The nation’s attention is once again on its schools for tragic reasons. With another school shooting, some of the country is speaking out against guns, some are fighting to keep them, but everyone is concerned.
And whether or not more gun laws are the answer, the sad truth is schools must be prepared for these situations. Though, with talk of shootings and emergency situations almost becoming the norm, how do we make sure our students are taking safety drills and preparation for lockdown seriously?
Get Teachers On Board
In an article out of Wyoming about preparing students through drills, a student commented that they could often tell, after the alarm went off, that it was a drill because the teachers didn’t look worried. While it can be a lot to ask to have teachers “act worried” it is important that they are portraying the seriousness of the situation to students. If kids can sense the adult isn’t taking it seriously, they won’t take it seriously.
Impress on them how important it is they act as though the drill were a real emergency situation.
Ask the Students to Speak Out
When the drills in a Phoenix high school weren’t going so smoothly, these students took matters into their own hands and made a training video.
Students are always more likely to listen to their peers than an authority figure. Reach out to those that the other students trust and ask them to reach out to their peers. Whether it’s through a video, the school paper, or just chatting with them, encouraging them to talk about important issues in their everyday will help them face the seriousness when it comes time to practice or face the actual situation.
Ask Parents for Help
Make sure that school isn’t the only place kids are hearing about the importance of safety drills. Encourage parents to bring the issue up at home and get their cooperation when it comes to student participation. If parents are apathetic about the situation at home, students will bring that attitude to school.
Parents may also know the most effective ways to talk to their kids without scaring them.
Keep it Age Appropriate
For the very youngest children, the less they know, the better. Simply ask them to follow the instructions given. As students get older, it is up to parents and teachers how much they want to share, though older students may not be as willing to cooperate if they don’t know the facts, and they are probably getting them on TV anyway…
Whatever you decide to share, it’s best to find a balance between preparation and scare tactics. Students need to understand the seriousness of a potential situation, but you also don’t want them too scared to come to school. This is where making sure you are thinking about the ages of the students can help.
However you choose to portray the seriousness of emergency drills, remember, open communication is the most important thing.