Home      Organizing Induction      Improving Practice   

Building safe and supportive learning environments

Classroom management is one of the most pressing and challenging areas of practice that beginning teachers encounter. Beginning teachers who are not supported in this area often leave the profession out of a sense of frustration and helplessness. As the school leader, principals are critical in helping beginning teachers deal effectively with issues of classroom management. Principals are responsible for making sure that beginning teachers understand school and district discipline policies and codes of conduct. Principals must also help beginning teachers to resolve their immediate problems and to build safe and supportive learning environments for their students. Further, fully supporting beginning teachers requires that principals foster a school culture that is safe and supportive of all students, faculty and staff.

The following tools will help you assist beginning teachers to create safe and supportive learning environments. They are informed by the belief that care and order are mutually supportive. When classrooms are orderly, caring relationships between and among teachers and students can flourish. At the same time, one of the most important ways that teachers create orderly environments is through acts of caring. Research indicates that integrating care and order is particularly important for students who struggle academically and those who face "social borders" due to race, language, class, gender, sexual orientation or other types of social differences that are perceived as “non-mainstream”. These students, particularly at the middle and secondary levels, cooperate and achieve more with teachers who, they feel, care for their well-being, believe in their abilities and work hard to help them meet high expectations.

It is important to note that while classroom management issues are often most pressing during the first year of a teacher's career, the tools we have provided here can help teachers at all stages of their career examine and improve their practice. Building safe and supportive learning environments requires careful and continual attention to changes in student behavior and attitude, classroom, school and community dynamics, student interaction and social relationships and student learning. It also requires that teachers create an environment in which social and cultural differences are respected and cultivated as resources for learning. Principals need to support veteran as well as beginning teachers in this complex, challenging and essential work.

Helping beginning teachers form positive relationships with students  

Helping beginning teachers form positive relationships among students

Dealing with bullying

Sources of information on bullying