In previous blogs, I have emphasized the importance of being inclusive in classrooms. I have also noted how English professors have been some of the most accepting people I have encountered. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I spoke on the importance of creating and a welcoming and diverse environment in terms of sexuality and gender; however, it is also important for all minorities. The NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) created the “Statement on Anti-Racism to Support Teaching and Learning” to “eradicate acts of racism and discrimination in our classrooms, curriculum, schools, and institution” (Moore, Manning, and Villanueva para. 1). This document is important for educators and students to keep in mind as they enter the classroom, office hours, and life. Every student should feel welcomed into the classroom and feel that they are in an environment where they can thrive, both as a writer and personally.
In addition to battling racism, another important factor to keep in mind when creating a welcoming and inclusive environment is preventing harassment, such as sexual harassment. As a professor, there is a distinct difference in role and power in the classroom. The NCTE emphasizes the importance of professors and authority figures in academia to “recognize that their relationships with others always involve elements of power, particularly in circumstances where they might be in a position to evaluate and endorse subordinates’ work” (“Position Statement on CCCC Standards for Ethical Conduct Regarding Sexual Violence, Sexual Harassment, and Hostile Environments” para. 8). There is a fine line between being an understanding and friendly professor and someone who is too close to students. It is crucial for professors to set boundaries in order to maintain healthy relationships. As a person who valued the relationships I had with my professors, I want to establish myself as a professor who is approachable and friendly, while still maintaining healthy boundaries. ow a professor conducts themselves in the classroom says a lot about how students will view them. However, this can also be said about the approach-ability. A professor shouldn’t be so stand-offish that students do not feel comfortable coming to them for help. There should be a mixture of openness but also boundary-setting.
As I have emphasized throughout this blog and other blogs, creating a safe space is important for a productive space. The “NCTE Position Statement on Academic Freedom” highlights an important point in saying, ” educational institutions may present alternative views and values, but may not impose or require belief or commitment” (para. 3). I have previously expressed my opinion on allowing students a chance to find their voice and express themselves. As a professor, I will choose what type of things to discuss in my classroom, and although I will represent my opinions, I cannot force my beliefs upon any of the students. I have been in classrooms where the views of professors were extremely apparent, and I have been in classrooms where discussion is encouraged without preference toward one side of the argument. A huge part of creating a “safe space” is making everyone feel safe. In my experience, English professors have excelled at making everyone feel included and safe; I hope to do the same in my classroom.
“About Us.” National Council of Teachers of English, 2019, https://www2.ncte.org/about/.
Hunzicker, Jana. “Building Professor-Student Relationships in an Age of Social Networking.” Center for Teaching and Learning, 2019, https://ctl.byu.edu/tip/building-professor-student-relationships-age-social-networking.
Lane, Peyton. “Find Yourself in Writing.” Peyton’s Pages, 12 September 2019, https://peytonspages.com/academic-blog/find-yourself-in-writing/.
Moore, Jazmin, Logan Manning, and Victor Villanueva. “Statement on Anti-Racism to Support Teaching and Learning.” National Council of Teachers of English, 11 July 2018, http://www2.ncte.org/statement/antiracisminteaching/.
“NCTE Position Statement on Academic Freedom.” 30 November 2014. National Council of Teachers of English.
“Position Statement on CCCC Standards for Ethical Conduct Regarding Sexual Violence, Sexual Harassment, and Hostile Environment.” Conference on College Composition & Communication,” November 2016, https://cccc.ncte.org/cccc/resources/positions/ethical-conduct-sexual.
4 thoughts on “Turning the Classroom into a Safe Space”
I agree that creating a safe space in the classroom should be a concern for all educators, especially compositionists. I know I want to establish healthy boundaries not just for myself and my students but also for my students and their peers to facilitate a learning environment in which everyone can excel.
I think that inclusiveness is an important issue in all settings, especially academia. The university system’s history is one that is no stranger to racism, elitism, and exclusivity. I think it’s important that CCCC recognizes the role that we play in creating a productive environment for all students and not just a select group.
I admire your dedication to making sure your classroom is inclusive and a safe environment. If you look at where the university system began in this country and see where it is today, you will realize just how much progress has been made. As more instructors like you bring their ideals to the classroom, the more rapidly these changes will take shape.