Tuesday, October 27, 2015

We interrupt this class

We were working on fractions. It was a 6th grade class doing a 4th grade lesson, but they needed it. Cut pieces of shapes and problems to solve and aha moments from the kids who have struggled with fractions for the last two years. I was ROCKING IT and they were learning and it was awesome.

Boooooop. Booooooop. ......Booooooooooop.

The intercom. But not the single boop followed by Brenda the secretary's voice. Not the triple quick boop boop boop for the all-call when the secretary comes on and asks for the tech teacher to go to the office (that is almost always what the all-call is for, to call the tech teacher). But three long drawn out tones.

And then silence.

My kids looked at me. Fires have buzzer alarms. Tornadoes have sirens outside and gloomy skies. This was not a fire and it was not a tornado.

"Close the door, Finn," I said to the mohawked blond kid getting something out of the closet next to my door. He did exactly what I said without question. Pulled the blackout curtain down on the little window.

Without telling anyone a thing, all the students moved to the corner together and looked at me. I took the chair I was taught to use and wedged it in the door handle.

"It's probably nothing," I whispered, coming over next to them. Silent.

"Was there supposed to be a drill?" Rachel asked. There wasn't.

"Is that the alarm for an intruder?" Will asked.

"There is no alarm for intruders, and I don't think this is a thing, guys, but we're going to treat it like a drill."

They nod. They are silent. Trey points to the windows. It's raining.

"No, not yet," I whisper back. We wait for just a moment, and then I go over to the door. Look out my little window and see my partner teacher looking at me through her darkened window. I listen. I hear children's voices. Chatter. I move the chair and open the door. My kids don't move or make any sound.

The first grade is using the bathroom down by the office. It's not a thing. We're fine. No intruder. No death. I feel a little stupid, but my kids don't think it's stupid. I reflect on it. Whatever that weird noise from the office was, what if it had been Brenda's last move, grasping up at the intercom phone, as she collapsed onto the floor in a pool of blood? And if I'd stood there and blew it off and went on? And if we'd all died because, whatev, it's just a weird noise.

Turned out, all the middle school teachers treated it as a thing. The science teacher even grabbed an aide out of the hall and pulled her into the room before she shut it down.

I opened my door and we went back to normal. And then Greta, the little sister of one of my favorite 8th grade boys, walked up to me as I was getting back to teaching.

"Can we shut the door again?" she asked. Her eyes were scared. I wanted to hug her.

I shut the door again.

I started teaching again.


  1. Oh wow, I got shivers reading that, and tears in my eyes now. I am just so sorry that you and your kids have to be subjected to that kind of fear. It's not something kiwi kids have ever really had to worry about, but still I think about a 12 year old boy in my family, and my 7 year old niece. I don't know if we realise how lucky we are.

  2. This is so upsetting. The shootings in this country, the fact that we can't feel completely secure at school especially, is just so wrong. What a story. And I'm glad everyone took it seriously.