Saturday, July 01, 2006

What happens in Class, stays in class: Lockdown Procedure

This series “What happens in class, stays in class” will be a collection of embarrassing and, if you’re lucky, funny situations that have happened during my short but lively teaching career to date. I am an intermediate science teacher and when you’re interacting with kids every day, strange things can happen. Overall, I find kids are kind, understanding and empathetic… thank god.

A lockdown is a scary event that a school hopes to never have to perform. When an intruder enters the school in a rage, aggressively seeking to find a student or teacher, we initiate a lockdown procedure.

My school has never, in the time that I have been there, had to perform a real lockdown. However, we are legally obligated to practice a lockdown every year. This is what happens: A bell begins to go off in about 10 second segments with pauses in between. Our principal comes onto the PA system and announces, “Initiate Lockdown Procedure!” At that point, we need to make it seem like no one is in the classroom. So, I close the doors to the classroom and turn off the lights. The students and the teacher all get on the floor flat on our stomachs. We scrunch up close to the wall nearest the school hallways so that if an intruder was to peek into our class through the little window in the door, he would see no one. It is an intense exercise. Kids giggle a bit because they’re nervous and they’re on the floor and their faces are pressed up against other children’s thighs, etc. When the exercise is over, about five to ten minutes later, the principal turns off the bell and comes on the PA system to announce that the lockdown procedure is terminated.

As a teacher, I am notified when a lockdown drill will occur.
On the day I am remembering, the lockdown was to happen at 2:30 during the last period of the day. As the time approached, I became less and less able to concentrate on the lesson I was teaching. The tension was building and I couldn’t help but glance at the clock more and more frequently. I was trying, in my mind, to remember if my classroom clock was still five minutes fast or not. I was wondering if I could get a head start and nonchalantly close the door, or if that would defeat the purpose of the drill. Had I reviewed the lockdown procedures with the particular class of students who was in my room right now? Would they behave? Would Paul giggle? Had I worn clothes that would get covered in dust if I lay down on my stomach? Perhaps I could get away with a little mini crouch instead.

Then it happened.
The bell rang and my heart skipped a beat.
I dove. It was a spectacular dive.
It was dramatic and it was quick. As if we were being shot at.
I said nothing, and I leapt to the ground beneath a table.
The students’ eyes shot to me and they were immediately on the ground with me.
It was fast. It was silent…..

It was not a lockdown. No announcement came on the PA system. The bell stopped ringing and didn’t continue in short bursts. Then I realized what this was.
I realized why it was still five minutes early.

This was the recess bell.

I was more than a little embarrassed as I stood up. But I was also more than a little impressed. In an emergency, or a perceived emergency, I could lead my kids. They would do what I needed them to do.

In five minutes, we did a true lockdown drill. My students couldn’t stop giggling. That’s okay. I know they can turn it on when it really counts.


katevp said...

Melissa, this story made me laugh right out loud.
I can totally picture you diving right down in front of your students. what a picture!!!


Ben & Maryann Roebuck said...

Very Funny! Your description leading up to the event reminded me of Maryann! Getting anxious, preparing mentally for the drill, running through all of the questions and possible scenarios...

I LOVE that you did two lockdowns in one day. I'm sure the kids really know that you're looking out for them!


Deaner said...

Loftus, I only wish I had been there to see this. Honestly, I laughed right out funny. I can only imagine you diving and the shocked look on the faces of your kids.

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