Create and Maintain a Safe Learning Environment

You can create and maintain a safe learning environment by…

a. Minimizing students’ concern for public speaking and make them feel comfortable to express their thoughts and ideas.

b. Asking questions that gauge students’ understanding.

c. Providing positive reinforcement.

What students say about what makes them nervous in the classroom?

  • Afraid of being judged
  • Don't want to sound stupid
  • If no one else speaks in class, it becomes awkward to speak
  • Don't want to be placed under a spotlight
  • Worry about not being able to articulate question/opinion well
  • Worry about having a foreign accent (for international students)

Want more concrete guidelines?

Here's a list of Dos and Don'ts:


• Physical comfort — e.g. ask if every one can see the board.

• Psychological comfort — e.g. encourage students to participate and ask question.

• Provide feedback — e.g. Give praise when students get the answer correct. If they get it wrong, you may say "good try!"

• Be understanding — e.g. try to understand students' problems from their perspective.

• Be respectful to students — e.g. acknowledge their individuality,learning style, and personality.


• Don't make fun of students' comments.

• Don't dismiss students' questions or concerns.

• Don't interrupt students' responses.

• Don't embarrass your students.

Useful Resources

USC's Center for Excellence in Teaching "Creating a Supportive Environment" Online Module:

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