Sunday, September 2, 2012

Worst First Day EVER!

Okay, so it really wasn't THAT bad.  In fact, most of the day went really well.  Really, really well.  Until 1:50 and since we dismiss at 2:15, how bad could the last 25 minutes have been?  A.W.F.U.L.!!!  It wasn't my kiddos, they were great.  It wasn't me, I was trying my best to be engaging, which was easy because it was love at first sight with my class.

So what went wrong?  Well, at 1:50 our principal came on over the loudspeaker and announced, "Teachers, please lock your doors.  Dismissal will be delayed."  What????  Keep in mind that I teach in California where the classrooms are not in one building.  Instead, our doors all lead to the outside world.  That means once I locked the door, I was on my own.  The only adult.  No bathroom.  With a class of kiddos asking, "Why did she say to lock the door?"  My response, "I think she wants me to practice locking the door."  Huh?  I was not at my best since I was clueless as to what was going on.  But then my awesome principal (I really do love her), organized the office staff to call each classroom and let us know what was going on.  What was going on you wonder?  It turns out there was an armed robbery at a nearby bank.  One thief got away so the police alerted all of the nearby schools to go into lockdown.  A real, true lockdown.  Although over the years, we've had lockdown drills, this was my first real lockdown.  As soon as the police called, the gates around the school were all closed and locked.  All our classroom doors were locked.  We were completely safe the whole time.  But it was scary!  I was so glad that I teach first graders because they were completely clueless as to any problem going on.  They were also clueless about dismissal time.  We ended up being dismissed at about 2:45 and my kiddos didn't even know they were in school an extra 30 minutes.  I was also grateful that I was a veteran teacher and could reach into my bag of tricks and come up with an instant lesson.  What did we do?  Clay!  I had it all prepped for the next day, so I pulled it out and the children were enamored and oh, so sad when I got the "all clear" call and we got to evacuate.

I told you this was the worst first day ever, but it was also the best.  The most amazing thing happened as we evacuated.  The entire community pitched in to help.  Classes were called to the front gate one at a time.  There were escorts all along the way ... support staff, district office personnel, parents. All making sure we knew what to do and that all was well.   It was so moving to see the support we were being given.  I actually started crying (and then had to quickly suck it up so my kiddos wouldn't get worried.)  As my class got close to the front gate, a parent announced, "Mrs. Johnson's class".  The waiting parents who had children in my class stepped forward and all of the other parents stepped back.  I still get teary-eyed thinking about it.  And bear in mind that this was the FIRST day of school.  Somehow our amazing school community came together and created a safe, nurturing environment in the midst of a lockdown.  So on the first day two messages came out loud and clear:  Children are loved and protected at this school! AND We are a community that works together!

So that is my first day story.  After that, the rest of the week was lowkey.  ... and yes, the other thief was caught miles and miles from my school.

Love to all,


  1. A real lockdown! Scary! Wow! Sounds like you handled it like a pro. Congrats! I'm sure it COULD have been chaotic considering it was the first day but so glad it has a happy ending.

    Long live Play-Doh, quick-thinking and smart teachers, and a caring community!!

  2. WOW, that is a crazy first day! So glad everything was okay.
    Finally in First

  3. Good thing everyone is safe- and thank goodness you were prepped for the next day!!!

    Going Nutty!

  4. Oh my goodness! We have had three real lock-downs. None past the school hour though. My kids have always been so calm and serious. We huddle (as far away from the windows as we can get) and read from our bookbags.

    Chickadee Jubilee

  5. Amazing! Love the happy ending!!!!

  6. Thank you all for the love! We have a brand new teacher at our school this year. Can you imagine this happening your very first day of teaching ever? I was a mess my first year so probably would have sat there and cried. But she handled it like a pro! (...and we all let her know that this was a first for us and that this might be her only lockdown in her career.)

  7. OMG Camille,
    We have had plenty of lock downs but certainly not on the first day when five year olds are new to school. Wow. I am amazed that it went so well and that is a real tribute to a well run school. You have great systems in place for keeping kids safe. Thank goodness it all turned out well. Now I can take a breath again!
    Have a fantastic year of learning!

  8. Hey, Camille! Thanks for buying my Sight Word pack! I wish I had known you wanted it - I would have gladly given it to you!!!!!
    Yes, I pre-assess my kids on the words -- but it goes pretty fast because I have the info from kinder and if they miss a word or two, bam! That's the list they're on. I can revise the letter if you'd like me to!!! Just let me know!! :)