Title

The Role of Teachers In School Safety

Date of Award

2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

First Advisor

Michael Ward

Advisor Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Abstract

This study examined teachers' perceptions of their abilities to effectively respond to crises on their school campuses. Teachers were surveyed in numerous southeastern states in contrasting demographic areas. Much of the literature addressed acts of violence, natural disasters, and threats of terrorism in schools. Past literature designates urban areas as places where violence has been a more prevalent element of everyday life. Current evidence shows that school shootings and natural disasters can occur anywhere. This shows that planning, practicing, and preparing for crises events are imperative no matter the demographic area in which a school is located. However, there is a dearth of literature on teachers' perceptions of their abilities to respond to a crisis. This lack of literature on teachers' perceptions prompted the researcher to investigate the topic. The researcher designed a survey instrument "Teachers in a Crisis Preparedness Survey" that was distributed to 1,000 educators. Participants responded anonymously to survey items related to their years of service in the field and position (high school/elementary). Furthermore, participants were queried about the consistency of practice drills, established emergency procedures/plans, and confidence in their administrators' ability to capably lead in a crisis. Examination of the data showed that teachers report they practice drills in average frequency, with the exception of fire drills which were reported to be practiced in higher frequencies. However, teachers reported they do not feel prepared. Overall, teachers do not believe they are well trained to handle a crisis situation at their schools whether their schools are in urban or rural areas. Further examination of the data showed that teachers had more confidence in their principal's ability to respond to a crisis than in their own abilities. However, the teachers didn't have a strong perception of their principal's ability. This indicates that more steps need to be taken to establish safety protocols and consistently practice procedures for all types of crises. This will enhance teachers' confidence in their ability to respond when a crisis arises. The ultimate goal of this study was to examine teachers' perceptions of their preparedness to manage crises. This research lays the foundation for future studies that examine this topic.