Safety Tips for Classrooms and School Libraries
While I was researching THIS IS NOT A DRILL, I found that there were a number of safety tips no one had ever told me while I was in the classroom. Some of them were common sense, things most people would do if an intruder entered the buiding, but some of them were less obvious. I decided to put together a list for teachers and librarians, so I'm posting it here:
Safety in the Classroom or School Library
1.Pay attention to student comments. Alert the principal and security officers of any rumors of weapons or impending fights.
2.Leave doors open and windows uncovered so that hall passersby can observe a developing situation inside the room, especially if you teach students who may have anger issues or could be considered volatile.
3.Close the door if there is gunfire or threat of an intruder. Lock or barricade it with table and chairs.
4.Instruct students to remain in the restroom or other classroom if danger erupts – or if they’re in the hall to move quickly to the nearest classroom.
5.Remain calm. Students take their cues from you. Your ability to hide fear can set the tone.
6.If someone has a gun, inform him in a matter-or-fact tone that you are sending the other students to a nearby teacher’s room (or library, etc.) so that you can talk with him about the problem. If he agrees or doesn’t answer, have them leave their things and move out of the room quickly and silently. If he refuses, instruct students to be seated and quiet.
7.Sit at your desk to show you’re calm - and to place distance between yourself and the armed person. Don’t move between him and the exit. Don’t try to stop a fleeing student. Alert the principal if he leaves room.
8.Tell the person you will not approach or confront him. Ask him politely to point the gun away from you while you talk. Use a quiet, calm voice and non-threatening actions. Don’t take anything he says personally; respond in a professional manner. Clear your mind of any assumptions about the person and treat him as you’d like to be treated if you became unstable
9.If you or your students become hostages, don’t make promises you can’t keep. Be empathetic. Say that you’ll help in any way you can. Just try to slow things down until professional help arrives. Statistically, most hostage situations are resolved without violence, so time is on your side.
10.If shooting erupts, drop to the floor and tell your students to do so also. When police officers arrive, listen for commands, obey instructions, and stay out of their way.
(I hope you never need them, but it seemed like a good thing to think about - in the same way we plan for a fire or tornado at school, even though they are unlikely occurrences.)