A critical component of the safety and security puzzle is the ability for one to consistently stay alert, attentive and observant. Without constant nurturing or by putting the appropriate pieces in place, it is completely normal for educators to experience some form of vigilance fatigue. As the frequency or media coverage of tragic incidents within schools decreases combined with a lack of regular stress inoculation or the psychotherapy method intended to help us prepare in advance to handle stressful events successfully and with a minimum of upset, we, as educators with our unending list of roles and responsibilities, are easily susceptible. However, a built-in system for worthwhile professional development along with shared relationships between school officials and community resources such as local law enforcement will help cement safety and security procedures in one’s muscle memory.
Using a Holistic Approach
Apply The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective written by representatives of The United States Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation to create threat assessment teams or a group of officials that convene to identify, evaluate and address threats in each school building within the district. Reviewing a student’s personality, family, school and social dynamics through the use of this standardized method for responding to threats is critically important and can assist with avoiding another tragedy. When developing these teams, be sure to include all staff members each student may come in contact with throughout the school day. Do not forget to add outside resources as well. Said resources include, but are not limited to counseling services, fire, police, etc.
Partnering with a community based counseling agency is a practical and proven way to address student mental health. These newly acquired professionals will most definitely impact the student body as well as the teaching staff. Many of these organizations work closely with school counselors to facilitate opportunities for ongoing professional development thus educating everyone on what to look for in regards to a child’s deteriorating mental health. This symbiotic relationship provides a network of interconnected faculty working together to ensure a successful educational experience that helps recognize thriving students and the warning signs of those who may be struggling. Building these personal yet professional relationships with each child is necessary in order to connect life at school and at home with the added bonus of further safeguarding the school district.
Incorporating Technology Where Appropriate
Emergency Management, a virtual safety response tool to develop and execute an effective school safety program, provides a simple, yet comprehensive approach to school safety and security procedures; holding everyone accountable for providing a safe and secure environment. In an effort to stay proactive, perform monthly evacuation drills, discuss table top exercises and share current hot topics and relevant research with all staff often through the use of regularly scheduled newsletters, white papers, etc… The software platform organizes much of this information in such a way that it provides school administrators with an excellent opportunity for oversight without having to micromanage.
3M’s Safety and Security Window Film, the Lockdown Response System, Bearacade, the Visitor Management Solution and LobbyGuard are just a few more of the ways in which school districts can provide their community of learners with enhanced materials to help fortify overall safety and security protocols. This, as part of an innovative, comprehensive and holistic approach to keeping the education of the whole child in mind as described above can assist schools with providing an environment that is safe, secure and conducive to learning.