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  • Writer's pictureThomas Kadelbach

Emotional Safety - What do our students say it is even during worldwide crises?

Last winter pre-COVID-19 our families, students, and alumni identified that emotional safety was very important to them but that we were not doing as good of a job as we would be doing in this area. Since COVID it has become even more tricky.

Emotional Safety is tricky. What is it? Does it mean the same to all of us? What do you see and hear in a school where it is present AND thriving in each interaction? How is it different in a virtual versus an in-person learning experience? Does it vary across different cultures? Is it between teachers and students, parents and staff, students with other students, or all of the above and more? What does this look like when the world is in a crisis like COVID-19?

The National Equity Project definition of educational equity as, "Educational equity means that each child receives what they need to develop to their full academic and social potential (NEP)." Emotional safety is a part, a big part most would argue, of students getting what they need. However, educational equity is not something you do to kids but what they are a part of.

Over the next few weeks, students will be working out what our definition of emotional safety is in their own words and collectively we will build meaning for ourselves and what it looks, feels, and sounds like at our school. We could have started with the experts telling us what it is. However, we wanted to first start with students' voices and perceptions. Then we will look at experts and analyze and dialogue.

Our process over the next month or so:

  1. Students develop individual definitions and perspectives in Advisory

  2. They create a shared definition within their Advisory including what it is and isn't

  3. We bring together perspectives across all advisories to map similarities and differences and ensure the incorporation of all voices. Simultaneously we will read some of the experts and determine who to inform our work with theirs.

  4. We'll take it back into advisory to ensure each student sees their words, feelings, and perspectives present

  5. Then we'll incorporate it into our Restorative Practices conversations with students especially in Circles and Affective Questions

I'll keep you updated on how it goes.

What suggestions do you have for us?

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