Experiential learning is the key to success.

One of the most important components of one’s school safety climate is the preparation undertaken to effectively manage a life-threatening emergency and mitigate the effects. Many schools now possess crisis response plans, but are they training to the plan? If not, they are setting themselves up for failure. Administrators often quickly discover inadequacies in the plan when it is put to a practical test. In fact, the most effective method by which you can discover “gaps” in your security posture is to test it within the conceptual framework of realistic scenario-based training exercises. Inadequacies in the plan will become evident during the exercise and it is essential that these be recorded immediately following the exercise. A thorough debrief should be conducted in which “all voices in the room” are heard and consideration should be given to all viewpoints. This technique of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) has several important effects–by placing value in the input from every stakeholder, it increases both morale, cohesion, and buy-in from all organization members. Often, certain personalities tend to dominate meetings and committee discussions. By including all individuals in the discussion, those who typically refrain from adding input are encouraged to do so–and their input may be the solution to the gap in your security posture. This methodology then allows administrators to take the input and use it to refine the crisis response plan. When the next exercise is conducted, it is done in accordance with the new and improved response plan. This is an ongoing, iterative process–and a true mark of a learning organization.

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