What Can Architects Do To Design Safer Classrooms For Our Children? Part 3 Actions We Can Take To Promote Safe And Successful Schools

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Photo Source: S&S Worldwide

Policies and funding that support comprehensive school safety and mental health efforts are critical to ensuring universal and long-term sustainability. However, school leaders can work toward more effective approaches now by taking the following actions:

  1. Work with School Leadership to promote, develop and establish a “Safety Team” that includes key personnel: principals, teachers, school-employed mental health professionals, instruction/curriculum professionals, school resource/safety officer, and a staff member skilled in data collection and analysis.
  2. Work with the school’s “Safety Team” assess and identify needs, strengths, and gaps in existing services and supports (e.g., availability of school and community resources, unmet student mental health needs) that address the physical and psychological safety of the school community.
  3. Assist with the evaluation of the safety of the school building and school grounds by examining the physical security features of the campus.
  4. Safety Team should review how current resources are being applied.
  5. Are school employed mental health professionals providing training to teachers and support staff regarding resiliency and risk factors?
  6. Do mental health staff participate in grade-level team meetings and provide ideas on how to effectively meet students’ needs?
  7. Is there redundancy in service delivery?
  8. Are multiple overlapping initiatives occurring in different parts of the school or being applied to different sets of students?
  9. Safety Team should implement an integrated approach that connects behavioral and mental health services and academic instruction and learning (e.g., are mental health interventions being integrated into an effective discipline or classroom management plan?).
  10. Safety Team should provide adequate time for staff planning and problem solving via regular team meetings and professional learning communities. Identify existing and potential community partners, develop memoranda of understanding to clarify roles and responsibilities, and assign appropriate school staff to guide these partnerships, such as school-employed mental health professionals and principals.
  11. Safety Team should provide professional development for school staff and community partners addressing school climate and safety, positive behavior, and crisis prevention, preparedness, and response.
  12. Safety Team should engage students and families as partners in developing and implementing policies and practices that create and maintain a safe school environment.
  13. As Architects we can assist the “Safety Team” by utilizing strategies developed by Crime prevention through environmental design(CPTED), a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through environmental design. CPTED strategies rely upon the ability to influence offender decisions that precede criminal acts. Generally speaking, most implementations of CPTED occur solely within the urbanized, built environment. Specifically altering the physical design of the communities in which humans reside and congregate in order to deter criminal activity is the main goal of CPTED. CPTED principles of design affect elements of the built environment ranging from the small-scale (such as the strategic use of shrubbery and other vegetation) to the overarching, including building form of an entire urban neighborhood and the amount of opportunity for “eyes on the street”.

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Image Source: School Security – Threat and Vulnerability Assessments

Sources:

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) School Violence Prevention

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Framework For Safe Schools

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Look out for our next post about “What Architects Can Do to Design Safer Classrooms for Our Children.”

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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