Sunday, September 13, 2015

6 Updates to Welcome Your School Community + Prepare Students For Success

Schools should be welcoming environments for students, staff, parents, and community members, but they often don't feel that way. Unmarked doors. Uniformed guards. Impersonal communication. Ear-piercing bells. We can do better.

Which school would you rather enter?

Here are updates schools can make to create more welcoming environments.

  1. In with Signage. Out with Secret Entries.
    Entering a school should not be a mystery. Anyone walking up to the building should be able to determine how to enter it. Locked doors should have signs indicating which door is open. Information on the website should clearly indicate the entrance. The entrance should be clearly marked in a way that makes students, staff, and visitors feel welcomed and in the right place.

  1. In with Calendars. Out with Bells.
    Who moves by bells in today’s colleges and careers? Prisoners? Factory workers on an assembly line? Teachers and students should have calendars.  Paper in the early grades and digital as soon as possible. Students and teachers can go to their appointments and learn how to use calendars to do so. This is an essential skill that schools should help students develop. It also shows students how to organize themselves and is more respectful than having them herded around by loud noises.
  2. In with Greeting. Out with Screening. The first message those entering a building should be one of respect and sincere pleasure you have arrived.  Perhaps we need trained security guards, but they are dealing with children and parents. They can learn to greet those who enter the building warmly and with a feeling that they have arrived at a great place.
  3. In with Knowing Your Guests. Out with Sign In. Each day guests names should be provided to security. When a guest comes, they show their ID, security looks up their name, indicates their time of arrival, and notifies the person they are seeing that they have arrived. Except for emergencies, guests should have appointments. This is professional and respectful to all. 
  4. In with Getting Visitors to Their Destination. Out with the Office Pit-stop. Why on earth are there two sign ins? It is a waste of time for everyone and few schools have someone in the office who intakes guests. Security can handle this.  They should have a list of all staff along with their cell phones. When a guest comes, the person they are visiting gets a text. They can come to collect their guest, send a student to collect the guest, or send the guest up.
  5. In with Digital Announcements. Out with Intercoms.  Intercoms interrupt learning and should ONLY be used in case of emergencies. Quick announcements can be sent via a group texting service like or Remind to a targeted audience.  Daily announcements can be available via a Livestream site like UStream, video on a site like YouTube, audio on a site like iPadio, or on a school website or wiki.  They can be read, viewed, or listed to by the school community at a time and in a way that is right for them.  

What do you think? Which of these things does your school do? Which could you update?

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