmed to help strengthen relationships and educators’ professional growth.