Safe or Unsafe?

It’s appalling that guns and death have become so closely associated with schools and teaching. I never felt really unsafe in my career at the college but there were the odd slightly hairy moments in those twenty-eight years.

We once had students from a nearby prison. Some of the teachers thought they might be dangerous in class but they were well vetted and well behaved. A van dropped them off in the morning and collected them after class. One guy showed real potential in writing and I hope he went on to a college program and stayed out of trouble.

One day, a fellow teacher and I were working in the staff room when a student we didn’t know knocked and entered. He was carrying a guitar case.  He said he’d been told he could eave the case in our room and deposited it. There had been a recent shooting involving a gun and a guitar case and my friend became most alarmed. The situation was resolved when I discovered another teacher had indeed given the kid permission.

The same teacher had an argument with a student who was very unstable. On the blackboard, he drew a picture of a gun pointing at the teacher’s desk. The class was held in a large open area with a walkway around the top. My boss asked me if I thought the student was a genuine threat. I said I doubted it he had access to a weapon. Today I would have had quite a different answer to her question. The student was asked to leave our program and there were no repercussions.

The class I taught in the shopping plaza had some very volatile students. One of them sometimes lay down on the floor and slept. I usually left him alone as he was very unpredictable and rather scary. Another student with an explosive temper drew a knife on his math teacher. I was glad I didn’t know he carried one.

One Friday I got into trouble with security. I was teaching computer studies students at the time. They deposited their assignments into labelled mail slots n the hall which we accessed from inside the staff room. In the latest batch of assignments, I found an anonymous message. It read like this. YOUR ALL GOING TO DIE. I assumed it had been written by a bored student in the computer lab and wasn’t a real threat. I showed it to my office mate and took it, just in case, to the dean. Then I went home stopping at the supermarket on the way. My husband asked what had happened that day as he’d received several urgent calls from the college, asking me to phone the security office immediately on my return. When I did, I was sternly rebuked for leaving without speaking to them. I was asked who in my classes would have written YOUR instead of YOU’RE and I answered that 99% of them would have done just that. On Monday, I discovered that after my departure on Friday, the whole school had been evacuated and the president wasn’t amused to be ousted from her office

Not sure about next week. I have probably written enough about teaching.