I came across a term recently that really got me thinking. The term is Academic Safety. We talk about Safe Schools, Safe and Caring Schools, Digital Safety, Safe and Inclusive Schools, Playground Safety, and the list goes on. There are expectations around the things we do at schools to keep students safe, but I feel there is often a piece missing. What are we doing to provide students with academic safety?
To me, the term means that we are setting the students up in an environment where there is no risk or danger involved in the academic tasks they are assigned to do. Some of the obvious things that one can consider about this kind of safety would be:
- Fear of Failure
- Fear of making mistakes
- Fear of judgement
- Fears around speaking out/having a voice
I am sure there are other things that could be on this list, but my point is, there are things that can make students feel like they are not safe to move forward academically. Students who are not able to concentrate at school because of home issues, issues around safety outside of school, and a myriad of other concerns. We need to be cognizant of the factors that are preventing students from being in an optimum situation for learning.
Schools need to be areas where the culture and expectations are first and foremost about ideal learning conditions for students. As School leaders we need to establish environments where staff are able to provide these conditions and students know that we want the best for them and are there as experts to help them learn. We always keep safety in mind, but personally I usually only think about the physical and emotional safety. Thinking about safety in ways to maximize learning is extremely vital. It’s part of the culture we need to have.