Take a moment to imagine the following classrooms . . .
This classroom is focused on procedures and routines. Students come into class and check their homework for the right answers. The teacher records homework in the grade book (could be a score on the number of correct answers or could be for completion). Students do an opening activity for the day's lesson, the teacher teaches the lesson/concept, and students get some work time on an assignment until the class is done.
This classroom is focused on what the students know/don’t know. Students come into class and immediately star two problems from the homework that they want to discuss with their table group. Table groups work together on the problems that each starred, sharing how they solved/attempted the problem. The teacher asks groups to share out with the whole class any problems that are still unclear. The class works through these problems, and then the teacher gives a formative assessment with similar problems students were just doing to check for individual understanding. The teacher collects and sorts the formative assessment as students work on an opening activity for the day’s lesson. The teacher introduces the lesson/concept for the day and then, during work time, meets with groups of students broken into groups according to the formative assessment sort.
After reading about these two different classrooms, what do you notice? What do you wonder?
I know when I think about my own education, I had many classrooms that were exactly like classroom A and very few like classroom B. I also know that when I started teaching, I ran my classroom very much like classroom A; it is what I knew and was successful in. I wonder: If I had learned in more classroom B experiences, would I have started running my own classroom that way?
Academic Safety--encompasses the social and emotional safety of the student and the student’s perception of his/her ability
The classroom scenarios above have different levels of Academic Safety. Some may think that students in classroom A have more academic safety than classroom B. However, after reading the book as well as these articles (see below) it becomes evident that it is actually classroom B that has more Academic Safety.
Alber, Rebecca. "20 Tips for Creating a Safe Learning Environment." Edutopia. September 2011.
Gonzalez, Jennifer. "Is Your Classroom Academically Safe?" Cult of Pedagogy, October 2, 2016.
Dance, Rozlynn & Kaplan, Tessa. "Talking in Math." ASCD Express, July 26. 2018.
A closer look suggests there is more academic safety in classroom B. The book and the articles, mentioned above, summarize key ideas teachers should think about to foster academic safety in their classrooms. Below are seven ideas to try in your classrooms to build academic safety for your students:
By incorporating even one of these ideas into your classroom, you will be helping to support the social-emotional well-being of your students and as we know, this is huge undertaking. If we build trust among our students and ourselves, we instill the importance of being ourselves, in both the good and the bad moments. By teaching and showing students that it is okay to vulnerable and take risks, we are providing them with the academic safety they deserve. This can lead to empowering them to achieve to their highest potential and lead to better life long outcomes. What are you willing to try this month to build academic safety in your classroom?
This post brought to you by Jen Coenen, Secondary Implementation Associate and STEM Village Director
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