Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Adults (Teachers, Staff, etc.) Need To Maintain Control and Morale during a School Incident

A Mexican Teacher Setting The Example:  The accompanying video is of a kindergarten teacher (Martha Rivera Alanis) in Mexico. The teacher is keeping her young students calm during a drug cartel shootout adjacent to the school where five people outside of the school were killed. The teacher and the students were not injured. The teacher keeps the students focused on singing a song as you can hear the gunfire. While this was not an Active Shooter attack against the school, each incident requires adults to assess what is occurring and influence as positive an outcome as you can influence.

Points for Consideration:  The adults (teachers, substitutes, cafeteria staff, etc.) are the authority figure in the classroom (library, cafeteria, main office, etc.) who needs to maintains their composure in a crisis. Students will often gauge their response based upon the adult's example and response to a crisis. In numerous past discussions with students about their Sept. 11th experiences, the memory that most often sticks out in their minds is how their teacher and other adults in the building / room reacted on that fateful day. A hazardous incident can be scary enough, but it can be made even worse by adults losing their bearing and emotions in front of students. As I have often told young military leaders, that in a crisis situation they need to control their emotions in front of their subordinates to maintain group control and unit morale. Teachers, staff, first responders, and military leaders are human and have human reactions which can't be denied, but need to be self-managed in a crisis if at all possible. Sometimes you need to "act calm" even if you don't feel that way. Focusing on the professional tasks you need to complete in an incident will distract you from your personal feelings. In a crisis, "the eyes of Texas" are upon you so always consider what you are doing, saying, and even how your face looks. Try to keep the students focused on something (keeping quiet, singing, playing hangman, etc.) appropriate for the incident at hand.

We all hope we will have the presence of mind to help our students RESPOND to a crisis which helps lessen the psychological trauma in the RECOVERY to an incident.   

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