We've done the drill before. We know to close the blinds, go to the assigned corner, turn out the lights and stay quiet. Mrs. O puts a green card in the window to show that everyone is safe and accounted for in the classroom. And then we wait for the "all clear" signal. Which usually comes very quickly. But not yesterday.
My first clue that something was a wee bit amiss was the glimpse I caught of police walking down the second grade ramp. I quickly suggested we sing some happy songs, and hoped everyone would look at me instead of the parade of uniforms outside. I got a book to read aloud about the time the question was asked, "Mrs. O. Is this a REAL lock down?" Hedging the question, I continued to assure my seven year old friends that we were fine, fine, just fine. I could tell there were some skeptics in the crowd, and one of the children suggested we sing Christmas songs. (Oh, Rudolph: thank you for your calming way on children.) The crowd was getting restless, and one boy suggested we "sing softly to calm us all down". And when a few gave into tears after the wait got a little too long? One of my students crawled across the floor for a box of Kleenex to share with those in need. (Parents: You are raising your children right. They are compassionate and thoughtful in time of need.)
After about 30 minutes, the Lock Down was cancelled. We went outside to see parents anxious to find their own children, and helicopters buzzing overhead. We learned later there had been an armed robbery in the neighborhood, but that all three "bad men" had been arrested. Sigh of relief.
The last time I faced an unknown situation in my classroom was the "real" September 11 in 2001. I was teaching third grade at another school, and we were only hearing snippets of what was going on in the world around us. That day, at least half the parents in my classroom came to the school at various times just to give their child a hug. I think the parents needed those hugs more than the children. I let the adults come and go as needed, thankful that our little central Texas town seemed to be safe from any impending danger.
When my students returned this morning, the "real" Lock Down was all they could talk about. So, I did what any good teacher does: I seized the moment and had everyone write about it in their journals. There was a solid 20 minutes of total silence as my little scribes scribbled furiously. My favorite line from this missive: "Mrs. O told us, 'Would I be reading you this book all happy and calm if this was a real Lock Down?' Well, she was WRONG!!!!" (And the line was underlined at least seven times for emphasis. As if she really enjoyed writing that. A lot.)
So, I end this post thankful for my students who kept a level head, even when the teacher was clearly not fooling anyone. And praying we'll never have to really use Lock Down for a "real" reason.