I loved the article by Arao and Clemens, Brave v. Safe Space!!!
It’s not my job to create a safe space for my students, I’m not a licensed counselor nor can I manage 39 different “safe spaces” all at once. What I can do is offer them a space to be brave in my classroom and manage it in such a way that when students speak they can be reasonably assured that no other student or myself will attack them personally, but will only agree or push back against their ideas with other points from the readings.
I try to create brave spaces in a number of ways:
- I have a block of text in my syllabus concerning respect and we had a 10-minute conversation on the subject the first class period;
- At the beginning of the semester, I asked each student to make name tents, similar to what we have in the pedagogy class, and required each student to use another student’s name when responding to them directly. I also model this behavior for them constantly;
- I ask that students look at the person who is speaking. If I could, I would arrange the desks in a circle but with the large class and small classroom size mismatch, it’s not possible this semester;
- I am constantly reminding the students to use the texts we read to make their arguments rather than just speaking from personal experience; and
- I had the luxury or creating my own reader for my course, so I try and always explain why I have chosen to use the readings I did.
One thing I wish I had done that the article mentions is to create ground rules with my students and have them sign it as a pledge to adhere to the group norms that they themselves had created.
How do you try and create Brave Spaces in your classroom??