teacher planning tool

Areas of Impact

Professional Development

Age Group

High school and middle school


45 minutes




Print Materials

SCARF Classroom Environment Planning Tool

Collaboration & Community Skills, Self-Advocacy, Self Awareness & Growth Mindset

Setting up my classroom and classroom systems with students’ experience in mind sets the foundation for their being active, interested partners in their learning.


This planning tool helps teachers organize their classrooms and classroom systems to ensure students feel safe to take risks, share, and work together.


SCARF refers to status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness, the domains of human social experience that must be considered when developing classroom environments that support all students’ success. This planning tool provides a framework for developing that environment. 

How do we use this at Gateway? During our professional development time before school starts, teachers plan their classroom environment and classroom systems to support students’ social experience in all these domains. During professional development geared specifically to new teachers, mentor teachers model systems and teacher moves that support these domains. (See Classroom Environment Planning Tool - List of Strategies.) Then new teachers also participate in a walkthrough of a model classroom to get new ideas and further develop their classroom plan. (See Classroom Set Up and Routines.)

This tool can also be used to inform school-wide practices. For example, teacher coaches and administrators might use this document to identify and support practices across the school that support all students’ success and their social-emotional safety in the classroom. Professional development can also be developed to support Social Emotional Learning using the SCARF model.


Teachers need some introduction to the SCARF domains of human social experience. This framework is often new for teachers and requires them to consider and value students’ complete social-emotional experience in the classroom. An entry point to valuing this orientation is having teachers consider times when they felt threatened or disrespected by others and how it affected their performance or perspective. By building empathy for students’ experience, teachers are more likely to structure an environment that builds success for all students in the classroom.

This tool might also be helpful for teachers to identify and work towards professional learning goals.

Related Content:

Classroom Environment Planning Tool - List of Strategies

Classroom Set-Up and Routines

Rock, David. “SCARF: A Brain-Based Model for Collaborating with and Influencing Others,” in NeuroLeadership Journal, 2008.