Ideas to Set a Secure and Safe Atmosphere with your Teens
Setting a secure and safe atmosphere is probably of utmost importance for the teachers. As human beings one of the most essential needs we have is the need to belong. When that sense of belonging is there, children throw themselves into the learning environment. And when that sense of belonging is not there, children will alienate and step back. Thus the sense of not belonging to the environment and not feeling safe in the classroom hinder students’ learning progress. Find out more in the following video:
Hereby you can find some interesting ideas on how to set a secure atmosphere with your teens which may come in handy.
Remembering names. It’s essential to start your very first lesson with this activity. This task also fixes the names in everyone’s minds.
First of all, you need to have the class register ready or make a list of all students on a separate piece of paper. Then tell the students that you are going to guess who is who. Read one name aloud, look at one of the students in the classroom and say something like:
- I think you are Tom, aren’t you?
Wow, I guessed your name.
- Are you sure you aren’t Bob?
What’s your name then?
Make sure everyone speaks and gets acquainted with each other.
Make a warm community among your students. In your lessons include activities which will allow students to express their thoughts and build relationships with both classmates and the teacher. It will keep a feeling of emotional safety in your classroom. Such kind of activity is «Save the last word for me». It is a discussion strategy in which all students participate as both active speakers and active listeners. Working in groups or with pairs, students follow a pattern of sharing and discussing their responses to a given problem or a situation. In this video, you can find an example of this task.
If the teacher makes a clear structure of instructions, this strategy will help to make reserved students speak and express their ideas, the talkative speakers will practise being quiet.
Admit when you don’t know
I think many of us have at least once had the feeling that the teachers know everything, that they are genuine and they are not like other human beings. All these facts can sometimes create a barrier between the teacher and the students. They might not feel at ease and might be tense. In order to destroy this wall and set a safe atmosphere, teachers should admit their mistakes, thus showing their humanity. You can say «I am really not sure. Does anyone remember it?» In this way, you can engage them in the given discussion and they can try to find out the answers themselves.
Keep calm. Of course, being an adult and the head of the class doesn’t guarantee being away from nervous breakdowns. However, you should do your best not to lose your control and not to get angry. It is likely to break the safe environment that you have created so far with your teens. So, just take a few breaths and go on with the lesson.
Smile and be kind to your teens. You can be strict in your demands, but never forget to smile and be kind to your teens. Smile and kindness make them feel safe in the classroom.
Give your kids a chance to solve the problem on their own. If you see that your students don’t do homework, try to solve the problem with them. Ask the reasons and offer them to think about solutions. Treat them more like adults, but do not fail to contact parents if need be.
Learn their interests — Build lessons based on their hobbies and interests to attract their attention thus making your classes interesting and the classroom safe.
Encouraging remarks. With the help of this task, students give positive feedback to each other and feel more united in the classroom environment. For implementing this activity you should choose a student who looks worried and upset or is not interested in the class. Ask them to come to the board and stand with their back to the class. Invite other students to stand near them. Ask the students to say some encouraging things about the chosen student’s work in class. Here are some examples of good praise:
- You are doing well, John.
- You are a great person.
- I really like your English pronunciation.
Gossip. This activity is a little bit similar to the previous one. And it can also be really useful when there is a conflict in the classroom and the students’ relationships are tense. Ask the students if they know the meaning of the word ‘gossip’ and what associations they have with it. Tell them that you are going to play a ‘gossip’ game, but its rule is to say only positive and motivating things about each other. They can work in groups or with pairs. After carrying out this activity, you can discuss the following questions with them:
- Did you like the game?
- How did you feel while being gossiped about and gossiping?
Leave a positive impact. Last but not least, you should always remember to leave a positive impact at the end of the lesson. Praise your students, ask them for their feedback concerning the lesson, and tell them what are you going to learn during your next class. In this way, you will keep them motivated and encouraged.
Setting a secure and safe atmosphere allows teachers not only to launch the new school year in a proper way but also gives them a chance to «run their rooms» taking into account all psychological facts and students’ abilities.
What is the atmosphere like in your lessons with teenagers?