Brave Space v. Safe Space

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??


7 thoughts on “Brave Space v. Safe Space

  1. Thank you for sharing your ways of creating the brave spaces in class. These are smart ways, especially the first one will set the tone of the class for the whole semester at the very beginning. I agree with you that teachers should manage and create with the students a free-speech environment with respect to others, and without hurting anyone’s feelings.

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  2. Yes, I liked that article and also your blog related to it. I also wrote in my blog about my experience in creating a brave space and how I can incorporate the ground rules in my course. I thought discussing the ground rules with the students as you discuss the block of text in your first class, will be a good idea to help students actually understand the rules rather than just letting them sign the pledge. Also thanks for sharing the other ideas of creating a brave space. That helps.

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  3. Thank you for this post! I enjoyed reading about your methods of creating a brave space. I think addressing each other by name shows respect and makes the conversation more personal, while emphasizing the reading makes the argument less of a personal attack. Although I do not have a classroom right now, I will also include a segment in my syllabus about the “brave space” and model this behavior. I think the teacher sets the tone for the classroom behavior; if the teacher models this respect, it is more likely (although not definite) that the students will.

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  4. Great post!

    I really appreciate the construction of brave spaces in your classroom, but I also believe you created a safe space, because the bullets provide a general atmosphere of mutual caring, respect, and support among all members in the class as well as demonstrating the value of each member and a genuineness to provide social support to one another when pushing back or agreeing with ideas or points from their readings.

    Its like the brave space has transitioned into the safe space, because the bullets imply that this environment is open or accepting for students to present their authentic selves without feeling judged, which creates a reassurance in participating (including students who are painfully shy or introverted), but to also take risks in having a difference of opinions then their peers and with the built in social support to challenge and/or change.

    Ultimately, the brave space nicely intertwined a safe space element, because each bullet is an interaction standard or community expectation with peer-to-peer interaction, individual interaction, and student-to-teacher interaction, which creates that sense of belongingness for the student while in this space and a place where their voice and their peers’ voices are valued, respected, and appreciated.

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  5. I love your idea that to have a statement in the course syllabus to clarify the respect, and ask students to create the rule themselves! It is a great idea to have a small discussion at the beginning of the course and educate students about how to respect each other’s opinions and differences, like a ethic class. If I will be a teacher, I will try to create brave space by listening to each student’s perspective and encourage them to speak out the different voice. I will also try to build their confidence about themselves.


  6. You make a valid point about it isn’t the responsibility of the teacher to manage all students “safe spaces.” Teachers aren’t counselors. They aren’t trained and classrooms aren’t the place to group therapy. I think classrooms need to be a type of safe zone, but it is not about shying away from the uncomfortable conversation or controversial discussions. I think it’s about creating a respect within the “Brave spaces.” It’s a balance act between respectful and brave. In your class, you show the little actions you can take that create respect for students that make a huge difference in making brave spaces.

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  7. i liked your post. I think it is well organized, clear and precise.

    I had one amendment to to make to this bullet however
    “I am constantly reminding the students to use the texts we read to make their arguments rather than just speaking from personal experience”

    I think it would be more beneficial if you make a statement to students to speak from personal experiences and use the text to reinforce the point that are trying to make. I know at this point I’m probably splitting hairs, we are saying the same thing just in two different ways. to provide a more inclusive environment we need to show students that they can speak form their own experiences (which is what you are allowing in you class) but to use the text to supplement their thoughts and ideas.
    Overall great post!


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