I’m a creature of habit. I get to school at 7:00 every morning: from the first day to the last day, including all PA Days. I’m productive in the morning, and I like the solitude before a busy day. So it was as part of my regular routine that I used my entry card to get into the school at 7:00 this morning. Perfect … until it wasn’t. The alarm was going off: not a fire alarm, but an “ee-oo-ee-oo” alarm. Oh no!
It was then that I realized that there was no caretaker in the building, which meant that my entry triggered the alarm. I emailed my principal and vice principal right away, and in case they didn’t check, I texted my vice principal too. Gosh, I adore administrators that get back to me within minutes, despite the early hour of the day. I kept envisioning the police officers arriving, and just finding a teacher that wants to get some school work done. 🙂
When I heard that the alarm company knew of the problem, I thought, I might as well get upstairs to my classroom. I climbed the stairs to find the door locked. No problem. I came back down the stairs and thought, I’ll just take the elevator to the second floor. Maybe this was one time that it was okay not to take the stairs. 🙂 I knew that I could get to the elevator through the stage in the gym, and good news: the gym doors were open! The stage door wasn’t though. Okay. I’d just go out the other gym doors, and get to the elevator through the Kindergarten area. Oh no! The double doors that separated me from the elevator were closed, and the gym doors locked behind me. I was trapped in the hallway (or so I thought).
This is when I took a deep breath, and tried the double doors. They opened. They also triggered another alarm. More Aviva fun! 🙂 I figured that since I got this far, I might as well take the elevator up … and this is what I did. But then there was another set of closed double doors outside of the elevator. If they were locked, I was stuck. Thank goodness they opened, even though they triggered another alarm bell as well. It was now 7:20 in the morning, and I’d set off multiple alarms all in an effort to get to my classroom. Good news though: I made it!
It was in the midst of this comical (at least in retrospect), action-packed morning, that I thought about teaching, students, thinking, inquiry, and problem solving. Why? Every conversation that I’ve ever had about the inquiry approach includes reference to “direct instruction.” How much should we give? When should we give it? What do students really need to know? Without a doubt, there is content that we need to teach students, or at least ensure that they understand, but even more than that, we need to teach them to think and problem solve.
I can’t help but wonder, if a similar situation happened to me even a couple of years ago, what would I have done?
- Would I have gone back out to the car and waited for somebody else to come, or would I have thought about whom to contact and how to do so?
- Would I have given up if the top of the stairs were locked, or would I have looked for another way?
- Would I have sat down in the hallway when the gym doors locked behind me, or would I have tried to open up the next set of doors?
- Would the different alarms have stopped me, or would I have realized that once the alarm company knew, I might as well continue on?
My teaching and learning has changed a lot in the past couple of years, and today, I really thought about those changes and what they mean for me and for my students.
When I told my class about my morning adventures, one student said, “Wow Miss Dunsiger! You did a lot in 20 minutes.” I couldn’t help but giggle, but also realize, she was right. I hope to never have this experience happen again, and I hope that it doesn’t happen to any of my students either, but if faced with a challenge, have I helped them think logically and problem solve or only wait for adult support? Hopefully it’s the former. You never know when an alarm might sound. 🙂