We learned how to respond to active shooters in situations today, and that’s about all I can say about it. I can say that it is incredibly empowering to have done this training, and I’m seriously grateful that it was available and required for us to do.
It got me thinking about how to respond versus react in all life situations. How can I remember to shift to RESPOND vs REACT when working with a student that has behavior problems and keeps making the same mistakes? Or when a student isn’t listening? Or when my dog eats the cat poop again like it’s candy?
It’s a pretty interesting connection to make, the idea that to be prepared means that you have a set of skills and experiences that help you with the scenario…and also that you have to use your decision making and clear headedness in the moment. It’s not something to use just in emergency situations. This concept of respond vs. react is a life skill. Many people in “regular life” don’t talk about being prepared, but boy howdy, it sure helps. It helps to have a toolbox of appropriate responses at the ready instead of being surprised by a situation and having to just react.
What would you do here?
- Your child has a backpack full of homework that is two-three weeks old.
- Your dog runs away habitually when there is a thunderstorm.
- Your partner picks their teeth while watching TV.
- Your student lies about hitting someone in class.
- Someone steals the cans and bottles you’re collecting for deposits.
- Your electricity gets shut off.
How do you respond vs. react to these kinds of scenarios? How could you prepare for them by having a plan vs. just winging it every day? How would you change your actions and set things up so that these things didn’t happen?
I’m not here to give you the answers, as any quality teacher or mentor would never just give you the answers. I’m here to challenge you by sharing some stuff. It’s my blog and I find that what I actually do here is synthesize my experiences and then share them with the world. It’s really for ME and for my love of writing that I do this. I don’t do it for notoriety. Yes, of course I enjoy it when I know that my stories help people or connect with people. But that’s just the overflow. I write about my life (and share it) as a way to understand my experiences and then it is a blessing to connect with people that connect with it.
One interesting result of having spent now 8 hours in “intruder training” is that I really think everyone should make it a habit to be aware of their surroundings at all times, without making themselves feel anxious and skittish. It’s just smart, no matter where you live or where you work. Everyone I know that is military/police/fire/EMT/Paramedic and many social services workers know how to do this due to job training. But for the bulk of us…let me put it to you like this, in teacher language:
When I taught preschool I was constantly and I mean CONSTANTLY counting children. I had a continuous habit and practice of making sure I knew where the children were at all times. It’s a little less like that in 3rd grade, and more like that in Kindergarten. In preschool, counting children is necessary and definite. This habit of counting kids is the same thing as being aware of surroundings. All you need to do to be prepared is just pay more attention. Scan often. If something is off-YOU ARE RIGHT.
I think for me, some of this comes naturally because I have ADHD and I’m literally always paying attention to everything. I know if I see someone that is off on school grounds, or if someone is acting weird at the grocery store. I notice when 3 white vans line up at a red light on a big street with many lanes. It always causes me to look around even more. Things that are oddly out of the ordinary ARE. What will you do to react vs. respond? I’m not here trying to scare people. But knowing what you might do to respond in any situation vs. just winging it is a a great practice.
Additionally, some of this makes me feel almost meditative.
To have tools and skills at the ready but also knowing “I don’t know what will happen, but I have some ideas of what I’d do,” well, that’s what most trained first responders know. They have skills to respond, but they know that every situation is different.
It’s almost a mindful practice, to have a set of responses you’d try and then knowing that with this preparedness comes the very real understanding that you have to be ready for anything, and likely, you will be surprised and have to “think on your feet.”
All of this training gives me a major intellectual and curiosity filled outlook. I came home and thought-“Yes, Jen, you need to lock the trailer at night. You keep it locked at all times when you’re not here, but at night you’ve been leaving it open for nighttime potty breaks. That’s not the smartest thing to do.”
So I’m going to lock my trailer. And I always pay attention to what’s going on in my neighborhood.
And the combination of knowing what I’d do to “get out” if I needed to here in my house vs. having no clue makes me feel safer.
What makes you feel safer and more prepared? What can you do on your OWN to make yourself feel more secure in your living and work situations?