In light of the recent school shooting in Texas, I felt it necessary to write about what it’s actually like from a classroom perspective of what it feels like during a lockdown.
I was a sub for almost 10 years. The number of lockdown drills I have participated in during that time is innumerable. Let me tell you what that looks like.
We get an “alert” that there is an active shooter or “situation” on campus. The kids get up quickly from their seats, move a couple of tables and huddle into a corner behind those tables while I lower a curtain over our window and lock the door.
I then join the kids in the corner where we try to sit in silence. Well, kids can’t sit in silence that long, so you can imagine the wiggles and nervous whispering. We try to play silent games or silent reading to keep young minds occupied.
Typically, I keep the special needs kids or kids I know have high anxiety closest to me. During this time I have communicated electronically to the office that either all my students are accounted for or if one was out of the room, who that child was and where I knew them to have gone.
Students who are out of the room know that when they hear the alert that they need to head to the nearest classroom immediately to get locked in. So we sit in silence or as quietly as kids can be for what feels like an eternity.
Most times someone will come by, aggressively rattle our doorknob scaring the crap out of the littles who are instantly terrified and the whole thing is over in about 15 minutes.
If kids had to go to the bathroom, there is an emergency bucket that looks like a Home Depot bucket with personal supplies and we have to hold up a little curtain while they go potty. That’s rarely had to happen during a drill though; just twice in all my years when the drill went on for over an hour.
Eventually, we get the all-clear notification and we all let go of the breath we’ve been holding. The kids push back the tables and head back to their seats while I roll up the curtain and unlock the door.
With little kids, we talk for a few minutes and a hug if needed. We discuss how this made us feel and I reassure them that it’s OK to feel the way they feel but to always know Mrs. Simek would never ever let anything happen to them.
Bigger kids are also a bit rattled but I also assure them I’ve got their back. Hugs again if needed. And we as teachers have to pretend this is all normal while we are terrified that if someone did come into the room that we could get every child behind us to shield them from harm.
As a sub I didn’t get training on this. Not once in 10 years. I picked it up along the way. So, sometimes your kid might be in a room with someone who has no idea what to do but their instincts kick in-hopefully.
Please think about that as the Legislature continues to make it easier and easier to become a teacher all while making it easier and easier to obtain a gun but harder and harder to obtain medical care for mental illness.
The biggest threat to our classrooms right now is complacent legislators.