Another great interview with Middle School Counselor, Craig Spinner, from Westfield Washington Schools.
In 2014, Westfield Washington Schools had the honor of participating in a presentation by David and Tina Long, of Everything Starts with One and featured in the “Bully” movie, in which they spoke about their son’s tragic suicide. Tina shared that she believed the TIPS platform may have helped prevent Tyler’s death. Westfield had also recently experienced a suicide of their own and Craig recognized that the school needed to be more proactive.
Awareity’s TIPS platform now allows Westfield Washington Schools to not only receive incident reports (anonymously or non-anonymously) from all school community members, but also provides administrators with the tools to log student information and keep notes on intervention strategies, next steps, and follow-up actions.
An excerpt from Craig’s conversation with Rick is below. To listen to the full interview, click here.
Why did your school district see the need for an incident management and prevention platform like TIPS? What challenges were you facing?
In my school there are two counselors for 1100 students, so if you do the ratio there, there are a lot more students than staff. One dean of students and two assistant principals, so one principal for over 500 kids. Not all staff were logging as much as needed to be reported. So with that being said, we thought were doing ok, until we learned about TIPS. When looking at TIPS from a reporting standpoint, it really provided more of a reliability standpoint. Then we encountered our first suicide in our school, an 8th grader, and at that time we knew we needed to do something more. In terms of what TIPS does, it is night and day from what we were doing. We can do more with information, log information and others can see it; we knew this was a no brainer for us.
You are using TIPS to track internal reports and student issues. We continuously read and hear in the news about gaps and a failure to connect the dots…how has TIPS helped your eliminate gaps and disconnects across your school locations and ensure no students fall through the cracks?
After using TIPS, I have found myself using the “Connect the Dots” statement a lot! I am doing a lot of dot connecting; for new students we don’t have information for them yet. One of the best sources is being able to search a student and all of the information comes up. With the new students we are just starting to connect the dots, so we see how useful TIPS is for us. An example of this is, last week I transferred all of my 8th grade students to the high schools this year, so now all of the staff at the high school have access to all of these reports, and can connect the dots with them, and they own that information.
What are and were some of your (or your staffs) biggest fears before or about TIPS and how have you addressed them?
We were worried about duplicated efforts, student records system, anonymous reporting, etc. Now, entering it in the system (typing it in to TIPS) is a time saving effort, rather than doing it multiple times, we only need to enter it once. And so the anxiety of duplicating efforts, proved to be more efficient with TIPS. TIPS does so much more with the reporting than we even realized.
How has TIPS helped you proactively prevent incidents and situations from escalating? Examples?
I think just the fact on how we set up the team, if I were to log something prior to TIPS, that was TIPS worthy to log, such as a bullying event, or at risk intervention, anything that puts a kid at risk, everyone would not always know what was going on. With TIPS everyone is notified that something noteworthy is logged, and we can go back and look at this. With TIPS you end up logging so much more information which is so great for our school. TIPS does so much more with the information.
Looking back at before you had TIPS compared to now, as you have rolled out TIPS and more and more people are using TIPS what would you say are the most valuable benefits?
I would say the time stamping is very important. After our tragedy, we really thought, did we do enough, did we try to help? So from a liability, we feel so much more confident now with this information in front of us. We now can say that we did something and have it logged to show exactly what we did. Having follow-ups set is always a good thing, too.
Any other comment/lessons learned you would like to share regarding TIPS?
I think the biggest lesson I have learned is as great as we like to think we are, change is a hard thing for people and it isn’t as fast as we would like it to be. It is a big change for how people like to do their work. We dove in really hard and fast, which caused growing pains. So if you are thinking about it, take time to show everyone why this is a better option.