Lately we’ve been discussing what you should be doing during July and August, and what strong leadership looks like. When we combine strong leadership with those who are prepared for the upcoming school year, it’s a recipe for a strong safety culture when it matters most.
In the last blog, we discussed all of the tasks and planning that are going to need to be completed for any hopes of a successful school year. But if you look at that list, you are likely shaking your head at me because you are already identifying the many obstacles and roadblocks that will need to be navigated and broken down. You are asking yourself, how am I going to manage all of these tasks? You are also likely going to ask yourself how you are going to get the time allotted to you to conduct all of the training, drills and exercises, and other activities that will need to be completed to have a successful school year. This is where good, upfront and honest leadership will be required and very useful.
In most school districts, the planning for the school has already occurred and is pretty much set in stone. However, during the latter part of July and the early part of August there will be several opportunities for your intervention. If you haven't already secured the time you will need to accomplish everything you have set out to complete, develop a plan. Not only should you tackle what you need to do this year, but also realize that if you don't get into the normal planning cycle for next year, you will likely have to play this game all over again and every year after. Make sure you are an active participant in the school year planning each and every year.
While planning is the first major step in securing the time you will need, knowing what you are going to say, how you present your message, and knowing your audience, will also be a major factor in your success. This is because you are going to have to meet with almost every administrator, both district level and building level, to get their buy-in for your safety program and give up some of their time with their staff for the training and other things you need to accomplish. Here are some of the meetings that you should be looking to join to ensure you have buy-in from your entire school district administration team:
What are you trying to accomplish at all of these meetings, some of which look redundant? For the most part you are trying to get buy-in, support and most importantly, commitment from everyone involved; starting at the top and working your way down the ladder. If you start at the top and the primary person for the next step understands what was said and committed to at the higher level meetings, then it becomes a matter of presenting needs and expectations (both what you expect from them and what they can expect from you). As with everything that has as many components, facets and complications, communication will be key to your success.