Teachers can offer safety net through open door

The key ingredient to school safety lies in the hands of each classroom teacher.

An atmosphere of trust, respect and mutual give and take will open the communication between peers and the teacher of each class.

The teachers should know the students who pass through their classrooms on a daily basis so well that changes such as mood, body language, or withdrawal as well as loud behaviors should be very noticeable.

Asking a student if everything is all right as they leave class is a sign of caring and may open doors for students that want help. Stressing each day that you, as a teacher, have an open-door policy and any student may stop by for help is very comforting and students will often come when a need for adult assistance is needed.

Surprisingly enough, students will seek help for friends who are not even part of their class through the teacher that has offered the open door to them. Students often live in a world that is so hectic that they just wish to chat to an adult that will listen.

Some circumstances just require giving students options to choose to solve a problem.

What may seem like trivial problems to adults can be so serious to a younger person that it can even result in a choice of suicide. Students do listen and care about each other if the teacher has a goal that each person should aim to help and look out for others both in and out of the classroom. The teacher leads

by example.

A teacher that is “in tune” with the students can sense or feel when something isn’t right for a particular student or a whole class.

It is important to address the problem and ask, “What is wrong or how can things be made better?” A student can be stopped for a few seconds at the end of a class and reminded of the open door to return later to talk if they wish. The option to return is never required but always available.

If this safety net is present, particularly in middle and senior high schools, then students can and will seek out help where they feel most comfortable. If the problem needs to go in a certain higher direction, it can be given to other professionals to handle in the school building.

Shirley Maher Nearhoof