Fire Prevention vs. Firefighting in Education Today

Male teacher working with young students

Research continues to affirm that when schools, families, and the community work together to support learning, children tend to succeed not just in school but also throughout life. Today many schools face family disengagement, crisis situations and communication issues that incite reactive rather than proactive behavior.

How does an educator make the transition from firefighting to fire prevention in our schools of today? How do we turn the environment of a “fortress school” with walls of frustration into a “partnership school” where we proactively collaborate with staff, students, families, and the community to build student success?

Beginning in the early 19th century, the term “three Rs” was used to refer to what was being taught in classrooms. Let us consider another meaning for the “three Rs” in today’s schools—responsibility, respect, and relationships. How can these standards help us to proactively prevent problems instead of reacting to them?


Responsible proactive behavior takes action before a situation becomes a crisis. The way schools encourage two-way communication, welcome diversity, and accommodate language differences proactively impacts the school environment and promotes an atmosphere of respect.

“The way schools care about children is reflected in the ways schools care about the children’s families.”

School Family and Community Partnerships,
Johns Hopkins University


Respect for others builds a welcoming and healthy school environment. Educators have a passion for preparing students for tomorrow while caring for them today. These educators use people-first language, share decision-making with parents, and treat students as members of the school family. Mutual respect reignites the shared passion for student success and reminds the school community that differences are not as important as relationships.


Healthy school relationships create the energy to stay positive and remain focused on the student. Educators proactively connect with parents to share resources; they provide positive feedback that honors the parent’s knowledge of their child and the teacher’s knowledge of education. The result of these proactive steps is a school climate that builds trust.

What an impact today’s “three Rs” have on improving the conditions of our schools and empowering students to become the responsible, thinking citizens of tomorrow!

Click here to download your free printout: The 3 Rs of “Fire Prevention” — Tools for Educators

The Inclusive Schools Network (ISN) is a web-based educational resource for families, schools and communities that promotes inclusive educational practices. The ISN Team works to encourage, embolden, and empower people to design and implement effective inclusive schools.

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