Over the years, we’ve watched many schools navigate leadership transitions. From Heads of School and Principals to APs and Deans, changing leaders can have a big impact on many aspects of a school’s work. One of these is safety. When a leader departs without transitioning their safety vision, knowledge, and resources, this can significantly hinder a school’s ability to keep the safety program running smoothly.
So, if you’re among the (many) schools planning a leadership transition this summer, here are five things to add to your to do list in the coming weeks to ensure your safety program is as resilient as possible:
- Assign a new incident commander: If the departing leader is your school’s Incident Commander for emergencies, ensure someone else on campus is assigned to this role before the current leader departs. Set up a meeting between the outgoing leader and incoming Incident Commander to ensure the successor knows what's expected and understands how things have played out in the past. (Pro-Tip: Take this opportunity to prep your back up Incident Commanders as well. You should have a minimum of 3 backups, but strive for 5-7.)
- Trade the “book of secrets” on safety: When leadership transitions occur, the success of an outgoing and incoming leader become connected. The initiatives and programs the departing leader has put into place will only be successful if the incoming leader is equipped to continue to build on them. This applies to safety as much as it applies to anything else at a school. Knowing the “back story” behind certain decisions and understanding the various perspectives related to safety will help ensure incoming leaders are equipped to keep the current safety program in tact.
- Build a drill schedule and training plan for the fall: A new head/school leader has too many other things to tackle in their first few weeks to be able to build a drill and training plan for the new school year. If you haven’t already, consider building a drill schedule now for the fall to make this process easier and ensure drills happen on schedule to set everyone up for success.
- Help them keep safety on their radar: Talk with the incoming leader about their past experience with emergency preparedness, safety, security, etc. And talk with them about the resources available – including Joffe! – to help as they work to keep students safe. Here are five steps you can ask them to take to bring them up to speed:
- Join Joffe Academy (a free or paid account) for access to dozens of courses that teach best practices and build skills in emergency management.
- Email Joffe with any questions that come up during the transition, or to schedule any services you might need following the handoff - such as a safety assessment, ongoing consulting services, or health or security services.
Managing a handoff is never easy, but taking these steps will help ensure your safety program is covered, and your school remains as safe as possible for the coming school year!
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