Creating Safe Spaces

Somewhere between Spring Break and now the tone in my classroom changed. I can’t pinpoint when it happened or why I didn’t notice the change until recently…

Well, let’s put it in perspective – I teach a lively group of middle schoolers who love to laugh and joke with myself and each other. Since I started in the job this has been one of the highlights, I just love how much I get to laugh out loud when I’m at work! The jokes have almost always been harmless and respectful… nothing to worry about I thought.

And then the switch happened. At some point the jokes became hurtful and I found myself in a disciplinary role far more often. I’ve been told that it’s common at this time of year, when the weather is nice and the kids are getting restless. I understand that part but I feel as if there must be something more. When did laughing with one another turn to laughing at one another? And why is this way of interacting deemed acceptable in some settings?

After talking with some other teachers and friends, I decided to have the “adult” conversation and let them know that I felt the way they were joking with one another wasn’t okay. We talked about how just because you think something is funny and on the outside the other person is laughing doesn’t mean that what you are saying isn’t hurtful. After that it has been easier to monitor what’s going on, reminding them of the conversation we had. So far it’s working but I am just hoping each day that it will last.

What do you do to make your classroom a safe space?

Any thoughts on the “End-of-School” attitude shift?

Be well,