Listen Until the End

When I conduct school vulnerability and culture assessments, I briefly survey teachers. I ask lots of questions—some personal and others strictly related to safety. All the questions have the big purpose of getting to know the school so I can help create a plan for greater safety, happiness, and success.

I appreciate this part of the assessments because I really enjoy talking to teachers. They’re bright, witty, and self-reflective. They are problem-solvers by heart and always have good ideas and comments. 

One question that I ask is, “If you were afraid for your safety and the safety of the students, who would you tell and would that person help you solve it, if they could?”

They always give a name.

My follow up questions is, “Why did you choose them? Out of everyone in the school, why them specifically?”

Their responses are pretty typical, positive, and straightforward.

However, last year I repeatedly heard something that I’ve never heard before. 

It’s important to note that up until 2022, no teacher has ever made this comment. That’s one reason why it stuck out so much as well as the fact that it was repeated multiple times. It was very powerful.

“He listens until the end.” 

teacher with students

The first time I heard it, I had to ask, “What do you mean he listens until the end?”

“He doesn’t interrupt. He lets me talk as much as I want to. He lets me tell him everything before he says anything. He listens until the end.”

What does this have to do with school safety?


Preventing violence is predicated on the idea that everyone will play their part—big or small. For some, it might be as an active member on the safety team. For others it may be getting specialized training and then helping their fellow coworkers to be safer. For everyone, regardless of the part that they play, they must say something if they see, hear, or feel something that makes them afraid.

When it comes to school attackers, 75% give off a public indicator of danger and 70% are current or former students. Most schools have approximately 60-100 staff members and 450-770 students. That’s anywhere from 500-900 people who stand an excellent chance of seeing something—anything that could prove to be the missing piece of the puzzle that could prevent extreme violence. 

This remarkable advantage of having so many people helping to spot danger is for naught if they don’t have someone to tell that they trust. Someone who will help them. Someone who will listen until the end.

If a teacher, student, staff member, or parent feels that you will listen until the end…do you think that they are less or more likely to let you know if they see, hear, or feel something that makes them afraid?

Of course, they’re more likely to tell you.

Conversely, if a teacher, student, staff member, or parent does not feel this way about you…that you don’t listen until the end…do you think that they are less or more likely to let you know if they see, hear, or feel something that makes them afraid?

It’s painful to say this, but they are less likely to tell you. In truth, over time they will even stop sharing because as teachers have said in the past, “What’s the use? No one cares (listens) anyway.”

If you can, try to listen until the end!

Trust will be built, schools will be safer, people will be happier, and lives will be saved if you do.


If you’d like to inspire and prepare your teachers to be able to spot indicators of danger, schedule a Safe & Loved teacher professional development. We still have some dates available for this school year.

Presentations can be 3-8 hours long and fit perfectly into in-service training.

emailfor more details.

Don's Blog

Sign up to receive more blogs, quick tips, videos, and other resources!

Don is available for district professional developments, Safe & Loved Vulnerability Assessments, and Leadership Coaching.

If you want to inspire your school and teachers to think of school safety in a different and more positive way, call or email...



PO BOX 474 Radford, VA 24143

Phone and text

(540) 577-7200


Copyright © 2019 Don Shomette