Readying the classroom for safety
If you’re like most Massachusetts educators, you’re probably eager to get back in the classroom and welcome a new group of students.
While safety is always on our minds, at Educators Insurance we’re keen to support you on all parts of classroom success — for both you and your students. We’ve gathered some of our favorite ideas to make this school year more safe and successful for everyone.
Organize for safety
Elementary school classrooms are often a hub of activity — and as the school year kicks off, all that energy can combine with clutter to challenge even the most thorough safety plans.
As you organize your classroom and determine the layout of desks to optimize learning, also consider the flow of traffic. Will students be able to quickly line up and leave the classroom in the event of an emergency? Organize desks so the main paths to the door or other exits are wide enough and can remain clear of chairs, wastepaper baskets and backpacks.
In Massachusetts, the fall can often include a few good rain storms. Consider that students will be wearing rain boots and wet shoes. Can you create an area for them to dry off or leave boots to avoid tracking water through the room and creating potentially dangerous, slippery floors? Again, look to organize desks so students can walk in with wet shoes, dry or remove them and then walk to more frequent high-traffic areas for the day.
While your bulletin boards may decorate the classroom and inspire good study habits, how do you use them to remind students of safety techniques?
Think of how a flight attendant acts out what to do in an emergency on a plane, while safety information cards and emergency exit graphics underscore the presentation — that’s similar to the information in the safest schools. Fire drills and tornado drills help students to “act out” what to do in the event of an emergency, but information on bulletin boards and in appropriate contexts can help remind them while supporting more visual learners in the right behaviors.
Make sure instructions are clear, simple and consistent and use multiple types of information designed to communicate the messages. Cartoons or charts may communicate fire safety in one corner of the room, while a clear map of the school grounds that you post near the door can help remind students where to congregate in the event of an emergency evacuation.