Where do I even start? When it rains, it pours, am I right?
We are so close to the end of the school year. Seniors will be done in a week and everyone else is out in about 3. The kids (and teachers) are getting antsy. We are all ready for summer.
This leads to a lot of … interesting … interactions. The students tend to act out, the teachers tend to drink more after school.
On Monday, we had eggs thrown inside the school. On Tuesday, passing period was shortened from 5 minutes to 3 and students were no longer allowed to stop and chat or socialize in between classes. On Wednesday, a reward was offered for any student who ratted out the egg thrower.
This week it was eggs, last week it was water balloons, I wonder what next week has in store?
But I haven’t even gotten to the best part.
Thursday was a normal day. My first-hour class took their vocab quiz like they do every Thursday. It was business as usual – until second hour, when the lights turned on and off in succession several times. Thankfully, I don’t have a second-hour class. It was my planning period and I was upstairs in our workroom with a couple of my colleagues. We barely had enough time to ask each other, “Wait…you saw that, right?” before the fire alarms went off and kids started pouring out of the school.
I walked in confusion to the hallway and saw one of our principals. I asked him what was going on and he said all he knew was that this wasn’t a drill. There was a real fire somewhere in the building.
So, I did what teachers do and started helping to usher students calmly and carefully outside. It had poured the day before, so we all stood in the mud on the front lawn waiting to be told what to do. I was almost out the front door when the power went out. It sounded like a giant machine being turned off in a movie – like someone cut the main power switch. Everything was off.
I’m just glad that this didn’t happen on Wednesday…during the monsoon.
The kids were happy to be out of class, but after about half an hour they started getting antsy.
“What’s going on?”
“How much longer do we have to stay in the mud?”
“When can we go back inside?”
“I have to pee!” (This was the most frequent interjection.)
Teachers were texting admin and each other frantically trying to figure things out. Teachers in lab classrooms with breaker boxes told stories of sparks and lightning and bangs and of rushing out of their classrooms. The fire was electrical. Something sparked in the mainframe of the school’s electrical system and it affected everything. We were lucky someone saw the smoke almost immediately and had the forethought to get someone to shut down the power.
We received instructions to usher the students to the football stadium. Those of us who didn’t have a second-hour class were told to “patrol” the parking lot and make sure students weren’t trying to leave amidst all the confusion. I hopped in my car with two friends/co-workers and we sang “They see me rollin’ / they hatin’ / patrollin’ and tryna catch me ridin’ dirtaaaaay” as we drove around the parking lots looking for shady characters. No one was getting out of that parking lot without us knowing.
We were ready.
Ironically, there was no one to “patrol.” The students were so interested in what was happening that no one even attempted to skip out on school. They followed the leader down to the football field and sat in unison. I swear it’s the most orderly and well-behaved our students have ever been. Ever.
Lunch became an issue quickly. It was past 12:30 and we hadn’t been able to feed any students yet. The cafeteria couldn’t run without power. Several options were suggested, but there just isn’t any business that can handle making enough food for 2,200 students all at once with no notice at all. What we (teachers and students alike) had all been praying for was finally – maybe – about to happen. They can’t keep students in school without feeding them. It’s kind of against the law.
So….They offered the students the opportunity to leave. There was a mass exodus of the football stadium as students converged on the teachers working the stadium gate. All the students had to do was call or text their parents (in order to prove it was really a parent) and have their parents give the OK for them to go. One group of teachers took phones and made calls and wrote down names and student ID numbers. The term clusterf– doesn’t even begin to cover it. As my mom used to say, it was a “mell of a hess” (her version of “hell of a mess”).
The rest of us had to let students back into the school to get their things. They needed phones and car keys to be able to leave – everything they had left behind thinking it was just another fire drill. The school had been given the all clear. The fire was more of a “spark and smoke” situation than actual flames, so they weren’t in danger back inside the building as long as the power stayed off. Even still, we had to escort kids down hallways and into classrooms. In the dark. Because there was still no power.
I know. Sounds like fun, right?
After most of the kids had gone (except for a few stragglers waiting on the buses – which were coming early to pick them up) those of us who were escorting them through the school sat down in a “kumbaya” circle on the floor waiting to be told what to do next. By now it was past 1:00 and we hadn’t had lunch either. I was all kinds of levels of hangry.
Hangry teachers are not fun people to be around. We already have to squeeze our lunch into a time period half as long as most other adults get for lunch – and most of us only use a fraction of that time to actually eat.
So, you’ve got a bunch of frustrated, hangry teachers sitting on the floor because they’re afraid to leave and get in trouble, but who have no instruction as to what to do next.
Finally, one person gets a text from our principal calling for all hands on deck at the field house to help get the final bus stragglers off on their buses. She shouts out the instructions to the rest of us and off we go.
Turns out, they didn’t really need our help…BUT our principal did tell us we could go home (an hour and a half before school would normally have been out). So, naturally, us hangry teachers went and got margaritas.
Because we deserved it.
That night, we got an email letting us know that the power issue wouldn’t be fixed in time for school on tomorrow so we would have a “digital instruction” day. Teachers would assign work electronically and students would do it at home. You know, on their own…taking their own initiative to do work on a day we don’t have school. (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! PUH-LEASE!)
After we all got done laughing at the prospect of students doing schoolwork on their day off (we’re all still chuckling about it) and looking forward to sleeping in and having – for all intents and purposes – a three day weekend…we got the text.
The text that said, “Oh by the way…you guys still have to come tomorrow. The school doesn’t have power but the church down the street does, so that’s where we’re working. See ya’ll in the morning!” (Obviously, I’m paraphrasing…but that’s the gist of it).
It was kind of like a punch to the gut….or a stab in the back….or a kick in the groin.
You get the idea.
So, we all show up at the church this morning. We were given instructions.
“Never in Arkansas history has any public school been given the opportunity to have a virtual school day….so impressive….making history….blah blah….”
We had to provide some sort of digital instruction or assignment, show proof, and then provide proof of contact with students. So, we all opened our computers and got to work on the “providing digital instruction” part.
Then the wifi said, “Uhmmm, NOPE! Buh-bye” and we were all without an internet connection. The digital instruction requirement was still there, but we had no way to make it happen. The poor little church wifi just was not prepared for almost 200 teachers to come suck up all its bandwidth.
Of course, we asked to be released to go home – where most of us have working wifi.
Of course, the answer was a quick and solid, “No.”
The good news is that they did finally fix the electrical problem at the school, so we were able to go back to our classrooms and get the work done.
The bad news is that didn’t happen until after lunch.
More good news: I got to spend all morning chatting and hanging out with some of my favorite people. So…you know…it wasn’t a total waste of time.
Also, if you’re wondering how the “digital instruction” thing is going….I’ve had about 8 students turn in today’s assignment. Out of 142. So…yeah…that worked out.
Overall, it’s been a pretty eventful week. Honestly though, I’m ready for the crazy to be over and to have a normal rest of the year.
Something tells me I won’t be that lucky.