Last week, about 10 of our juniors were in placements that went on high alert because of a shooting threat. Among other things, it made us aware that our students aren’t trained in their placement crisis policies. We are working on how to make that happen. Most of our students are feeling vulnerable and are looking to us for guidance. Do any of you have something already in place to address these issues?
In an attempt to have our students understand school policy, school boards, and state laws, we address the creation of two relatively current school policies (related to school safety) and subsequently the procedures supporting the policies in a seminar course, the semester prior to student teaching. During this semester the students are in the field 2 days/week.
We specially look at the Illinois School Safety Drill Act (ISSDA) and illustrate how state statute generated the creation of policy. The students have to read the policy for their field placements and we assess the students’ understanding by having them “write a newsletter” to the families of their students explaining the procedures for practicing the drills defined in the ISSDA.
The other policy that we examine is the bullying policy. Again students have to read the respective policies of the districts and look at alignment with procedures in student handbooks. We also use the Bullied materials (DVD, discussion guides) from the Southern Poverty Law Center. We assess the students by having them design a lesson addressing one aspect of bullying (as required by law), tied to social emotional standards.
For both of these policies/assignments, students are expected to talk with their teachers to learn about teacher responsibilities for all drills and bullying procedures.
We have also had students involved in a lock-down in a neighboring elementary school. I’m not sure these assignments lessen the students’ fears but the assignments do give the students some knowledge about the intentionality of planning for school and student safety.I think this topic deserves our attention. Collectively we have spent hundreds of years in schools. Based on our days, weeks and years WE need to make the decisions about how to make our school safes – not the NRA or the gun industry.