There are Days…
It’s not a secret that I teach high school.
I teach high school in one of the largest school districts in the country. I think they like the bragging rights, because the only thing good that comes from having a district so large is the available schools for our School Choice program and the fact that if the mountains get snow, the whole district shuts down, even if we don’t have anything on the roads where I live.
High school isn’t exactly an easy time for people. There’s a lot of transitioning that happens between puberty and now you’re expected to be an adult, but not quite yet, and what does that look like? You’re taking six to seven classes (at lease here), and it can be a lot of work. The teachers aren’t all consistent in how they grade, and it can just be really overwhelming.
It’s not easy to stand in front of a room and reach 30 different learning styles five times a day. It’s not easy to connect with so many students, and there are days where things just aren’t going to work out.
And every day is unpredictable.
There’s not telling when someone may wake up and have a bad day and just… not be able to handle reality anymore. And in a culture where violence is becoming the name of the game, it’s not a surprise that students turn to violence to solve their problems. It’s not a surprise when that is what they see at home… and what they see in television and in movies and on the news. Violence is the new normal.
Every year, we have a list of drills that we have to do. We have a certain number of fire drills each year. We have a tornado drill. We also have two lock down drills: a partial and a full. The full is where we hide all the kids and we bribe them to be quiet so we don’t get shot. It’s like a game: if we’re quiet and the lights are out and we pretend we aren’t here… when they come by and check on us and rattle the door, if they don’t see or hear us, they will pass us by and we will live.
If they hear or see us, the administration unlocks the door and tells us we’re all dead.
The kids all think it’s a game, and keeping them from talking can sometimes be a little difficult, but luckily, I haven’t been “killed” yet in the drills. I do a good job of bribing, it seems.
But what they don’t realize is what I’m expected to do in this drill. When we get the call that it is time to lock down, we move the kids away from doors and windows. Luckily, my room has large lab benches and a back room where I can put the kids if this ever becomes a real problem. I am then expected to listen at the door for active fire. If I don’t hear anyone, I stick my head out the door and look both ways, grabbing any student who is running for their lives in the hall.
We then sit. And we wait. And if my door gets broken into, then it’s me and a shooter and 30 students who I’m going to tell to run .
But we’ve never had a problem. And I’ve never had to do these things, and I pray that I never do.
But there are days when I replay my role in my head over and over again because I’m reminded that the call to go into lock down may happen at any moment. I’m reminded that things could go bad here at any point in time.
And today was one of those days.
There was an active shooting event at a high school in my district. One student was shot. And for those teachers and those students, the lock down call came and it wasn’t a drill. It was real. And those teachers put themselves between their kids and that locked door and they prayed that it would be over soon and that they wouldn’t be faced with a situation where they had to tell their kids to run.
They haven’t found the shooter.
They’ve evacuated the school, parents are waiting for the pick up call, they’re searching the roof of the building, but nothing yet. The neighboring schools are all on lock down, and I’m praying I can make it to lunch before the kids start asking me a lot of questions.
Before I have to tell them that a shooter has to get through me to get to them.
I don’t like days like this.
All I can do is pray.
Pray for student who was shot that he recovers quickly. Pray for the family of the student that their faith and reality aren’t so shattered as can be recovered. Pray for students at the school that their sense of safety returns. Pray for the teachers that will have a lot of trauma to deal with over the next few days or weeks. Pray for the law enforcement as they search for the person responsible.
And pray for the shooter… that he or she is found, brought to justice, and gains an understanding of the severity of what he or she has done.