When lockdowns happen at schools

Yesterday, we had an actual lockdown. Not a drill—lockdown. What does this mean?

It means that my entire class of students sat on the floor waiting for someone to give the all clear.

It means that because I ran out of my house a different way, I forgot my keys and my door was perpetually unlocked.

It means that I had to secure my door with a chair to hopefully keep people from entering and killing us all.

It means I hadn’t had time to rehang my window curtain that fell Friday because I had to run in and do testing… on a Monday, so you could see into my room.

It means that I had to keep nervously giggling 6th graders quiet by trying to frighten them into silence.

It means that I am going to be behind all day because testing has been interrupted because somebody didn’t secure the doors. Or, let’s be honest, some RANDO may have just decided it was a good idea to muscle past the office. Or that some kid has eloped because regulation is at an all time low.

It means that I haven’t had time to explain to the students what to do if someone does break up in here—where to go, what to risk, how to live.

Mind you, we’ve had a fire drill already but not an actual lockdown drill. Fires—real fires that kill students are so rare that we do those drills with a yawn and a hint of annoyance. Lock down drills are different. Each time it’s different. You have no idea why the person is in the building, just that they ain’t supposed to be and danger is afoot. There’s no set protocol—just your ability to override your flight, fight, freeze, or fawn instinct so that you can find and follow the path of safety. And as a teacher, you’re contending with your own flesh AND ALSO the flesh of however many students are your portion in that moment.

It be a lot to consider and do.

When the all clear came, we took 2 minutes to reset ourselves. The kids took it in stride; I added “somethings elses” to my urgent-important list:

  • Hang curtain again.
  • Make crate cushions.
  • Figure out what our weapon might be.
  • Figure out how to make a rope ladder cuz I’m on the second floor.
  • Pray and anoint the other doors and hallways.

You know? That’s it. That’s the post.

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