Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lockdown Drill

We had a lockdown drill today. For those not in the know (and lucky you), this is the drill we practice in case of a dangerous person(s) in our building. We close and lock all doors, cover any interiors windows with dark paper, turn off the lights, pull down all blinds, gather in one corner, and be as quiet as possible.

When we told our little darlings about the drill some remembered doing this in kindergarten. That helped. We presented it in comparison with fire drills and tornado drills - drills that I don't think cause a lot of stress for our students. We explained what we would need to do without any drama (I hope).

Our principal announced the drill over the loudspeaker and the kids (mostly) quickly and quietly moved to the carpet. My intern and I took care of the lights, doors, and windows. Then we joined the kids on the carpet.

I pulled a book from nearby to whisper read to them. It seems unreasonable to ask first graders to just sit together silently. With my back to the door and a great distance between it and me I felt comfortable no one outside would hear me reading. I did pass on some really funny books though because I didn't want gales of laughter. I picked a sweet story.

On the whole my little darlings were fabulous. They were quiet the whole time. Even when someone knocked on our door as a test.

I felt a surprising level of stress given that it was a drill. I knew it wasn't real, but I still felt anxious. (I'm not a naturally anxious person.) I'm not sure how my students felt but I observed and overheard some things that were both concerning and humorous.

Two little girls sat beside one another on the carpet holding hands. I think they needed that physical reassurance of their safety. One child remarked after the drill about how scary it was. Another boy decided it was a drill in case zombies came. After we opened the door and pulled up the blinds he said, "Oh no, the zombies will come! Go hide!" and ducked off around the corner of our couch. I don't think he was really worried but it's hard to be sure.

I'm not a fan of this piece of my job. I don't think our students feel more reassured by the practice of these drills. That doesn't mean I question the importance of them. But I think students either feel anxiety as a result or don't really feel anything about them. I don't like doing anything that raises my kiddos' anxiety levels, even when I know we need to.

1 comment:

learn2teach4equity said...

Your thoughtful reflection of this experience/practice is very refreshing. These drills, although serving an important purpose, can really bring such a negative energy into an otherwise sacred space. I really like your idea of "whisper reading" a carefully selected story during the drill, and plan to take this back to my own classroom. Thank you!