It’s surprising what unexpected events can happen on a regular school day, and as a teacher, you are expected to BE CALM amidst all of it! Below are three events that have happened to me in the last month, and as horrified or scared as I was, I had to PRETEND to be calm so that my little five/six-year-old students would be calm too and think that these events are no big deal.
Be calm when a student comes up to you with blood gushing out of his nose.
A month ago, one of my students had a nosebleed during class. As I heard the commotion from half my class telling me, “_____ has a bloody nose!” I scanned across the room, looking for the child at his seat, but he wasn’t there. I turned around and found him behind me with his hands right below his nose trying to hold up all the blood. My other students made a big deal out of it, saying, “Oh my goodness, he’s bleeding! Look at the blood!” I was shocked by not only the amount of blood that had come out in the few seconds after I had walked away from his table, but also how surprisingly calm this child was! So I took a deep breath, got the tissue box for him, and asked him to sit down and squeeze his nose for the next couple of minutes.
Be calm when a student vomits all his breakfast on the keyboard at the computer lab.
Last Wednesday, my class went to the computer lab after recess. In the middle of helping my students sign in to their computers, one of my students started talking loudly. I told him to quiet down because I thought he was just being rowdy after recess. After helping a student, I walked over to him to remind him to whisper in the computer lab. It was then that I realized what he was trying to tell me – the boy next to him had vomited all over the keyboard and his own clothes!
The area reaked of the sour smell from the sweet bread he had eaten in the morning and had now thrown up. I almost threw up when I told the two students to walk together to the nurse’s office. The child who vomited dropped a trail of vomited pieces off his clothes from the computer lab all the way to the nurse’s office. When the custodian came to clean up the mess, he took a look at the vomit on the keyboard, the chair, the ground, and the trail to the nurse’s office, and turned to me and said, “I don’t even know where to start!”
I could only imagine what would have happened if we were sitting on the rainbow carpet in my classroom on a usual day after recess. Would all of that vomit had landed on the hair and clothes of the girl sitting in front of him?? I would have been even more horrified, but I was just glad that we were in the computer lab at that moment! As I am writing this post, I realize that the child with the bloody nose is the same as the child who vomited. Sigh, poor child…
Be calm when the secretary says over the intercom, “CODE RED. This is NOT a drill.”
Three weeks ago, I was in the middle of teaching, when all of a sudden, the secretary went over the intercom and said, “CODE RED. This is NOT a drill.” As she proceeded to leave the intercom on for the next minute so that we could potentially hear anything going on in the office, my first thought was the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook. That made me scared for what was going on at our school, but I had to act quickly and calmly for my students.
They could tell the seriousness of the situation and dropped dead quiet. I closed the window blinds, turned off the lights, and checked that the doors were locked. Then my class moved to hide in our usual spot as we had practiced during our lockdown drills. After 10 minutes, they started rustling around and getting a little noisier. My students turned to me with questions about what was going on, but I had no clue either.
I reminded my students that the best way they could keep each other the safest at that moment was to be the quietest they could be. I tried to be optimistic and told them not to be scared because we were all together! I encouraged my students to mouth the nutrition song that we were singing just seconds before the lockdown. “Do you know the food group names, the food group names, the food group names…” Really random for a situation like this, but that helped them from wiggling around and getting scared. After a LONG 15-20 minutes of sitting there quietly and cramped together (which seemed like an eternity for the little ones!), the lockdown was lifted and class resumed back to normal for the rest of the school day.
Lesson learned: Be calm in all situations, and know that 20 little children are looking up to me, watching my every next move to deal with all the unexpected events that might come my way!