In my thirteen years of teaching I have attended a lot of professional development and training sessions. I’ve been fortunate to attend sessions on writing, reading, math, spelling, assessment, first aid, CPR and even proper ways to restrain someone. I have not, however, attended a training that was ever more beneficial than the safety training I attended today.
There was not a lick of academics or a whiff of best practice involved. What I learned today was how to save lives. I had a safety training today that taught us about school shootings. I learned about the emergency procedures pre-Columbine and what has been learned since. I learned about the Virginia Tech shootings and what has been learned since. I learned about the Sandy Hook shootings and what has been learned since. I learned what to do. I learned what not to do. I learned how to take action. I learned what it was like to have a gun in my face, and let me tell you, even knowing it was a fake one didn’t make it feel any less threatening. I learned ways to keep my students and myself as safe as possible in the event of an emergency.
I was able to participate in actual drills to practice the procedures and ideas we were taught. I was able to practice my learning on the spot and in my own school building with the people who taught us. I was able to practice my learning with my co-workers, the people I would be surrounded with in the event of an emergency.
I heard statistics and 911 calls and saw pictures that will probably give me nightmares for a while, sometimes made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and at times brought tears to my eyes. But, I learned about keeping my children safe…and they are my children after all. I think of the 18 little ones in my classroom as my children. I am responsible for those precious little souls whose parents believe that I will do my best to teach them to read, write, and play nicely with others. What I learned today is how to also protect my babies, because their parents have also trusted me with their safety and well-being and I don’t take that lightly, I can’t take that lightly. As I was told today, no one as Sandy Hook woke up that morning thinking “today is the day tragedy will strike me,” but it did anyway. People at Columbine believed that a school shooting would never happen in their town, but it did anyway.
I hope to the moon and back that I never once have to use the training that I received today but if I ever do, I feel more prepared to handle it and more confident that I would make good solid choices for the safety of my students.
I don’t know who was responsible for arranging for the professional development we had today but I can’t thank them enough. I am thankful for the instructors who have dedicated their lives to teaching others in this way. As one detective pointed out, they don’t teach this stuff in education classes, do they? And even though the reading and writing trainings I have had have been great learning experiences, they don’t even hold a candle to today’s learning. After all, it doesn’t matter if I have taught my students to read or write if we aren’t here to do it.
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