When listening to school administrators discuss student learning, both passion and focus rise to the top. At the Superintendent level, there is little doubt that most of their legacies are built by showing steady academic progress across their students. They’re able to do this despite the challenges of funding, unpredictable use of technology and for some ––the need to unify a range of instructors across common, proven learning practices.
When we dig a little deeper, the question of creating better learning environments emerges. Better facilities, more interactive classrooms, access to technology are all high on the list. Eventually, we touch on the topic of student safety as part of learning. “This is our top priority,” is a frequently heard statement. Who would argue with this?
Schools have many priorities; keeping students and staff safe is undoubtedly important. Updating safety plans annually, practicing safety drills and working with safety professionals are foundational. But if safety really is a (the?) priority––and makes a difference in learning––then the use of improved tools that coincides with these stated priorities needs to take place. It’s time to move beyond traditional paper-based procedures to build a new foundation for more comprehensive and adaptable digital safety plans.
There’s little argument that becoming––and then remaining–– a classroom teacher can be a rewarding career. But the sacrifice of long hours, sometimes difficult conditions, and an increasing number of changes means teachers must be incredibly adaptable.
Boosting learning for every student has also been a challenge—taken on largely by the individual classroom teacher. In a few cases they may receive extra help from a student, parent volunteer, a foundation grant to purchase supplies and perhaps even some additional technology. Which one of these factors makes the biggest difference to learning––and what inhibits creating better learners?
Dr John Hattie tackled this issue decades ago; his work is titled “Visible Learning.” The body of work and his supporting research is enormous––but for the most part he answers the fundamental question: “What works best for learning?” It’s worth knowing that in our world, he uncovers many misconceptions about students and learning.
And it’s fair to say that until educational leaders––including teachers––get 100% on-board and implement his scientifically-based recommendations, elevating learning will continue to be an uphill battle.
If you are a school board member in Michigan, you probably know that there are a few state-required updates centered around school safety. What are they and how might these change school safety?
Michigan now requires results of safety drills to be posted on each district website, along with other safety related data. There’s also a requirement for students and staff to participate in at least 10 drills during the school year—though there are certain restrictions with the specific drill-types and timeframes. A summary is listed by clicking here
Why do we share these details? Because we are in the business of keeping students, staff and schools safe with a BETTER SAFETY PROCESS. Safety should still be the priority, but it should not be difficult or expensive.
I recently listened to Michele Gay who is co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools. She shared that when organizations rely on 3-ring binders or a few key people to alert them about a safety issue—problems can multiply. Michele speaks directly to this: she lost a daughter in the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.
At CrisisGo, we address school safety in a no-nonsense way—with specialized 2-way communication tools for phones and pads. We use audible alerts, controlled (but comprehensive) messaging, emergency contacts, safety calendars—all from the palm of your hand.
Our CrisisGo software is the most comprehensive safety software for schools; it can be used with almost any smartphone or tablet. It’s instant, managed, integrated and 2-way. Because our software allows customization for each staff member…every action-response is known to the specific user. The result is a much safer school environment, staff that is more knowledgeable about safety procedures—and a much better-prepared community.
You might say that schools that use CrisisGo are prepared 24/7/365 for anything…bullying, severe weather, accidents, lockdowns…whatever might be a SAFETY CONCERN in the district.
The business of selling to education is complicated and many times loaded with organizational, bureaucratic obstacles. For those companies that are willing to deal with delays and glacially shifting requirements, the rewards offer substantial opportunity to profit. But this comes at a price: The best solutions can be easily overlooked. The result is too often the acceptance by schools of mediocrity in place of something better.
Most schools tell us safety is their #1 issue. Never has there been a more important concern in all schools than keeping kids safe. When we visit with safety officers and administrators it seems a large part of their plans involve using local law enforcement to assist. Dialing 9-1-1 is the standard.
The challenge for each of these organizations is that during a crisis that affects many buildings––like severe weather or a chemical spill––local emergency teams are greatly strained. Openly discussing these types of incidents with staff should be part of a total Emergency Response Plan (ERP). Doing so creates a greater awareness of the critical importance of having a safety action plan that is accessible, up-to-date, coordinated and responsive.