Monday, September 1, 2014

"Ready" for School

Every year at school, we teachers and staff are trained in what to do in the event of a school shooting situation. We've been trained in this for as long as I can remember:  Close your classroom door, hide, and be quiet, hoping the shooter thinks your room is empty and keeps going. Administrators make ridiculously veiled announcements over the P.A. such as, "Mr. Locker is in the building," code for "A shooter is in the building." (Seriously; it's that silly.) I've never thought much beyond that, because of course that would never happen at our school. When we have drills, I just follow the procedure and reassure my nervous sixth graders that we would simply stay out of sight and that police would respond and rescue us, basically.

On Thursday at school, during one of our three teacher in-service (administrative) days, we were trained differently than usual. It started with a viewing of about seven minutes from surveillance video from the Columbine Massacre, including the killers' walking around shooting people point-blank, laughing in victims' faces, terrorizing innocents, and finally, committing suicide together, all while a 911 operator tried to make sense of what she was hearing over a cell phone. We were warned that it might be emotional.

It was horrific. Terrifying.  Heartwrenching.

I'm tearing up again, now, typing this; it was a horrible thing to see, and I'm not ashamed to say that tears streamed down my face as I viewed it.

At the end, our presenter noted (by the on-screen digital time on the video) that it took police more than six minutes to arrive at the scene. We were reminded that these days, our district is no less likely to face such an event and that because of its rural, small-town location, help would be even less likely to happen in a timely manner; we have only one police officer on duty at a time and one school liaison officer (who could be anywhere in our 140-square-mile district when the call (God forbid) came in).

That was the moment during which I kind of lost it; the reality of the potential situation was terrifying to me! I felt so vulnerable! We would be screwed in the event that a killer set out to do harm in our school!

Then they told us that the video was a reenactment;

a very, very realistic reenactment,

and I was angry. Was that really necessary?!

They wanted our attention, and they certainly had it. Our trainers explained that they've learned a lot over the years of school shootings (across the globe), and they apologized for not truly preparing us well in the past. They explained that a new training is designed to increase the likelihood of survival in the event of a school shooting today. We learned that teachers who do nothing but gather children in a corner are more likely to die. Teachers who sit and wait to be rescued decrease their chances of survival and that of their students. The Columbine-inspired school intruder reaction plans we've been using in the past would be weak responses to the reality of a school shooter. Among other things, we learned that instead of simply hunkering down, the first thing we need to do after closing our doors is barricade them. If we know where the shooter is, we now know how to pick up our classroom phones and announce that over the public address system in a very direct, specific way: "An adult with a gun is heading towards the commons via the 6th grade hallway!" If we hear this and know that we're in a remote location, we can help our students escape, instead of "hiding" in our rooms.

Before today, before being given a whole new perspective in an unorthodox, shocking manner, my students and I would have been more likely to be victims in the unlikely event of a shooting at our school. I now know how to take action in such a circumstance, to take my fate and that of my students into my own hands, instead of leaving it to a shooter or hoping to be saved like a damsel in distress. I am empowered, and I am in awe at the magnitude of responsibility I carry for my students.

I am a teacher, and while I may not be ready for anything, I'm ready to teach. I'm ready to serve. I'm ready to be prepared but also to open my heart and to focus on what's important, my students.

Bring on the new year.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lucky Me

Mr. 4444 is gone a lot for work during the week. He more than makes up for it on the weekends, though. Among other things, he loves to make breakfast for me and, believe it or not, he almost never makes a plate for himself. Here's today's offering.

I know, right?! All this after getting home at 10:30pm Friday night, waking at 4 am to drive Kendall to school (8 hours round trip), move her in basically single-handedly with a bad knee, and with a plan to go grocery shopping later today (I can't push a cart for at least two more weeks!)

Here's hoping your (holiday) weekend is a special one, too.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back to School

Mr.4444 is in Minnesota with Kendall, taking her back to college.
For various reasons, we decided it wasn't a great idea for me to go, too,
my shoulder in a sling in the car for nine hours, etc.
So, I loved her up last night and got up with them a 4 am this morning to say goodbye again.

I was fine; what was there to cry about? 
She's a sophomore, after all; we've done this before.

I went back to bed and slept until nine,
leisurely rising, poking around on Facebook,
and that's when I saw this on Kendall's friend Carly's Facebook page,

with the caption:

i hate when he does this.. he gives me the look of "please don't leave me" 

and it broke me;

I'm not sure I cried this hard the first time!

I'm probably just stressed about not going and the fact that Kendall was stressed about having to go to orientation for her new job (campus bookstore) while her dad moved her stuff in (with his bad knee) into her new (off-campus) apartment (that I've never seen because it's brand-new). 

I know she's going to be fine,
as are the rest of us (including our animals);
life goes on.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Friday Fragments: Episode #316

Half-Past Kissin' Time

Typing with one hand is for the birds. Therefore, I'll keep this intro brief.
It's time to share the bits and pieces of the week that didn't make it into posts!
Let's frag!
[First time fragging? Please click on the FF tab above to learn the ins and outs.]

***I went back to work this week, three days of teacher meetings including one night of Open House, and I am wiped out!  My doctor note has me on "sedentary duty," and I was sitting a lot, but the buildings I was in are big, so I put on some miles. Next week will be even more exhausting, certainly; I'm grateful for the four-day weekend.

***I'm also emotionally drained, following a very stressful training today on school-shooter safety. It was very, very intense.

***I discovered the Love, Teach blog this week and have to share 59 Real-Life Thoughts I Had on the First Day Back at In-Service because it made me laugh out loud a lot. I highly recommend teachers follow her on Facebook, too.

***I'm three weeks out of surgery, facing three more weeks in my sling. The pain is tolerable, and therapy is going well. That said, this is the most difficult physical and mental challenge I've ever undertaken.

***A co-worker had the same surgery done a week before I did. She said she is ignoring all doctor's orders and is instead being healed through Jin Shin Jyutsu, an "ancient art of harmonizing the life energy of the body." Her mother-in-law is trained in it and comes over 2-3 times per week to apparently lay her hands on her and guide her energy. She said that she does not go to physical therapy and does not wear the sling except for at work (She works on the maintenance crew.) She said she feels great and already has better range of motion than I do. While I am open to alternative healing methods, I will be sticking with physical therapy, doing my exercises religiously at home, and watching how this plays out for the two of us. 

***Mr.4444 and I are taking Kendall back to college Saturday [sniff].  To soften the blow, we'll stop by the Minnesota State Fair (I hope.), to which I've never been.

So that's what's been keeping me busy! What's new with you? Share a link to your own Friday Fragments below (non-FF links will be deleted) and see what's happening in our fragmented neighborhood:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Friends Helping Friends

My sister Geri shared this on Facebook. It's amazing.

To learn more about this beta project, click here.