TWO WORDS: TEACHERS' CONVENTION.
That's right, folks. It's a big, ol' four-day weekend for yours truly. The annual NJEA teachers convention - held in scenic Atlantic City - is tomorrow and Friday, and that means NO SCHOOL!
I have to wonder if anyone actually attends the convention. I mean, "actual" teachers. I remember when I was in college, our student chapter of MENC (that's Music Educators National Conference for all you non-geeks) would go down to the convention. We'd get a few cheap hotel rooms, drink ourselves silly for two days, then drag our sorry asses to the collegiate meeting, where we'd sit on the floor in a corner and try not to throw up on each other. Good times.
But I've never gone as a teacher. And I don't know of any other teachers in my school who go. Mostly it's just a great excuse to get away from the kids for a few days. After all, we've been in school now for a whole two months, and there's still two long weeks to go before Thanksgiving.
Speaking of kids, today we had our first official lockdown drill at school. In the wake of all the crazy school shootings, most districts across the country have had to come up with plans - just in case. And while it's hard for me to imagine one of our own kids capable of such a thing, I guess you never can tell.
The principal had sent letters home to each kid's parents, explaining when and how the drill would work, and we had an assembly on Monday where she explained the procedure to the kids. And this morning at 9:25 AM, she got on the PA and announced, "Attention faculty and students: we have a Code Red."
At that signal, we had to get the kids down on the floor and against the wall farthest out of view; close and lock the classroom door, putting paper on its window; turn off the lights and keep the kids quiet. Four police officers (in quad formation with pistols drawn) searched the school. We could hear their walkie-talkies buzzing as they passed by. We were instructed never to open a locked door unless we heard the code word (which I can't tell you, just in case you decide to come shoot up my school.)
I'll say this - even though we were prepared for the drill, there was still something very disturbing about it all. Today was a bleak, rainy day. Sitting huddled in the dark for twenty minutes with the kids, I started to think about how awful it would be if something ever did really happen. I thought about the horrors of Columbine, Michigan and the Amish schoolhouse - shuddering as I looked at my own students.
I guess lockdown drills are no worse than the air raid drills of the 1940's. I guess we're as fucked up as we've always been. At least we're consistent.