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Developing Your School Safety Training Plan: A Comprehensive Guide to Effective Training for a Shared Responsibility

Kelly Moore
April 4, 2023

Now that we have all of our policies, procedures, and EOPs (Emergency Operations Plans) in place, it’s time to start developing your Training Plan. The Training Plan is the document you will use to inform everyone participating in school safety of what their expectations are and how they are going to be met. Since we know that school safety is a shared responsibility, that means everyone you can get to participate in this training should be considered. As you can imagine from our previous blogs and podcasts, your training plan will also be a living document that needs to be revisited and updated often. Once your plans have been completed, you will need to get the backing and support of your district’s leadership. Even with this support, you will get pushback and have to insist people participate in the REQUIRED training.

Everyone has a unique way of training and teaching others. That being said, the training process has four basic elements to be successful and valid:

  1. The Subject Matter: What is it that you want your participants to learn and know?

  2. The Training: This is where you teach the subject matter that you want to teach.

  3. Demonstration: Showing how you expect everyone to perform and apply what they have learned.

  4. Observation: This is where those who are being taught show you that they can perform and apply what you taught them at a minimally acceptable level. They will then be expected to build and grow from here. Inevitably, there will be some aspects of the training that you discover during this phase that will need to be revisited: review our blog and podcast on process improvement. This too is never-ending.

While you are constructing your plans, here are some of the things I would suggest you consider:

  1. Start by defining your overall objectives and how you are going to meet those objectives.

  2. Start with small groups who will require similar training about their functionality, expectations, and responsibilities: Safety team, support staff (broken down into their classifications), teachers, substitute teachers, itinerant employees, special education teachers, contract employees, bus drivers, etc.

  3. Divide and Conquer: Especially if you have a larger district, you will need the help of others to complete this function. Use a train-the-trainer model and have your team train different aspects of your plan.  This divides the workload while keeping a consistent message throughout the training for each of the critical functions being trained.

  4. Communicate often and keep an open line of communication: Almost every issue I have encountered in training has been the result of a lack of communication or poor communication. Incorporate a communication plan into your training plan; scheduling what communication goes to whom and when.

  5. Observe and Adjust: As complete and perfect as your first plan will be, they all need constant nurturing and attention; build this into your plan.

  6. Training is never a “One and Done” endeavor: As we all know, for the most part, school workforces are pretty stable during the school year. However, at the end of the year, it seems like someone takes all of the employees' names, puts them in a hat, and throws them in the air to see where they will land. So you will need to account for this yearly ritual. You will need refresher training; you will need to train new employees; you will need to train employees who change their assignments, and those who have different responsibilities.

When scheduling your training begins, I suggest taking an old-school, 18-month dry-erase calendar and start putting dates and times down on the calendar. Even with all of the technology available, I have found that the actual schedule construction needs to be visualized and you will need to share it with many people as you seek approval. There will be many changes to this schedule even after it has been approved, being able to rework it in this format and then transferring it to a spreadsheet and/or electronic calendar has saved me many times. There are also many benefits to technology-based calendars once your plans have been approved and “finalized”: They can be shared, you can link training materials, you can link multiple calendars together, and specific changes that have an impact on your staff can be communicated quickly and easily.

What you should minimally include on your calendar:

  1. Refresher Training: At the beginning of every school year, it should be required that every school employee participates in a refresher training course prior to the school year starting.

  2. New Employee Training: Also, before the start of the school year, every new employee should be required to participate in a full-training program; the same one you first gave all of your employees when you started this training program.

  3. New Role Training: As employees advance in their careers, their safety responsibilities will also change. Before they assume those new roles and responsibilities, they will need to be trained in them.

  4. Safety Team Training: Everything listed above applies to the safety team training.

  5. Drills/Tabletop Exercises/Full-scale Exercises: We will get more in-depth on exactly what these are in the next blog, but they will need to be scheduled in addition to the other training that is required.

  6. Partner Training: Ideally, you will have all of your partners training with your staff. However, sometimes this is unrealistic, especially when we are talking about the incident management aspect of training as opposed to the initial response training.

  7. Periodic Training Plan Review: Once or twice a semester, it is a good idea to bring all of your safety teams together to discuss what is working well and what is not working. This will give you a better idea of how well your overall program is going and what needs to be corrected.

Please understand that this is not all-inclusive and you may require additional training sessions to be added to your program based on your unique circumstances. This schedule also does not include all of the other tasks required to construct and maintain a valid school safety program. As an example; let’s not forget about all of the other aspects of maintaining a safe school environment; behavioral and threat management, access control, visitor and contractor management, etc. This is why it is so important to build a comprehensive program schedule and the training schedule is one critical piece to the success of your program.

Next week we will delve deeper into the drills and exercises needed to support your safety plans and build confidence with your staff. In the meantime, please be sure to visit all of our other blogs and podcasts for additional information. Also please subscribe, like, and share these with your colleagues and friends so you can help us make your schools and our communities safer.

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