Tuesday, September 28, 2010

8 Fire Drills by Christmas

 So far this year we've had three fire drills.  We haven't even been in school three weeks yet.  Why, you ask?  The law states that we have to have EIGHT fire drills before the end of the calendar year.   Yes, they're for safety.  In fact, our students are getting very good at evacuating the building, so I'm happy to report that they'll be better off than they would be if our building burned to the ground. Even still, getting in eight drills before Christmas, which really means eight in the first two months of school to avoid marching students around in really bad weather, is a bit excessive.

That said, when the thing went off last Friday for the third time this year, I was extremely exasperated.  Not only was it the second one of the week, I was in the middle of a demonstration involving a big bottle of hot sauce, a bottle of pancake syrup, $26 in wadded bills, and my trash can.  What is more, this was the rowdiest class in the entire eighth grade and they were on the edge of their seats wondering why in the world I would take money out of my wallet and through it into a sloppy, extremely pungent mess.

When the alarm went off, I took off my latex gloves, which in themselves grabbed my students' attention, lined the kids up and marched them out the door, down three flights of stairs, out of the building, down the block, around the corner, and off the main drag.  By the time we got back up, I had just enough time to finish the demonstration, but by then there was little time to discuss the economic concepts I was getting at (incentives, value, etc.) with the puddle and notes in my trashcan, let alone the time necessary to graph the results of the data we collected during the demonstration.  Coming back to it first thing on Monday left many stranded mentally as to what the heck the point was.

I may be mistaken, but when I was in high school I think we had one fire drill and one tornado drill per semester.  It isn't rocket science, after all.  In a city where holidays, conferences, testing days, and various legal distractions are pockmarks on the school calendar, so many fire drills seems pretty excessive.  You might say, however, "If there were a fire and someone was hurt, you'd be eating your words, Mr. James."  Well, each time we do one of these drills, it strikes me as pretty ironic that we march them around outside for the sake of safety when they are far safer inside our doors than outside on streets inhabited by junkies and less-than-savory characters.  If one of our students was hurt by a vehicle or someone on the street during one of these drills, what would happen?

Is it cynical that I think the teachers would somehow bear the brunt of that blame?

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