Don Shomette

People are the Prize

What Do You See Wednesday (Review & Discussion) 12 March 2014

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Let’s review and discuss the last, ‘What Do You See Wednesday’ from 12 March 2014.

Here’s the picture


I posted this picture because I wanted to talk about the stairs and give some tips for making them a little bit safer.

Designated directions.
This school has designated an ‘up’ and ‘down’ side for the students. Besides the arrows indicating which way the student is supposed to travel, there is also a metal rail that physically divides the two sides. This is a great way to reduce space conflict. Meaning, students that are using the space to walk down the stairs will not be in conflict with students using the stairs to walk up or…one gaggle of students cannot run into another gaggle.

For the schools that do not have a dividing rail to physically separate the two sides some have painted arrows on the walls and even stripes on the floor to help control movement.

Remember, this school had serious safety concerns and needed a dozen security officers to maintain control. Separating the students and making them all move in one direction helped a great deal to reduce fighting in the stairwells.

Shut it down.
Another technique is to shut down a specific stairwell to student movement. Don’t lock the doors, but just close the stairwell down so students cannot use them unless it’s an emergency. This is a great technique for limiting student access to spots that are difficult to observe, high risk areas where trouble seems to always occur, or if manpower is low and you’re spread too thin to cover everywhere.

Teachers should still use the stairwell to ensure that it is not being used as a spot for students to hide or to do bad things.

Own it.
Stairwells are often ignored because no one really owns them. Identify the adults that are near the stairwells and ask, plead, and or assign them to help own the stairwell. I would assign several adults to one stairwell and have them take turns supervising the space. Someone must watch them during class change and occasionally search them for indicators of violence or other unwanted behaviors.

Most schools only have a few stairwells and they don’t have severe safety issues.  With a good plan and a coordinated response you can enjoy an immediate improvement with a little bit of effort.  For schools that ignore their stairwells, they can and will cause a terrible amount of heartache for such a little space.

Author: Don Shomette

Don Shomette is a trainer, speaker, consultant, and owner of People are the Prize, a violence prevention company that helps people to prevent and survive a school attack. He has spent a lifetime working with police officers and principals and is consistently evaluated by those who attend his trainings as one of the best instructors ever. Don challenges, entertains, and helps school personnel to think of preventing violence in a new and positive way.

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