Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Code red! Code black! Severe weather! Back in the day, I don't remember having to practice these alerts, knowing to stay away from windows, or to curl up like a ball in the hallway. It was just how to line up and exit safely in case of a fire. Wow, how times have changed . . .

Teachers, as it is the third week of school, your principals are gearing up to test you on your knowledge of emergency procedures. Brush up and get a new safety card for the room. Practice often and drill it into your students. Do it in the morning, after lunch, and before you leave. After a few days, they will be experts. There may be a time this year where you'll have to put those skills to the test and there isn't time to say, "Okay, Johnny, you actually go here right after Lisa...and sit like this boys and like this, like this...good, right, okay."

Two years ago we had a Code Red at our school. There was a robbery in the neighbourhood so our school was shut down. Since it wasn't a drill, I must admit I felt some panic. However, knowing that I had to be brave and model proper behaviour, I calmly shut the door, turned off the lights, and sat on the carpet. Minutes felt like hours. I can't remember how long we sat there, but I remember wondering what could be happening outside. So many possibilities went through my head and having a great imagination does not help. When it was all over and I found out that there was a police chase and the suspects were teens, I felt relieved. Still it could have been something more serious. However, I thought we were well prepared and I was so proud of my Grade 2's for sitting so quietly for so long.

I hope you never have to experience a "real code", but if you do, stay calm and do as you've always done. Be a great leader, keep calm, and smile. The kids feel better when you smile.

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