Opal School closed in 2021. You can continue to access these resources for free at teachingpreschoolpartners.org/resource-library/.

Being Safe to Risk

Being Safe to Risk

What lives between the comfort zone and the danger zone? It’s a place where you feel safe to risk. It’s the zone we work to stay in at Opal School. It’s the zone we believe that Vea Vecchi might call the Aesthetic Dimension. The place that Elizabeth Gilbert might say is where you find what you love more than you love yourself. Opal School’s fourth and fifth graders were asked this week what they value about having a community where it’s safe to risk. Here are the things they named: someone will be there for me; I can count on people; persistence; support and caring; belonging; welcome; sharing ideas; new friendships; all feelings are okay; togetherness; joy; flexibility; breaking barriers; you feel needed and wanted; collaboration; comfort; love; perspective taking; you can do more than you thought you could do; interdependence; encouragement; just do it; new ideas and solutions you wouldn’t think of on your own; discovery; beauty; courage; you can be who you want to be; teamwork; curiosity; empathy; being brave; inspiration; growth; stepping up; determination; you can always fix a problem and you’ll get stronger for it; everyone working together.

opal 4 circles

We believe that it is vital for children to practice living in school communities where we intentionally seek interaction inside this zone — this dimension. We want to avoid the comfort zone of complacency, control, obedience, and the Right Answer. We want to reduce fears of the danger zone by making the in between a wide and welcoming place, where we confront conflict with courage, playfulness, and curiosity and where we are mindful of the lasting damage caused by shame and blame. If we practiced these habits in school, I wonder if we would have to worry so much about the health of our democracy.

What do you value in a community where you feel safe to risk?

What are you willing to do to support such a community?