Threats to a child's physical and/or emotional safety and well-being are a serious concern for school leaders in today's society. Appropriate emergency preparedness can mitigate the unanticipated, however, as attention, practice and appropriate adjustments are made to emergency operation plans. Crisis situations can be highly emotional, and the more they are practiced and discussed, the greater the odds that a school leader can appropriately navigate a crisis. As Merriam-Webster defines a crisis as "an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending, especially one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome," it is imperative that proactive strategies are utilized to prepare for the unanticipated. Whether a crisis impacts a single individual or an entire school community, its impact can be easily widespread without appropriate leadership responsiveness.
So, what types of crises should a school leader anticipate? We will take a look at an in-depth but not all-inclusive list, and appropriate considerations for school leaders below.
Types of crisis
The scope of school crisis scenarios has more than doubled than when I was in school in the late 80's to early 2000's. Whereas in small town Indiana we practiced fire and tornado drills regularly, the different types of crisis we now rehearse for are much more varied than the single category of natural disasters we used to run through each month. Below, we list 11 potential types of crises, some more well-known and rehearsed than others. As current school leaders, it would behoove building leadership to research and review each type of crisis, and ensure that it is represented in the school's emergency preparedness plan.