A Civic Mindset

Creating a Brave Space

teenage girl talks in group therapy sessioniStock

Essential Questions: What is my role in creating and participating in a brave space for myself and others?

Lesson Overview

Everyone wants a welcoming classroom where every student feels appreciated, supported and able to express their ideas. While creating a safe space has been the focus for a long time, we are now calling on educators and students to create “brave spaces.” These are spaces where everyone feels that they can contribute, that they will be heard and they are willing to challenge and be challenged. Conversations about current events, politics, race, among other topics can be difficult, but learning is likely to occur when the classroom is a brave space and everyone is willing to consider a new way of seeing things. The practice of establishing and maintaining a brave space in the classroom is one that can be reinforced and applies to learning beyond civics.

  • Download comprehensive lesson, including handouts.


In this lesson, students will learn what a brave space is, and pledge an action towards creating and/or participating in a brave space classroom


Time: 50 minutes






  • Visualize what brave space means.

  • Discuss the definition of brave space.

  • Learn the brave space requirements.

  • Pledge one action to creating and/or participating in a brave space.



Making Connections

As students walk into the classroom, welcome them and ask them to complete the warm up question that’s displayed:


Write about a time when you didn’t feel welcome. It could have happened at school, outside of school, during a sports game, etc. How did it make you feel?


Depending on your classroom, you can have students complete this by writing a few sentences, having an informal discussion with their neighbor or having a whole class discussion.

Ask students to ‘popcorn’ underline the key words about how it made them feel. Next, have them ‘popcorn’ those words and phrases into the classroom space. Then ask if any students are willing to share out more about their experience.

Display the following questions and have students answer them on a piece of paper.

brave space questions image

Tell students to hold on to these ideas for the time being, and that the group will be returning to them later in the class period.


Review the essential question for the day: 


What is my role in creating and participating in a brave space for myself and others?


Make reference to the opening journal reflection, which the class will be building on throughout the day.

Understanding Terminology

Ask students, ”What is a brave space?” Have students think about it in terms of what “brave” means and what “space” means. Once they have had time to think, ask a few students to share.


Have students look at the pictures related to brave spaces below. Tell them to take 20 minutes to look at all six pictures. While looking at the pictures, they are to write about how they think the pictures relate to brave spaces.


Ask students to note what is missing in the gallery of pictures and jot down their observations.

empty classroom
classroom high school students hand raisedADL
communications icons graphic
hs diverse group discussionADL
gathering young people shaking handsADL

Practicing Discourse

Small Group Work

Partner students together and have them discuss what they saw and any questions they might have. Consider using these sentence prompts: 


Partner A: I think these pictures represent brave spaces because ___________. 
Partner B: I see. I think they represent brave spaces because ______________. 
Partner A: One thing that surprised me was __________________.
Partner B: Yes, one question I have is __________________. 


Reconvene the whole class. Ask students/pairs the following questions: 

  • What did you notice about the pictures in relation to brave spaces?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What are your ideas about how the pictures do or do not represent brave spaces?
  • What is a “brave space”?



What a Brave Space Looks Like

Facilitate a short discussion from students’ answers to the questions just asked. Refer to the Brave Space sheet, affirming what students share—ensuring that you connect their ideas to the ten ideas listed.


Tell students that you are going to share some ideas to reflect on and practice creating, and participating in, a brave space. Share these 10 ideas with students by projecting the Brave Space sheet or distributing a copy to each student and review together.


Consider posting Brave Space sheet in your classroom as a reminder and a point of reference.


Ask students if there is anything not reflected on this list that they feel would be an important addition. And note that, like the U.S. Constitution, this list should ideally be a living, breathing document. If things come up throughout the semester or school year, the classroom group should feel empowered and responsible to suggest and make changes or additions to the list, as classroom dynamics and needs shift.



End the lesson by explaining to students the importance of brave spaces. Have them complete the following prompt:


In order to create and participate in a brave space for my classmates, and for myself I need to (Stop/Start/Continue) doing __________________________.


Explain they can pick one of the “Stop/Start/Continue” or they can do all three.


Key Vocabulary