Education Reform From the Teacher's Perspective

Monday, November 19, 2007

There are many steps a school and all involved stakeholders can do to prevent school violence. It is important to realize that without parental, staff, community, and emergency personnel support, school violence prevention may be ineffectual or entirely without merit.

There are many steps involved in making sure that a school is safe from violence both within and from without. One such first step would be for school administrators to prepare a comprehensive security assessment, observing and recording such information as the school’s physical layout, already placed security measures and policies, as well as who needs to be contacted the event of an emergency (Preventing School Violence, n.d.)

Another important piece of the prevention puzzle is student enforcement and rules. Consistency in enforcing existing rules and making sure that all students are kept up to date whenever new rules are implemented is vital to making sure there are no misunderstandings or students cannot claim lack of knowledge. School rules should be posted visibly in classrooms and other student meeting areas, as well as mailed home to parents. Additionally, violations of school rules should be consistently enforced and disciplinary action should be based upon previously established policies (Preventing School Violence, n.d.).

A third critical piece of prevention is staff/faculty support and training. Teachers and other support staff often make up the first line of defense in potentially violent situations. As such, it is vital that teacher reports of problems in the classroom should be quickly investigated and rule violations enforced. Additionally, providing resources such as training and meeting time for teachers to collaborate on classroom management strategies and creating a classroom environment that is conducive to learning is vital (Preventing School Violence, n.d.).

Students who are expelled for violations of zero-tolerance or other policies implemented to avoid and prevent school violence need support outside of school to both prevent future occurrences and also to educate the student on proper behavior. Programs for expelled students need to be in place such as: alternative education facilities, individual and group counseling, and awareness of the unique issues affecting the student and finding solutions that allow for eventual re-entry into the school environment, assuming the student did not commit a crime, in which case, the court system needs to handle the issue as well (Preventing School Violence, n.d.).

There is a great deal that needs to be done to both prevent school violence, and to react appropriately if violence does occur on a campus. Administrator awareness to possible problems, a caring and supporting staff, and community support and involvement are all necessary pieces that must be in place if we as educators are to prevent harm to ourselves and the students we endeavor each day to enlighten and educate.
References
Preventing School Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2007, from International Assocition of Chiefs of Police Web site: http://www.theiacp.org/pubinfo/pubs/pslc/svprev.htm


Dr. James Norwood is a middle school teacher (English/Language Arts and Drama). He is very passionate about true education reform that reaches all students and all parents. Dr. Norwood possess a PhD in the area of curriculum and instruction and spends much of his time working with his school and district developing a more holistic approach to the curriculum. Contact me james@drjrn.us

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