My son is 16 going on 17, and he's very politically active ... into the news. So, he's certainly been aware of the Friday horror.
In fact, he met me at the door as I came home late on Friday evening from school -- I regularly stay late on Friday's for tutoring or anyone who needs a little extra help to finish off the week well. He met me as I began opening the door with a clinging hug, and I teared up when he pulled back and really looked me in the face, as if to finish off the reassurance he needed.
Over my first cup of coffee this morning, my son asked me, "What would you do, Mom?"
I knew exactly what he was asking me.
Interestingly, I had a detailed answer to give him, because I have indeed repeatedly thought through "what I would do," and I actually quietly and surreptitiously practice "my plan" every single time we have a lockdown drill at our school. (BTW, We practice lockdown drills in our school 2 times every year.)
And, I am pretty damn sure that EVERY teacher in this country has done the same kind of detailed, private planning.
In the diary, This is Victoria Soto, She Gave Her Life to Save Her Students astral66 shared a picture of this 27 yo hero and what she did to save her students' lives:
This is Victoria Soto. Victoria was only 27. She was killed today after she hid her first graders in closets and cabinets and told the shooter they were in the gym. He killed her and not one of her children were harmed. God bless Victoria, her family and friends and all of those who were involved today in anyway. Victoria is a true hero!!I seriously doubt Ms. Soto just came up with the idea to use her cabinets and closet in the seconds after the lockdown alert went out. Did she get her kids to do this during drills? Probably not, but I would bet everything I have, that she had "the plan" in mind to get her kids into those hiding spots long before she did so.
Having such a "full plan" in mind is something that millions of teachers across this nation quietly, privately, personally, and solemnly do, as part of their commitment to their students.
We do things like:
- Every morning when we come into our rooms, we make sure our doors are in the autolock position when the door closes, and we check that this mode didn't get accidently switched by the custodial staff, overnight. It's just a part of our everyday, begin work, routine.
- We've used planning time to close our doors with the lights out in the room and peered through the little window in the door from every angle to know exactly where the best out-of-line-of-sight hiding places are in our rooms. When the lockdown drill alert comes over the intercom, our students trust us to know what is best, and they look to us for direction on where to go. And, they go there SILENTLY and immediately.
- We've figured out how to increase the number of obstacles between an intruder and our kids, if an intruder manages to breach the locked door. (For example: The students have separate chairs around lab tables in my room, so during lockdown drills, I nonchallantly practice moving the chairs into the aisle ways in such a manner that the legs are hooked. Someone would have to use 2 hands to repeatedly move chairs out of their way to move closer to where my students would be huddled. Every lockdown drill, I practice and time myself. I can do this in less than 40 seconds, now. My students don't notice what I'm doing, but I'm always secretly pleased to see how effective the plan is after the lockdown drill is over, and they have to disentagle the obstacle course it creates.)
- Scrutinized our rooms for other protections and pre-positioned them. For example, I have the bookcase with our classroom set of textbooks situated right behind the best hiding spot. If there was ever a real lockdown, I plan on sweeping those shelves with my arms to get down the books to my huddled students and using my best "teacher's tone whisper" I would tell them to get as small as possible hold the books in front of their heads. During drills, I just walk over to the bookcase and practice that part of "the plan," silently in my head. My students have no idea, but I practice it out in my mind during the drills.
- Then, we plan on where we would go to be between the intruder and our kids and what we could use as weapons to defend them. I go stand beside the glassware cabinet. During drills, it just looks like this is where I stand, but I have a reason for being there. This spot is out of sight, but it puts me obliquely between any potential intruder and my kids. Most importantly, it gives me access to a cabinet full of "glass projectile weapons" that I could throw at the intruder with both hands as fast as I could. I have also purposely stored my rock collection in the top drawer just under this cabinet. (Yeah, teachers all over this country have thought about what we could turn into effective weapons in our classrooms.)
So, I was able to "reassure" my son that I had a plan, and by extension, that each of his teachers privately has one, as well. BTW, this also gave me the opportunity to talk with him about taking his text book with him during lockdown drills.
Horrifically, THIS has become part of the job of being a teacher in our nation, today. I don't know if this will horrify or comfort many of you -- maybe both -- but I thought it might be important to share one teacher's private plan.
We do this, because as TeacherKen put it best (as always) ... because we are teachers ... and this is the world we have allowed this nation to become.
The thing I want to really stress, here, is that I am NOT special. I don't want a bunch of replies of thank you for what you do ... I just wanted to emphasize that EVERY teacher in this country has "a plan" that they carry and privately practice in their heart and mind.
I guess, I'd just like to also ask everyone who isn't a teacher to imagine having to have such "a plan" just be a part of your regular, everyday job. How insane is this?
My son's reaction to my sharing my private plan was:
Good. I mean, the plan sounds good, but the whole things sucks, Mom. It just plain freaking sucks.I hope that we can get ourselves organized to have some gun control laws to mitigate the need for teachers having to make plans like this and for heroic, beautiful young women like Victoria Soto having to die as they carry them out.
12:01 PM PT: After talking with my son, this morning, I also shared "my plan" with my husband. He got tears in his eyes and thanked me. I had NO idea how it is a worry for him, my being a teacher, and the what if thoughts ... Sharing "my plan" gave him some comfort. He then sheepishly shared with me that the "what if" was a part of his reason for giving me my iPhone 5 for my birthday, this year. I didn't even have txting before, and he wanted me to be able to "communicate" no matter, where, and under any conditions.
wow. In addition to the heartbreaking horror from recent events, it boggles my mind the apparent amount of private anxiety about potential gun violence so many of us are obviously carrying around in order to allow some of fellow Americans to assert that they have a right to assault weapons and mega ammunition clips ... and the profits derived from them.