|Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by TWO WRITING TEACHERS|
Fire drill. 1:30pm. Friday afternoon. 8th graders. My co-teacher’s student teacher. My co-teacher’s guest teacher.
There is a reason they call them disaster drills.
I tried to pre-correct. I tried to model a sense of decorum. I tried.
My 9th hour class exited the building quickly and safely. Once outside, they split up to find their 1st hour teachers. I broke away to find my 1st hour students.
I approached a line of antsy, squirrely—well, 8th graders. I wrangled them as best I could. I held up my “Good to Go” sign when they were all accounted for. I avoided engaging in conversation with them at a time when we are supposed to be silent.
I stopped next to R. He is usually quiet.
I turned to look at him.
“If this were a real fire they wouldn’t really make us report to our first hour teacher, would they? I mean, what if I had to walk around the whole building to get here?”
I took a deep breath. “Actually, R, we would expect you to report here in case of an actual fire. In fact, that is the very reason we practice this procedure over and over again—so that you know what to do in a REAL fire. That is also the reason there are teachers calling to you to walk around the building at a safe distance from it.”
“Yeah, but if it were a real fire they wouldn’t really care if we reported to 1st hour.”
By this time, I could see my efforts were futile. If 9 years of public school system disaster drills had not convinced him, my attempts to explain certainly were not going to do the trick. At 1:30 in the afternoon. On Friday.
For a moment I feared that exchange might be the nugget of school I would carry with me into the weekend.
The classes around us began to move towards the door. I held my class back to avoid being scrunched into the crowd. To avoid allowing students to be swept away with other classes. To maintain at least a semblance of control.
Finally, I led my class into the building. We merged with the sea of moving bodies.
That’s when I heard it behind me. A chorus of voices. “When I say 21, you say VOICES. 21.”
“When I say VOICES, you stay STRONG! VOICES!”
As we entered back into building at 1:45 on Friday, I was followed by 21 Voices Strong. 21 students, who started the year nervously asking if the mantra we are learning to repeat at the beginning of class each day would be shared with other classes, declared their membership throughout the hallways. 21 members of the Voices Strong class, which is my answer to the remediation-based interventions our system is currently putting into place, made me proud.
Now that is one of the finest nuggets of school I have ever captured to carry with me into a weekend.