Safe school environment

Areas of Impact

Professional Development

Age Group

High school and middle school


45 minutes 




Print Materials

SCARF Classroom Environment Planning Tool - List of Strategies

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

By experiencing effective classroom moves during our professional development time, teachers can more effectively integrate these strategies into their own teaching.


This document enumerates teacher moves that are modeled during professional development to support a safe classroom learning environment.  


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.  

At Gateway, the listed strategies are explicitly incorporated into professional development time before the school year begins. Our new teachers are exposed to these strategies in a two-day “New to Gateway” professional development training. After this initial exposure, the new teachers tour an experienced teacher’s classroom and discuss how its design supports student success. (See Classroom Set-Up and Routines.) They then design their classrooms using the SCARF Classroom Environment Planning Tool. During professional development throughout the year, we add to these strategies.


Teacher trainers might use a blank form of this document to plan out the teacher moves they want to model. Then teachers can list the strategies and incorporate them into their own practice. Continued modeling of new strategies throughout the year builds teachers' efficacy and comfort with them.

For this particular document, 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 inclusive classroom environment that builds success for all students.

Related Content:

SCARF Classroom Environment Planning Tool

Classroom Set-Up and Routines

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