1. #1
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    Default Getting your foot in the door

    With the increasing academic requirements school teachers are facing today with the "No Student Left Behind" act, fire departments are finding it harder and harder to get classroom time to meet with students.

    What are some of the creative, non traditional ways, your department has used to reach school aged children and get precious classroom time?

    One method I have used was being a "classroom reader" which is always welcome in the schools. BUT! Every book started or ended with a fire safety lesson...."Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall because he never heard a smoke detector before, have you heard one?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Education1st View Post
    With the increasing academic requirements school teachers are facing today with the "No Student Left Behind" act, fire departments are finding it harder and harder to get classroom time to meet with students.

    What are some of the creative, non traditional ways, your department has used to reach school aged children and get precious classroom time?

    One method I have used was being a "classroom reader" which is always welcome in the schools. BUT! Every book started or ended with a fire safety lesson...."Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall because he never heard a smoke detector before, have you heard one?"

    Yes, there are tricks that can open the doors, and reading to classrooms is one of them. You can also use fun days and special events.

    And yes, you have to use those opportunities to educate as well as entertain, or else, you will be viewed simply as entertainment by the school administration and your opportunities will be limited.

    However, the tricks to getting a true foothold in the schools is time, persistence and professionalism, as well as the ability to demonstrate that you are truly using your opportunities to educate and not simply entertain.

    In both my current pubed gig here in LA with a combo department in a primarily rural community with a small suburban pocket, as well as my last pubed position in volunteer department in a heavier populated suburban community, I found that the trick to getting the time you needed in the schools was very much tied to delivering a quality and professional educational product.

    In both cases, I started off delivering one lesson per year. After a couple of years, I was asked to deliver a second. Then I asked for a third, and in the case with my current gig, got a fourth in grades K-3 when I asked.

    The trick was that I wasn't coming in and delivering show and tell, but I was coming in delivering a lesson, and every time i asked for additional time, I Had a detailed lesson plan in hand outlining why I needed the time, the goals of the additional class, and a very specific layout of the class. If you present yourself in a professional manner as an educator, and speak their language as an educator with clear educational objectives, you will be amazed how you will be embraced at most schools by most of the teachers and the administration.

    That being said, much of my programming is delivered during PE. However, when I asked a K-1 couple of years ago if I could add an additional class and deliver not only that class, but one class which had been delivered in PE in the class in the classroom instead, and they had no problems with my request, that did tell me that I, as well as my program, had in fact been embraced as a legitimate educational program.

    I have thought about delivering my grades 2-3 in the classroom again (the first 2 years it was classroom delivery but I switched it to PE due to physical size and layout of the school) but the logistics of classroom delivery in that specific setting are just too difficult to overcome. But I digress.

    And again, this has taken time. It often takes time for a school to come to understand the value of what we do as in many cases, the firefighters in an area are not perceived as "educators" in the true sense of the word. They like to see that we can constantly deliver a quality educational product an perform a true educators before opening the door wider. And they like to see a commitment, over time, by the department to the program. Perform consistently as educators and you will be respected as educators, and acceptance of your program will lead to access.

    They also like to see the other tools used by educators such a pre and post class assignments and teacher evaluations. Again, you are asking for educational time, and the schools expect you to talk and walk like an educator, which includes all of the educational tools.

    As I said earlier, there are tricks to getting into the schools.

    But in all honestly, you need to be able to deliver far more than entertainment if you want to stay in the schools and grow your program. Once they see that you have a valid, well planned educational program with a sound cirriculum, you will likely be surprised how easy it will be to expand your programs given a sprinkle of time, a dash of persistence and a whole box of professionalism.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 03-13-2011 at 08:35 PM.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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    Default Time and relationships!

    Agreed! 100%! It takes time and building relationships with the schools for you to get access and time in the classroom. You cannot be discouraged. You also cannot be a “once a year wonder” and only show up knocking on their door during Fire Prevention Week.

    Relationships are TWO WAY streets that take time to develop. Find ways to make yourself and your department seen as a resource and not a distracter and make yourself available to your teachers 365.

    Another way is to adapt your fire safety program or lesson to what the teacher is teaching. Fire safety can easily be tied into a math class, science class, or even a history class. But by doing so, you are giving the teacher what they need while at the same time accomplishing what you need.

    Effective prevention needs to be a full time endeavor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Education1st View Post
    Agreed! 100%! It takes time and building relationships with the schools for you to get access and time in the classroom. You cannot be discouraged. You also cannot be a “once a year wonder” and only show up knocking on their door during Fire Prevention Week.

    Relationships are TWO WAY streets that take time to develop. Find ways to make yourself and your department seen as a resource and not a distracter and make yourself available to your teachers 365.

    Another way is to adapt your fire safety program or lesson to what the teacher is teaching. Fire safety can easily be tied into a math class, science class, or even a history class. But by doing so, you are giving the teacher what they need while at the same time accomplishing what you need.

    Effective prevention needs to be a full time endeavor.
    Being able to tie your program into thier lewssons is certainly one way to get additional time in the schools. it also, and possibly more importantly, improves your stature as an educator, as comapred to "just a fireman", in the eyes of the teachers and the admin.

    That is part of the reason that I added the fire science component to my 4th grade program this year. I have had several teachers comment on the fact that we are actually providing education as compared to just firesafety.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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