Safe & Comfortable
When we feel safe, we feel secure, with few fears or doubts. When we feel comfortable, we feel pleasant and relaxed. These feelings help us to feel more confident to express ourselves, including our genuine thoughts and beliefs. When students feel safe and comfortable, they are more engaged, take more risks in earning, and express themselves more freely.

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Turner, S., & Braine, M. (2015). Pastoral Care In Education, 33(1), 47-62. doi:10.1080/02643944.2015.1005657

This case study reports the use of the ‘safe’ concept by trainee and experienced teachers in England and uses ‘safe spaces’ groupings to allow categorising of the qualitative results obtained. The majority of trainee teacher responses related to ‘safe’ meaning a classroom where no child is embarrassed about sharing their opinions/answers, where pupils are comfortable about taking risks in their learning and one which is rooted in mutual respect. Experienced teachers reported that a ‘safe’ classroom was where pupils could express their thoughts, feel comfortable and be safe from harm. This concept has been used by all participants in this study but differently.

Nelson, R. M., & DeBacker, T. K. (2008). Journal Of Experimental Education, 76(2), 170-189.

Classmates are likely to influence classroom climate via the norms that are modeled and valued (Berndt & Savin-Williams, 1993; Brown, 1990; Kinderman, McCollam, & Gibson, 1996; Trickett & Moos, 1973). Researchers have shown a positive relationship between how involved students perceive their classmates to be in classroom activities and end-of-semester grades (Moos & Moos, 1978), number of absences (Moos & Moos), and satisfaction and interest in the class (Moos, 1978). Moreover, Sage and Kinderman (1999) reported that individual student engagement was positively related to the engagement level of other members in their classroom peer network. Classroom peers also provide information about whether an individual is an accepted and valued member of the class or school community (Goodenow, 1993a) and determine whether the classroom feels comfortable and safe (Anderman, 2003). These features of the peer climate influence individual students’ psychological sense of belonging. Studies suggest that when students feel accepted in their school environment they are more likely to view classrooms as supporting mastery and improvement (Anderman, 2003) and to pursue mastery goals (Anderman & Anderman, 1999). However, in school environments in which students do not feel comfortable and safe, social comparisons and competition may become more prominent, resulting in the pursuit of performance goals (Anderman & Anderman). Researchers have also found belongingness to be related to academic self-efficacy (Battistich, Solomon, Watson, & Schaps, 1997; Roeser, Midgley, & Urdan, 1996). Classroom norms may be supportive of or oppositional to academic success (Kinderman, 1993; Murdock, 1999; Ryan, 2000). That is, norms might encourage involvement in learning activities or discourage behaviors such as completing assignments, seeking good grades, and doing homework. Murdock reported that perceived peer resistance to school norms was negatively correlated with engagement in school tasks and positively correlated with discipline problems at school.

Patterson, C. J. (2013). Theory Into Practice, 52(3), 190-195. doi:10.1080/00405841.2013.804312

Research on LGBT adolescents has revealed that, for many, schools are astonishingly hostile environments. Much of this research is summarized in the United States Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) 2011 report, The health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people: Building a foundation for better understanding, and more detail about these issues can be found there. A national survey of over 1,700 sexual minority adolescents conducted by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that about 75% of self-identified LGBT adolescents reported hearing antigay remarks or terms often or frequently at school, and that most reported feeling distressed by this experience (Kosciw & Diaz, 2006). In the same survey, most LGBT adolescents reported that they had been harassed or threatened at school, and fully one in three reported that they had been physically attacked. It is easy to understand, then, that almost two in three LGBT adolescents reported feeling unsafe at school due to their sexual orientation.

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