Fostering Community from the Inside-Out
A Vision for School Safety
One of the most significant steps you can take when it comes to implementing initiatives and reaching organizational goals such as School Safety, is growing and maintaining healthy, active relationships. Districts find that executing a vision can be more seamless and successful when trusting, transparent organizational and community relationships are in place. Yet, this step is often circumvented due to time constraints and planning logistics. No doubt a grass-roots community building takes time and effort. But it is critical to obtain the support and commitment needed to successfully carry out your School Safety vision over a multi-year period. The more people who understand what you are trying to do and how students will likely be impacted by it, the greater commitment and support your stakeholders will demonstrate.
Relationship building starts with regularly connecting to your constituents about the district’s School Safety vision, aligned initiatives and goals with your local partners, community members, parents, building administrators, teachers and students. Depending on how far along you are in the process, you might be interested in forming a steering committee representing multiple perspectives to create a shared vision. Wherever you are, consider regularly asking for feedback and provide open, transparent communication pathways. This feedback cycle will assist you in developing the next phase of the initiative.
Pinpoint digital and face to face opportunities that offer synchronous and asynchronous communication.
You will notice a domino effect occurs when positive relationships are in place.
- Buy-in from multiple entities maximizes visibility of School Safety
- Visibility increases accountability
- Accountability increases the likelihood of success in terms of improved student well-being and safety
- Positive student outcomes demonstrate a Return on Investment when it comes to the digital solutions and programs adopted by the organization
Districts across the country are joining the Safer Schools in America Impact Initiative, led by Global Grid for Learning (GG4L) and McREL using a framework based on the National Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Program from Title IV-Part A. School Safety is beyond background checks, visitor check-in software and intruder procedures. It offers a multi-faceted framework that looks at:
- Emergency Preparedness & Management
- Emotional & Behavioral Health
- Physical Health & Wellness
- Physical Campus Security
- Digital Safety
It is not likely that stakeholders and board members will protest about investing in School Safety and making it a top priority for your organization. But what may happen is that something gets lost in the translation of School Safety. It extends beyond physical campus security. That’s where using standard visuals, description and definitions comes into play. Regardless of who is facilitating or contributing to a School Safety conversation, developing a common language across the board ensures that everyone hears the same message. This simple but intentional act will dramatically elevate misunderstandings and confusion while talking about how the district intends to secure the safety and well-being of its students and staff.
While the activities and outcomes will vary- the vision is driving everyday Safety in Schools. Specific examples of implementing your vision effectively include the following:
- Align training and professional development activities to the vision outcomes within schools as well as district sponsored training and PD.
- Request that all building administration include the School Safety vision and goals within their school improvement plans by integrating it into existing priorities and initiatives.
- Capture students and classes in action that represent vision outcomes through video and audio recordings that are shared out via social media and website.
Consider two-three recommendations you can start integrating into your existing processes and activities. Impactful, committed community building can be so powerful and rewarding for all parties involved. Inclusiveness and trust draw people in and keep them coming back for more.
If you haven’t already, consider joining the Safer Schools in America Impact Initiative as a next step. As a part of the program, schools qualify for grants that fund between 2 and 5 pre-integrated innovative safety EdTech solutions from over 25 global providers to be deployed and measured at no cost to the schools for a minimum of three-year program term.