Sunday, November 23, 2014

ALICE drill

It makes me sad thinking about our lockdown drills. What has this world come to that we must practice what to do in the event of an active shooter? I was in middle school when Columbine happened and since then, more and more incidents have happened. I feel like there is always something in the news about people going into schools/colleges/movie theaters and shooting innocent, unarmed victims. I won't get into my stance on guns because that has nothing to do with my blog. So back to ALICE. In the past, we have always been taught to lock our doors, turn off the lights, hide in the corner and WAIT. Wait for what? Wait for the shooter to go away? Wait for the shooter to kill other innocent students in another room? Wait for the shooter to come in to my room and find us all there like sitting ducks. That's exactly what you are in that situation...sitting ducks. Helpless. You have no control, no opportunity to protect yourself, NOTHING! Last school year, our district adopted the ALICE system of lockdown. ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate. Evidence shows that when you make an effort to deter the shooter by either throwing things at them, barricading the door so it's harder to get in (this happened at Virginia Tech and the rooms that the shooter couldn't easily get into were passed up for easier rooms) and getting OUT! My classroom is very fortunate to have a door to the outside so if something were to ever happen, my students and I would be out that door if the situation was safe for us to do so.

Last year when we adopted this program, the teachers had to do a training session after school. None of us were happy about it, we didn't want to stay after school, and most of us thought the idea was stupid. You want us to throw pencils at someone with a gun? Bullets do a lot more damage than pencils. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, local law enforcement came in to do this training with us and went through our old style of lockdown of hide in the corner. They came down the hall with a bullhorn that sounded like gun shots. As we sat in the room hearing the shots getting closer, my heart was racing. I was terrified! I am not a rookie around guns but sitting there helpless, even in a fake situation, had me wanting to run for the hills. But we had to sit and wait, because that's what we were taught. The "shooter" eventually made his way into our room and shot us all. We were easy targets. I NEVER want my students to feel the way I felt in that scenario situation.
The next scenario we went through was countering. We were given tennis balls and the officer came in with a pellet gun and tried to shoot us. As he came in, we threw the balls and got out of the room. What is your reaction when someone is throwing something at you? You cover your face or try to protect yourself and that was exactly what happened. Every single one of us got out of the room before we were shot and the officer was actively trying to shoot us. It was liberating. We were able to protect ourselves.
The last scenario was to barricade our door, to make it hard for the shooter to get in. We successfully blocked our door and the shooter was unable to get in.
So why am I writing about this? On Friday, we had an ALICE drill where we barricaded our door. I was so proud of the work my students did to protect our classroom and I must say, they did pretty good work! Not only is that desk super heavy and took 4 of us to push, that mess of chairs is going to make it pretty hard for anyone to get in.

So do I like that this is the world that we live in? NO! Do I like that we have to take class time to do this training with students? NO! But, I do like that I am able to take back some of the control and protect my students if the situation ever presented itself.
Do any of your schools do ALICE or do you still lockdown and hide in a corner?

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