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The Risks of School Leadership Starts With People

Posted by Scott Barron on Apr 10, 2015 8:47:54 AM
Scott Barron

Our new Tuesday Webinar series, The Risks of School Leadership, started this week with a look at the various people that may threaten the safety and stability of the school. The risk of school leadership starts with people--including teachers, coaches, board members, parents, bus drivers, neighbors, and even a stranger who is an aggressive threat such as a shooter who has invaded the campus.

Danger Zone Sun Tzu

Our goal is to help you Prepare for the worst, but expect the best. You want to make decisions out of wisdom and conviction rather than fear and uncertainty. It may be unusual to think about the enemies of your mission, but ignoring this reality doesn't make it go away.

Talk About It

Talk about the temptations and risks. Teachers and coaches must avoid situations where they might be alone with a student in a classroom, bathroom, locker room, auto, etc. Effort should be made to avoid social media connections with students, and absolutely no texting with students. Talk with board members about various scenarios that have arisen at other schools and what you are doing to prepare for and avoid those situations.

Identifying best practices and the consequences for crossing boundaries is a the first way to keep the focus where it should be--fulfilling the mission through a safe environment for students. This includes with part-time coaches and substitute teachers who interact with your students.

Train & Prepare

Train and prepare as a team in order to anticipate issues and respond in a manner that best supports the mission. When it comes to the safety and security of your campus, success really does favor the prepared. What will you do if a stranger invades your campus? How will you handle it when a faculty member violates a critical school policy? Who will manage your communication messages and sequences?

Invest in Prevention

Invest in common sense prevention that will reduce the risks for you and your students. It's likely that your expertise in school leadership doesn't include mastery in managing major threats. I've met a few exceptions, but it's wise to utilize professionals in your ecosystem who can reduce your liabilities in a variety of situations. The effectiveness of your fire drills, for example, can be drastically improved through some specific practices, and your perspective on campus security will expand greatly once you've had an expert like Ariel Siegelman of The Draco Group provide an assessment and develop a training plan.

Monitor the Media

Find a way to efficiently monitor the social media usage of teachers, staff, coaches, students, etc. You're not the digital police, but it just makes sense to help your people avoid the temptations that can be so damaging to everyone. Using a few volunteers who have a passion in social media and also have a high degree of wisdom and emotional intelligence is one option that some school leaders have employed.

Follow the Plan

Stick to the plan when a critical event happens. Your preparation and training should be carefully followed so that you can learn and make improvements. Practice is always a good idea, and include how you will manage communications before, during, and afterwards.

Hopefully you won't have to deal with the many threats that people pose to your school and leadership, but it only takes a few Internet searches to realize that the probability is high enough to be prepared.

Topics: Webinar, Administration

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