School Climate & Safety Opinion

School Safety and Climate: Mirrors, Tubas, and Notebook Paper

By Learning First Alliance — January 22, 2013 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Dru Tomlin, director of middle level services for the Association for Middle Level Education

As I read M.
Kristiina Montero’s article “Literary
Artistic Spaces Engage Middle Grades Teachers and Students in Critical-Multicultural
” (Middle School Journal,
November 2012, pp. 30-38), I thought about student voices and how critical they
are to school safety and climate. Our journey to better school safety involves
tentative steps and uncertain landscapes. We have safety plans, crisis teams,
and protocol notebooks--and thank goodness we do. Maybe our next steps to improve school safety and climate
should include other items on this new path; items that connect to the middle
grades student.

Step 3: Notebook paper can help us create safe

Before raiding our school’s supply closets, we should think about
notebook paper and how students use it. As a middle school student, I used
paper to take notes, write essays and stories, and doodle. Drawing cartoons and
writing silly captions in the margins of my papers gave me space to express
myself. But when Mrs. Meekins, my seventh grade teacher, drew back, I realized
I wasn’t alone in the margins. Her cartoons and comments on my papers made me
happy to be at school. She created a relationship by responding to the voice in
the margins. What does that mean about school safety? We care about what
students write on the lines of their papers--and we should. However, when it
comes to school safety, we also need to see what’s written outside the lines. When
students write in the margins, or post on Facebook, tweet on Twitter, even
scribble on the bathroom wall, they are trying to find a space to be heard. The
drawings, poems, and thoughts that end up in the margins can help us understand
our students, and create relationships that show students that we hear and care
about them. Therefore, school safety planning also means listening to all of
our students’ voices and creating safe opportunities for them to express those
voices in our middle grades schools.

While school
safety and climate planning is much more complicated than mirrors, tubas, and
notebook paper, those three student-centered steps can walk us in the right direction,
especially for our middle grades students.


Reduce Cyberbullying through Climate


Views expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the endorsement of the Learning First Alliance or any of its members.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Transforming Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety What the Research Says A Hallmark of School Shooters: Long History of Social Rejection
New research finds that shooters in K-12 schools are more often "failed joiners" than loners.
5 min read
Butler County Sheriff Deputies stand on the scene at Madison Local Schools, in Madison Township in Butler County, Ohio, after a school shooting on Feb. 29, 2016.
Sheriff deputies were on the scene of a shooting at Madison Local Schools, in Butler County, Ohio, in 2016.
Cara Owsley/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP
School Climate & Safety 4 Myths About Suspensions That Could Hurt Students Long Term
New longitudinal research shows that longer in- and out-of-school suspensions have severe consequences for students.
5 min read
Image of a student sitting at a desk in a school hallway.
School Climate & Safety Photos The Tense and Joyous Start to the 2021 School Year, in Photos
Students are headed back to school with the threat of the Delta variant looming. How is this playing out across the country? Take a look.
School Climate & Safety Former NRA President Promotes Gun Rights at Fake Graduation Set Up by Parkland Parents
A former NRA president invited to give a commencement address to a school that doesn’t exist was set up to make a point about gun violence.
Lisa J. Huriash, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
2 min read
David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, speaks during the CPAC meeting in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2010.
David Keene, the former president of the NRA, promoted gun rights in a speech he thought was a rehearsal for a commencement address to graduating students in Las Vegas. The invitation to give the speech was a set up by Parkland parents whose son was killed in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP