There was a gasp of horror and the room fell into silence as several little girls processed what had just happened. One of the girls squeaked that they were going to tell on me and I ran. I cannot say if the tears in my eyes were from embarrassment, betrayal, or pain.
I hid myself in a closet -- terrified and guilty.
Skip ahead a decade or so and now I'm an adult working with teens. My teacher neighbor is a woman with high energy and no boundaries named Heather. She was constantly flouncing into my room (if I left the door unlocked) and chatting with me and my students. If I did remember to lock the door against her, she would only knock loudly and I'd let her in anyway. It may sound bad, but she made us all laugh with her antics and it was usually not in the middle of class so I never minded the disruption.
On one particular day, the class and I were getting ready for quiet reading time. I had claimed a spot in the back -- I used to love reading among the students instead of behind my desk -- and we were settling in for the last 20 minutes of class to read. The classroom was quiet, pin drop quiet, as we all settled into the pages of our books.
Then, at the back of the room, came a loud BANG.
For context, I believe the news had recently been reporting on a school shooting and I was on edge. The banging on my door was a sound I had been taught to dread. My mind immediately went to the worst case scenario: someone was trying to break down my door and shoot us!
My attention immediately snapped to the door and there I found not the face of a killer, but the killer grin of my notorious teacher neighbor, Heather, as she pressed her face against the glass window of the door. She waved: "Hello!"
I groaned and mentally uttered a few more curse words for her. Before I let her in, I apologized to my students, but unlike the temperamental elementary girls, they were more understanding. After all, her sudden appearance had startled them as well.
And then there was last week. We had been sent an email that we were to expect a lockdown drill that day. When the announcement came, I instructed my students to get the lights and to be quiet. I thought the doors were already shut and locked, but as I watched one of my students venture to the tissue box it hit me. The doors were locked, but the magnetic strip allowing for easy entry was still in place.
I knew administration was wandering the halls, checking rooms at random, and without thinking I stumbled across the room:
I did not trip, but I felt like I was in a horror movie, afraid the killer was going to push against the door just as I tried to secure it. It was a drill, but all I could imagine was the real scenario and how I had just wasted precious seconds securing the room. I cracked the door, slipped the magnet strip out, and closed it again.
Luckily, no administration was nearby, but I did have to then deal with a gaggle of giggling teens reassuring me that it wasn't that serious.
It was, but I hope my antics at least eased some of the tensions from having to practice such a drill.
Could I have been more professional? Yes, but when you are dealing with people's lives I think a few choice words are permitted.