I'm writing this over the weekend, wondering exactly how I will face my classroom on Monday. How I will look at it. How I will look at my students. And how they will look at me.
Exactly a week before the Sandy Hook incident, we had an intruder drill at our school. Note: We have lots of drills. The state of Pennsylvania requires a fire drill each and every month. Plus, we have inclement weather drills and lockdown drills thrown in as well.
On that particular Friday, I was annoyed to have the drill interrupt my instructional time. I had quite a bit of work I wanted to get done, and I knew the disruption would put some kids off learning for the rest of the afternoon. I warned my students it was coming, so I could go over the safety rules.
Several of the students cheered when I told them we were doing a lockdown drill. I wanted to know why. "Because it's fun," they said.
The announcement came, and the kids went to their positions. I locked the door with the key I wear on a lanyard around my neck whenever I'm in the building. I covered the windows on the door, and one boy asked, "Couldn't someone shoot through that?" I gave him the stinkeye, and he went to his place and stopped asking questions. I seated myself where I could see the children and the door.
What the boy didn't know was this: I was already rehearsing in my mind what furniture I could use to barricade the door. At the time it seemed both silly and morbid for me to plan such a thing, but it's something I think about during every intruder drill.
The kids squirmed and giggled and farted. If you don't believe that fifth grade boys can fart on purpose, then you've never locked yourself in a room with a bunch of them and ordered silence. It happens every single time.
After about 10 minutes, the drill ended, and we all went back to work. End of story.
Or at least, it was the end of the story until this Friday, when we all understood exactly what the drill is for. Now I know. And sadly, I'm sure my students know too.
Part of my job description is defending my students from armed intruders, and why this should be true in a country not at war defies explanation. While the media erupts with arguments over gun control and security and suggestions are made in all seriousness that arming teachers with handguns is a better solution than banning weapons that can be used to blow apart the entrance to a school -- I don't think the situation is going to change any time soon.
I NEEDED to write this, to get it out.
But I've turned off comments.
Thank you for reading.