Psychological Safety

What is Psychological Safety in an Educational Setting?

Psychological Safety in an educational setting refers to an environment in which individuals, both students and educators, feel secure and accepted, allowing them to express their thoughts, ideas, and opinions without fear of negative consequences. It is a critical component of a positive learning atmosphere that fosters open communication, collaboration, and risk-taking, ultimately enhancing the well-being and academic success of individuals within the educational community.

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How Educational Leaders Can Use Psychological Safety to Promote Teacher Agency and Improved Teaching and Learning:

Encouraging Open Communication:

Creating Inclusive Environments:

Supporting Risk-Taking:

Providing Professional Development:

Modeling Psychological Safety:

Establishing Clear Expectations:

Promoting Collaboration:

**Also see [Learning Community>Leadership]

Application to Student Group Situations:

Team-Building Activities:

Establishing Group Norms:

Peer Feedback:

Project-Based Learning:

Conflict Resolution Skills:

Regular Check-Ins:

Student Leadership Opportunities:

By prioritizing psychological safety, educational leaders contribute to a positive and supportive learning environment, enhancing both individual and group agency. This, in turn, leads to improved teaching and learning outcomes as students and educators feel empowered to take risks, share ideas, and engage more deeply in the educational process.

Source: ChatGPT

Better Leadership and Learning with Psychological Safety

Whether you're an educator aiming to enhance learning through group activities or a leader guiding adults within your school or team, the common question prevails: How can I establish an environment that ensures success and fosters growth? Research consistently points to a key factor in promoting effective teamwork and creativity: Psychological Safety.

In this compelling video and article "The Guide to Psychological Safety featuring Amy Edmondson" from The Learner Lab, featuring founder Trevor Ragan emphasizes the significance of this concept and why it's essential for groups to thrive.

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Psychological safety revolves around our perception of how the group will react to our presence and actions. It delves into questions like: Can I express myself freely? Can I voice my opinions? Can I make mistakes without fear of reprisal? Can I take risks without judgment?

In teams with high psychological safety, members are confident that their peers won't embarrass or punish them for admitting mistakes, asking questions, or presenting new ideas. Conversely, in teams lacking psychological safety, individuals feel inhibited and apprehensive about taking such actions.

Consider the scenario of joining a new team at work with a vague project brief. The dilemma arises: Should you inquire about the project's end goal, risking exposure of your lack of understanding, or do you remain silent to avoid drawing attention?

In a psychologically safe group, individuals are more inclined to ask questions because they know there won't be negative repercussions. This fosters a conducive environment for open communication, leading to a deeper understanding of the project for the inquirer and clarification of goals for the entire group. Essentially, everyone benefits from this type of interaction.

Psychological safety actively promotes and rewards individuals who step out of their comfort zones. The best teams recognize the value of such contributions, creating a culture that encourages exploration and innovation.

Important Benefits of Psychological Safety

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In a learning community, akin to team members in an organization, it is crucial for students to experience a sense of security when expressing their thoughts, posing inquiries, embracing lessons from errors, and undertaking interpersonal challenges. Learn more about Psychological Safety by reading this article by Dr. Catlin Tucker.

Making Your School Psychologically Safe

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Fostering inclusivity demands ongoing effort from every community member, with the entire school sharing responsibility. Genuine inclusion starts with leaders setting a tone of acceptance, permeating throughout the community for growth in acceptance, trust, and learning. The article provides ideas for some places to start.

Related Article: 7 Ways of Creating Psychological Safety for Students | ISTE | May 31, 2023

What Are Psychological Safety’s Four Stages?

Although the exact stages may vary in different models, a common framework includes the following four stages:

Stage 1: Inclusion Safety

Can I be my authentic self?

Stage 2: Learner Safety

Can I grow?

Run Time: 2:03Source: Leader Factor Website

Stage 3: Contributor Safety

Can I create value?

Run Time: 1:31Source: Leader Factor Website

Stage 4: Challenger Safety 

Can I be candid about change?

Run Time: 2:02Source: Leader Factor Website

** It's important to note that these stages are not necessarily linear, and teams may fluctuate between them based on various factors. Creating and sustaining psychological safety requires ongoing effort and a commitment to fostering a culture of trust, openness, and respect within the team or organization.

Psychological Safety: From Theory to Practice

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Can You Have Too Much Psychological Safety?

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This episode by Culture by Design explores whether there can be such a thing as too much psychological safety, prompted by a Harvard Business Review article. They argue that excessive psychological safety might hinder accountability and performance. Defining it as an environment of rewarded vulnerability, they emphasize the importance of inclusion, learning, contribution, and challenging. They discuss the leader's role in setting boundaries and clarify that psychological safety doesn't endorse reckless behavior but encourages incremental innovation. 

Linked Article

Professional Reading

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