A Common School Problem and How to Fix it

Many school districts I’ve encountered have a problem. Here’s the problem, and here’s how to fix it if it’s happening to you.

  • The administration, school staff members, parents, or school board members worry that they have a safety problem. They hope the problem will go away. They believe their district really isn’t at high risk for safety problems, anyway. Since these beliefs are not strategies and don’t actually change anything, the problem persists.
  • Next, instead of getting expert help, they do some research on their problem. They look online for answers, even though they aren’t entirely sure what they should be looking for. They ask colleagues and contacts for advice, even though these people lack the expertise they need. They piece together a few safety components and create a plan. Now, they have a plan, but it’s accompanied by a nagging worry about whether it’s a truly comprehensive plan.
  • Their problem then gets progressively worse. The school district now has the equivalent of a severe health problem that was ignored in the early stages and has worsened, demanding immediate action.

If we had a serious health problem, would we continue to ignore it while it got worse? We need to view school safety as the equivalent of that serious health problem.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • The first step is accepting that there’s a problem and that it won’t just disappear. Burying our heads in the sand does nothing to help the situation. In fact, it actually makes things worse.
  • The next step is to get the expert help we need. We’ll want to to find someone who understands the specific safety challenges we’re facing, and has experience fixing them. If we can find someone who has worked in, and understands, school dynamics and challenges, that’s even better.
  • Next, we need to eliminate obstacles. Often, the biggest barrier to increasing our school’s safety is concern about funding. Schools are juggling many mandates and requirements with ever-shrinking budgets. However, we always seem to find the money for the really important things. It’s a matter of mindset. We need to make school safety a priority.
  • Finally, we simply need to start. Implementing the steps above will get us going in the right direction, and help us resolve our school safety problem.

If you still aren’t sure where to start and want to bounce a few ideas around, I’m happy to have a chat with you. Simply contact me here with your questions.

If you’d like to explore both on-site and online safety training options, read this.

What Type of Administrator Are You?


Administrators: What's Your Type?

I come across many different types of administrators in my work with schools. Each is unique in the way he or she approaches school safety. I think we can learn something from every one of them.

What type of administrator are you?

  1. One type of administrator worries about being adequately prepared, but isn’t sure what steps to take to augment the district’s current safety plan. She is also worried about the cost of improving physical safety and training staff and students. This type of administrator would like to do more, but isn’t sure where to start.
  2. One type of administrator attends conferences and reads a lot about school safety. He worries about school safety and makes improvements where possible but isn’t sure the district has a cohesive and comprehensive plan. This administrator wonders whether piecing together various components adequately addresses school safety.
  3. One type of administrator considers the time savings in adopting a school safety or crisis response plan from another district or consortium. While administration has the best of  intentions, everyone is busy and no one has had time to personalize the plan yet. Many staff members have not read it in detail. This administrator worries about exposure to a potential lawsuit should an emergency occur in his or her district.
  4. One type of administrator takes school safety very seriously but does not have the time to invest in it herself. She assigns the tasks to other staff members and trusts that they are doing a good job with it. They very likely are doing a good job, but this administrator could be caught off-guard if something happens and she comes under fire for not knowing the ins and outs of the district safety plan.
  5. One type of administrator understands that he needs to do everything possible to keep the school community safe and that safety is not his area of expertise. This administrator trusts a professional safety consultant to review the district’s current safety status and assist with filling any gaps. This administrator sleeps well at night, knowing he has done everything that can be done to protect those in his care. Should something happen in his district, this type of administrator will likely be held up as an example of an outstanding, caring and prepared leader whose foresight has saved lives.

If you value the types of things discussed in this post, you’re the type of administrator for whom I write this blog and the type of person with whom I work best. To learn how I can help your district significantly improve its level of safety, contact me to arrange a no-cost no-obligation consultation.