Students look up to their teachers, whether they admit it or not. When a student gets sick in class, scrapes a knee, or breaks a beaker, someone runs and gets the teacher. As the teacher in the classroom you are the one person who can fix any problem. What many people might not realize, though, is how much work goes into keeping students safe even before anything can go wrong.
There’s no way possible that you can prevent anything bad from ever happening on your watch, but you can definitely take steps to maintain a safer classroom for everyone. Take a look at these 3 lesson ideas to help create an injury free classroom so students can spend less time in the nurse’s office and more time gaining valuable knowledge in your classroom.
Be Proactive, Not Just Reactive
It sounds like common sense, but teachers wear so many hats that it can be really easy to forget one of them. Make a checklist of important safety measures and necessary information for emergency situations so that everyone is prepared for predictable scenarios in your classroom. Go over this information with your students at the beginning of each year or semester—they need to know what to do if something happens, not after it happens.
The school takes care of things like fire drills and tornado warnings, but you should explain any potential dangers specific to your classroom and supplies as well as any safety equipment you store nearby. Students who have already been given important safety information are much more likely to react responsibly in the event of an emergency.
Keep Your Students In The Loop
Especially when working with something like lab equipment, most teachers know to explain the rules of use before letting students touch anything. What many teachers don’t do, however, is explain why students must do certain things and must not do certain others.
It’s easy enough to tell students that they need to wash their hands before and after working in the lab, but it might not seem like an essential step to them unless they understand that there’s a legitimately good reason to do it. “Standard lab safety” and “good lab practices” probably don’t make hand washing sound very urgent, but explaining that toxic chemicals can enter the body through the mouth and other sensitive areas will probably convince them a little better. “Because I’m the teacher and this is my rule” can work for some things, but we suggest being a little more open with your students if you really want them to understand and stay safe.
Keep a tidy classroom
In a good active learning environment, there are many tools and supplies available for classroom use—and we want you to use them! The problem is that sometimes there can be an abundance of things that aren’t stored properly, which is an accident waiting to happen.
Messy and cluttered classrooms pose safety risks for many different reasons including fire hazards, issues of cleanliness and contamination, and slip/trip/fall hazards. Make it a point to keep your classroom clean and organized to minimize the risk of student injuries and health risks. Keeping your students free from harm is a pretty high priority, and one of the most basic steps that you can take is providing a tidy classroom each day. We know teachers take great pride in making their rooms look inviting and fun, so just make sure all of your supplies and equipment are tucked away safely!
Like we said before, there’s no way to suspend your classroom in a magical bubble of safety, but you can use these 3 lesson ideas to help create an injury free classroom. Let us know in the comments if you have any other good tips to keep your classroom safe.
Once you’ve taken some steps toward a safer classroom, you can focus on keeping your students engaged—check out this free ebook for student engagement!