Lessons From a Teacher’s First Active Shooter Drill

Lessons from a Teacher’s First Active Shooter Drill
By Irene Sanchez (Xicana Ph.D.)

5 years ago
Year 1
Public school
I became a high school teacher
My son entered kindergarten
We had our first active shooter drills

High school teacher
Three schools a day, everyday
That morning
Continuation school
Follow the instruction on the paper
Most important
Lock the door
Lock the door


Lesson 1: A classroom with a wall of windows
Isn’t a classroom
It’s a fishbowl and we are brightly colored fish

The door opened
“bang bang you’re all dead!”
The principal said
I wanted to cry
I failed

But the door was broken

Lesson 2: It can’t happen here right? I was reminded.
Today they sent an email after Uvalde on how to
Explain the difference to our students between
Possibility and Probability of a similar event

Back to lesson 1:
There is a high probability your door is broken
There is a possibility you and your students are in a fish bowl
And there is only one way out of the classroom

On every campus I’ve learned to
Scan for escape routes but
Fish bowls don’t have a place to run
Or space to swim
And if the fish jump out of the water
They may not make it

Year 1
We stopped for gas after school
My son said confused
Mom we did a drill
We had to be really quiet
And I wanted to cry
Explaining to a 5 year old why he needed to listen well
Knowing even that may not save him/me/us

He is now 9
The same age as the children in Uvalde
The same grade as the children in Uvalde
I cry on my lunch break FaceTime call to my husband
As I scroll through the names and faces of the children

They say don’t make it political
They say don’t make it political
They keep saying don’t make it political
Every time
from Columbine to Marjory Stoneman Douglass
from Marshall to Forest
from Independence to Sandy Hook
from Mojave to Alpine
from Santa Fe to Edgewood
from Central to Prescott
from to
from to
from to
there are 100s of from to
Where we are now
Robb Elementary
Uvalde, Texas

How many more political demands will they make for control on us
When all we ask for is a simple one
Gun control

They demand control over our bodies
And only care about the children we carry until the moment they enter this world
Or until we bury them
Due to lack of gun control

They say it’s not preventable
They say it’s mental health
They say anything, but the obvious
Gun control

100s of threats don’t make the news
On those days students stay home
On those days I have convinced myself
Everyone is paying extra attention

But vigilance wanes
As does the rage and
“America” does what America does best
Goes back to “normal”
Sending thoughts and prayers
For a week
While I go back to lesson 1

I tell my son
Run if you can
Hide if you can
Fight if you can

I do pray everyday as many of us do in silence
As I watch my son walk through the doors of school at drop-off
I pray it won’t be the last time I see him or that he sees me
I tell him everyday many times I love him
I pray that he gets to see his baby brother I carry and that despite the 10 year age difference
They become best friends
I pray that he lives a full happy life
I pray all day and exhale relief when he comes out the gate to get in my car
I pray I can keep him safe
I pray I can teach him what he needs to know
Knowing that it isn’t enough because I have learned

Lesson 3: Prayers alone won’t save our children because sometimes
The door doesn’t lock on the classroom
And there are people in this country who will say even after all these school shootings

It’s not the guns

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