…as it turns out, I took extensive ethnographic field notes of the one I did.
Want to know some of what's in them?
Our principal made a big show of welcoming the officers to the building, laughing & greeted them by their names like they were old friends.
We had never seen them before. And the officers never introduced themselves to the group, never told us their names
From the sterling client roster they rattled off at the beginning of the session, there’s $$$ to be made
A fellow teacher looks uncomfortable: “I didn’t expect we’d be at any risk,” he says quietly.
He still signs
The officer told us, “Citizen preparation for danger is nothing new. We’ve been doing these for years: fire drills, earthquakes, tornadoes.”
She paused in a practiced way & said, “As teachers, you guys are really the first responders”
Instead, each powerpoint slide was riddled with acronyms:
4E: “Educate, Engage, Escape, Evade.”
RP: “Rally Point”
RUP: “ReUnification Point”
The slides weren’t just cheesy – they were designed to cut off critical thinking. Substantive Qs were "unprofessional"
Gradually building synth chords:
🎶“I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you"🎶
🎶“You’re the one I love and I’m saying goodbye”🎶
Faces of victims fade out
A colleague whispers to me, “We’re just sitting here waiting to get shot at.”
She looks ashen, wants to start prepping the classroom now
People spring into action, trying to push tables against the door.
But nobody shut the door first, & it’s left open
As she leaves, she adds, "You did good!”
A teacher says quietly, “It didn’t feel like it.”
My colleagues throw blue tennis balls at him, dancing around the classroom like they’re doing a basketball drill.
"Keep your feet moving, keep moving around the room!" we were coached
They don’t know this technique is intended to slow down our deaths, to give law enforcement more time to respond
“All I know is, if they come in the kitchen then we can throw knives,” says a cook.
A teacher points at a bottle of bleach in the corner of the science lab, says we could use that chemical to burn them.
(Against an assault rifle?!?)
Teachers throw tennis balls at him & then time is called.
“We just wanted to show you how fast someone can pull a gun on you” they explain
We’re in a room, waiting for a scenario to start when we hear more gunshots.
They sound more faraway than usual.
(Note: there is now a “usual.”)
“Is that us? I think it’s the classroom downstairs.”
We don’t react
There was a lot of vague talk about amputating legs. How any of tht was supposed to prevent someone frm bleeding out, I don't know
And - despite her own lack of participation or even observation - she gushes abt how “reassuring” she found the day
Because that’s pretty much what we have when we refuse to enact meaningful gun control legislation.
It’s a theatre-prop gun when we’re talking about automatic rifles.
Maybe there’s a way to do it better. (There surely has to be.)
But we shouldn’t accept the easy normalization of this idea that a school shooting is somehow the same as a fire, earthquake, or tornado.
We subject children to the lesser trauma of drills, hoping it will prevent the greater trauma of death.
These school shooter trainings seem like what you’d get if you translated thoughts and prayers into a ritual sacrifice for teachers & students to enact periodically throughout the year.