Create a Conducive Learning Environment- Physical Safety


Teacher’s diary

Another word for create is to ‘produce’. Others are: fashion, construct, manufacture, make, fabricate and build. All of these similar words carry a sense of causing so ring to happen, inspiring or bring about a tangible reality or an experience.

Every good teacher or instructor any sort wants the environment in which they teach or lecture to be useful or helpful for learning to occur. The famous psychologist Abraham Maslow, with his Hierarchy of Needs, left the educational world a pictorial legacy, a pyramid of factors necessary for the attainment of an individual’s intellectual potential. Maslow felt that for anyone to learn, their basic needs like food, shelter and safety must be met.

Physical safety is not just about ensuring that your classroom has locks and keys. It encompasses much more than this and with the potential of impacting on the health and psychological wellbeing of the students. Below are some practical ways to foster the physical safety of your learning environment.

1) The layout of your classroom should be simple and uncluttered. Clear pathways in between tables and to exit door(s) must be see-able and free at all times.
2) All sharps like scissors, compasses and bottles must be safely stored in labelled pen-holders, trays or boxes that your students can make as projects.

3) Potentially harmful substances like washing up liquids, bleaches, detergents, fuel, scourers, and so on, must be kept out of the reach of your students. You should maintain locked marked cabinets for such substances and supervise their uses at all times.
4) Electrical leads, cables, wirings, sockets or plugs must not pose any hazards to your students and staff members. Tape off any live-wirings to avert electrical shocks and get lose plugs and sockets fixed immediately.

5) Ensure that food items or class-plants do not cause allergic reactions to any of your students. You must seek to know every student’s allergy status and avoid their contact to allergen that may bring about adverse reactions. Remember that some allergic reactions can cause breathing problems or lead to the death of its victim.

6) Are your students’ furniture safe? Are they old, rickety and unsteady? All missing screws and bolts should be immediately replaced. Your classroom furniture should never place your students at the risk of falls, injuries or splinters entering their skin. Mites, damp molds on classroom furniture and classroom walls must be addressed and kept under control.

7) Always be mindful of your students seating arrangement and groupings. Look out for those strong-willed, bullying or unaccommodating students that may want to make the classroom experience of other students unbearable. You must demonstrate tactfulness in allocating seats to students and ensuring the fluidity of seats so that no particular student ‘owns’ a seat or sits in one for too long.
8) Display posters are perhaps the most effective visual way to keep entrench your subject matter and topics in the minds of your students. Get them to also moderate the psychological and emotional tone of the class. Create them to foster ideals such as: respect, tolerance, civic duties, acceptance and impartiality,

9) Provide essential break-times, counselling, first aid attention, functioning and clean toilets and drinking water for your children. All of these satisfy for their basic health and safety needs.
10) Change the look of your class periodically. You might want to do this mid-termly, termly or according to themes or topics. This not only provides aesthetic satisfaction but indirectly encourages your students to embrace change.

Omoru writes from the UK