A Crucial – Yet Overlooked – Responsibility by Alexander Garey
What are the responsibilities of the school?
This is actually a fairly difficult question to answer as the responsibilities of schools often differ based on the needs of the students and surrounding communities. I believe we would all agree that teaching students and moving them forward in any way would be one of the main themes we would hear if we surveyed educators. Academics have overtaken the educational system since before educational institutions were even officially created. Even according to Merriam-Webster, the definition of school is “an organization that provides instruction: such as an institution for the teaching of children.” As an educator, I also believe that academics and learning are some of the most important responsibilities of the school system, but what about safety?
Where does safety fit?
I want you to try something. Go to any search engine and search for images of this term: “school responsibility wordle.” For those that may not know what a wordle is, it is a collection of terms that are often used to ‘define’ a specific theme where the larger words have a greater impact on the definition. What you will find won’t exactly shock you; you will see that many of the wordles have terms such as learning, students, teachers, creativity, academic, technology and many more. Although it is in some of them, what you will be hard pressed to find in most is one word: safety. Safety in schools is one of those underlying responsibilities that everyone has, but it is also one of those things that is not often discussed until after something happens.
As a former second grade classroom teacher, it was a true hassle to work through safety drills or deal with the safety of students when one of my co-workers was out of the building. The issue wasn’t that the substitute teachers were incapable of working effectively in safety situations: the issue lied in the fact that they were often ignorant about what was expected of them as they were not the normal staff in that building. There needs to be a better way to train substitute teachers of what to do when it comes to emergency situations, and this feat is even more difficult for larger districts.
Share your thoughts! What is your school’s responsibility when it comes to safety and how do you help ensure substitutes are prepared for emergencies?