This recently came up in a conversation with a parent and so I thought I should mention it to everyone. As a practice I never talk about school shootings in our classroom and they have never come up. However, I hope it is common knowledge that your child takes part in a practice lock down drill every year. We will have one very soon.
I frame this drill as an “unknown safety emergency in the building” and use the example of a big, possibly dangerous dog being in the hallway. Something unknown, where we are safest in the classroom. I can’t really justify why we are in the dark with the shades pulled and super silent.
As a teacher I have to be apolitical and I like that. I’m allowed to say the following, since I’m only describing how I experience mass shootings., not prescribing a solution.
Like you, I did not grow up with lock down drills. Despite how statistics can water-down these horrific events as anomalous – if you’ve been touched by a preventable tragedy and lost a loved one, you understand that statistics are useless to victims.
I was in high school when Columbine occurred. I remember the moment I learned about it. And I was working at Richmond on December 14, the day Sandy Hook occurred and the anguish I felt, my shock at how little anguish I felt in our country.
Two years ago there was an accidental lock down at Richmond. If memory serves correct it was supposed to be a Lock In, not Lock Down. There was, at least at that time, a difference. My co-teacher asked me, “Is this real?” I said, “Treat it like it is.” Something was happening in the neighborhood. It was terrifying.
Years ago a police officer trained our staff on lock-down drills and gave us a protocol that I follow daily, a certain safety measure, and I follow this protocol lock-step. Unlike much of the population, I have not yet become inured to mass shootings because I follow this safety protocol as I begin my day. It is the first thing I think about, this protocol. That is not an exaggeration. In eight years I have never missed this step. I never forget this step. Due to this, I think about what to do in case of active shooter as part of my job requirements. I have not yet become inured.
I’m reading a PAT Union email and an email from the Guadalupe Guerrero, Superintendent about the March 14 17-minute walk. I do not know what Richmond will do yet on this day EXACTLY. I heard at the staff meeting the all grades will be invited to meet on the field to make a BIG HEART and that we are encouraged to wear red and orange and that the school’s focus will be on “anti-bullying and inclusion” and not on the gun debate.
In my class we’ve been reading a lot of history and I think we’ll use this as an opportunity to celebrate inclusion. However, ALL second grade teachers will be at a required training on March 14, so our guest teachers will be running the show. I will prime students heavily on March 13 about the big-heart day!
In my class I often describe imagination as the key to solving problems. Imagine a world where_____. Despite the comfort (if you can call it that) of statistics, I imagine a world where thinking about what to do in case of a mass shooting was not part of my daily job requirements.
Lots of love,