We live in a day and age where it is a sad & disgusting truth that lock downs are becoming a common occurrence. I feel like once we get back into the swing of things, something terrible like what just happened in San Bernadino happens and we are put on high alert again. That’s why today’s blog post is going to focus on fire drills – but even more specifically on lock down drills.
Surely all schools then go into crisis mode and practice these alarms just to make sure they are on top of things. The sad thing is that it usually scares the kids OR makes them super anxious/hyper/not themselves. It is easy to let this behavior slide because we are so focused on what we have to do as the protector. Checklists, quick count, grade book, and whatever else your teacher duties are in that QUICK minute you have to react.
Here are my tips on making sure your students are on their best behavior and actually HELP you in these situations.
Educate your students on these BEFORE the drills happen
It is always good to devote an entire lesson to drills early on. It is something that we can put off for another day until a drill finally happens and you realized you never prepared your little ones. They are covering their ears, some might be crying, and you just feel so bad that you didn’t warn them about these things before hand. So take time at the beginning of the year to really talk about it. I let my students know that once a month we will have some type of drill and there are three of them: fire drill, lock down, and lock down lights on. I don’t tippy toe around what the lock down means; I truly let them know.
Have everything you need in a folder by your door
I have a little purple zip-up file folder hanging by my door that is filled with everything I need when we evacuate. It has:
- my class roster
- drill forms for the office
- a pen and pencil
- extra paper
All I need to do is grab my grade book and the folder and we are ready.
Lie to your students – Whaaat?
So our school takes lock down drills very seriously. Cops come in and treat it like a real one because we HAVE been on a real one and it was a bit chaotic and quite possibly one of the scariest things ever. When I teach my students about what a lock down means, we talk about how we hide and stay as quite as we can so the cops can do their job. If we are up talking or moving around then it can make it harder to find who they are trying to find. I let them know that we do A LOT of practice to show the cops that we are there to help them do their jobs correctly.
This is where the lie comes in. I let them know that during the drill, they are also looking to see who was the best at hiding and staying quiet. My kids do SUCH A GOOD JOB with this. While the cops aren’t actually holding a contest, my students think they are. Somehow we always seem to win and I bring in some type of treat the next day. Hey, I say do whatever works.
Give your students a drill job
I remind them that the line ender is ALWAYS responsible for turning off the lights and shutting the door in a fire drill. I also pick a few responsible students at the beginning of the year to be the students who turn off my lamps in case of a lock down. They are always aware and on top of their duties. By the time I am done locking the door and getting kids in our bathroom to hide, they are done and coming to join me. Trust me, if you are in charge of it all, it gets wild. Students are happy to help.
Let your students know their responsibility
Just because they might see other classes talking and being rowdy while heading outside doesn’t mean they can do the same. Let them know THEY should be an example on how others should act. Sure, it may be a drill but what if it wasn’t? I also lie during fire drills letting the kids know that administration is watching to make sure we are quiet, focused, and doing our jobs.
Remind them you are there to keep them safe
Lock down drills or fire drills, fake or not, are scary for teachers and students. Let’s do everything we can to make them feel okay with this. Since we have monthly drills I always jot down on my calendar to remind the students about them. We take five minutes to just talk about what we do then we are done. I also ALWAYS remind them every time we talk about drills that I am there to protect them. As long as I am there, they don’t need to worry about being scared. Since my classroom has such a sense of family, this resonates really well. I encourage you to do the same!
Vol. 3 – Behavior Chart or No Behavior Chart?
Vol. 4 – Tips for returning from Spring Break
Vol. 5 – Aromatherapy for Behavior