Creating a safe learning environment for your students is key to helping them achieve their academic goals and optimizing their educational experience. When students walk into a classroom they shouldn’t have to worry about safety, they should be focused on learning. And, when parents send their students to school, they shouldn’t have to worry about their well-being and security, instead they should feel informed and connected.
Building a secure district doesn’t just come from locks on doors and cameras in the hallways. It encompasses an entire safety strategy that has strong communication at it’s core. Keeping parents, community members, students, and staff informed during daily activities and in crisis and emergency situations is the foundation of a safe learning environment.
Read the following tips for creating a safe learning environment:
- Brainstorm different crisis situations and outline plans for each scenario. Be sure to include message and communication templates.
- Create guidelines for teachers, staff, and administration to follow during emergency situations. Include FAQs, evacuation routes, lockdown plans, etc.
- Be the first to communicate your side of the story. You don’t want to play catch up to local news sources or a student’s social media posts.
- Use words and a tone that de-escalate the situation
- Ex. Instead of saying “A student was choking at lunch and had to be rushed to the hospital.” You could say, “A student had an allergic reaction and is being checked out by medical staff.”
- Establish key talking points for internal and external audiences and connect back to them as often as you can.
- Ex. When answering questions from the media or community members, answer the question then bridge to one of your key talking points.
- Work with outside resources as needed such as emergency services, police department, and the fire department.
Discover how Fort Osage School District (MO) creates a safe learning environment for students are ensuring their schools are safe and secure and check out the infographic (text alternative below) to see how communication leaders across the U.S. are using communication to create a connected, informed, and safe space for learning.
Communications leaders speak up about safety, security and parent communication. Hear what they have to say about their top challenges, most effective types of communication and key priorities for their safety and security strategies.
Communication leaders identified the following as their top challenges:
- Sending effective and prompt communications during emergencies: 50%
- Communicating with parents: 38%
- Reaching the right audiences with the right communication channel: 35%
- School safety: 29%
Communication leaders identified these methods as the most effective for helping their district reach communication goals:
- School or district Facebook account: 76%
- School, classroom, or district informational website: 74%
- School portal that includes information on grades and assignments: 68%
- Text messages to parents’ mobile devices: 64%
- Broadcast or announcement messages to student’s home or parents’ email: 58%
- Mobile app: 49%
Communication leaders identified the following as a priority for their communication efforts this year:
- Share “good news” about school and district success stories: 81%
- Build or enhance district brand/reputation: 69%
- Build trust and confidence in our local schools: 64%
- Increase parental knowledge about school and district policies and programs: 50%
Project Tomorrow, Speak Up Survey, 2015