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Today was an interesting day at work. I'm about 10 minutes into teaching my 4th period science class, doing a fun little activity that demonstrates natural selection and it's role in evolution, when the fire alarm goes off. Since half the school was at lunch, I automatically assume that some smart-ass pulled the alarm. However, upon opening my door, I notice the black smoke billowing out of the girls' room at the end of the hall. I shoo my students out to the blacktop, but have to stop and start yelling over the noise of the alarm at the 50 or so kids just standing there staring at the bathroom. We finally clear all the kids to the blacktop, but half of them have no idea where to go because they were at lunch. Some of us were trying to get them to stand in the designated area for their 4th period class, but that didn't work very well. Why? Well, because many of the teachers who have first lunch were still sitting in the staff room eating. Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? They sat in there for 20 minutes, then came out when their lunch period ended. In the meantime, half the staff is working on attempting to control all of the students, when many of them don't know where to go and are just milling around, looking for trouble. To add insult to injury, when the whole thing was over, of course those students who were at lunch got released back to lunch, and the teachers who couldn't be bothered to help out during an emergency got another 20 minutes off. Must be nice, eh?
During this whole fiasco, not one administrator communicated with any of the staff on the blacktop. It didn't need to be the principal, it could have been a counselor, the librarian, a secretary...we just wanted someone to check in with us, let us know what was going on. Like, did we need to wait for the fire department to give the all clear? It took over 20 minutes for them to arrive, so we weren't even sure they were coming. Were they going to need to relocate the students from that hallway because it was still too smoky? Anything would have been nice.
This is the 3rd Tuesday in a row that we have had a fire on campus (not counting last Tuesday, which was during break). I never even knew about the first one. Apparently it was small and in a classroom. And, the principal decided to pretend it didn't happen. But, 2 weeks ago a student ran into my room to tell me that there was a trashcan fire in the girls' room (yes, the same one). I called the office. Again, no report was made. So, this time they set one big enough to call the fire department out (hold that thought...I'll get back to them!).
General consensus is that this is happening because of how unavailable our principal is. She is new this year, and it has been a big adjustment. She is rarely visible on campus. I'd venture to say that over 75% of her time is spent in her office, door closed, with no awareness of what's going on all over the rest of the campus. That doesn't work in a middle school. Once everything was under control, she should have come out to let the students see her today. She needed to have the teachers who were eating lunch come out to help. But, she has no clue.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it really is a great example of what a poor leader she is. I mean, it's a law to evacuate the buildings in a fire, or even a drill. We could be seriously fined by the fire marshall. That alone should have gotten her to send her staff out. This isn't the first time some staff members have reacted poorly to "drills" this year either. Two weeks ago we had a "code red" drill. We had to simulate what we would do in the event of a gunman on campus. Within 3 minutes my students had the door and windows locked, blinds shut, lights off, and 2 barricades built in my room--one blocking the door and one internally that they were hiding behind. Yes, it's a pain and it is disruptive, but we need to know what to do incase, heaven forbid, we ever need to go into lockdown like that. You need a plan. It's unfortunate, but you do. Yet, some teachers decided not to do it. Just, simply, didn't participate. Hello? This is a federal law. And, because of their stubbornness, we didn't pass the drill and need to do it again. The teachers responsible weren't disciplined, though. But, man, if you leave school 5 minutes early she's all over that, making sure you make up the time. Crazy!
Now, you've been waiting for those firemen, right? Damn, there were 2 fine lookin' men out there. And, poor me, they had to park the truck right outside my classroom window. I kept peeking out, and my students will never let me live that down. But, really, what else was I supposed to do when there were 2 hot men in uniform right outside the window?!? A girl's gotta have some fun!
***Edited 4/7/05 @ 10:02 pm***
I need to add to this entry...OK, the teachers did NOT stay in the staff lounge eating, but only because after about 5 minutes one of the counselors went in and told them to get outside. However, they did hang out in front of the office instead of coming to help because they were "trying to avoid that at all costs" as one teacher told me today. Well, gee, thanks! I guess that's a bit better, but still not right.
However, get this...the fire truck took so long to get there because the principal wasn't going to call them originally. Huh?!? Let's go over this, shall we? When the alarm goes off, the fire department is notified. That means that someone told them not to come originally. This is a fire that was big enough to set off the alarm. So, why did she finally decide to call them? She thought perhaps the fire was in the wall because even though it was out, it wouldn't stop smouldering. No shit! Fires do that. So, if it had been in the wall, and she waited 15-20 minutes to call the fire department, it could have been really disasterous.
Let's hope we don't have a real emergency this school year. I fear we wouldn't make it!past | future
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