What I was not prepared for was trying to teach a class while girls came in and out of my classroom yelling about students from the school being victims of gang violence during lunch. That turned into 28 students insisting I let them go to the office (which has 2 phones) all at the same time to call their parents to get a ride home. And at least 10 of my students crying. And at least 4 or 5 running out of the classroom, collecting their friends, and leaving school well before the day was actually over.
I happen to think that I am pretty good in emergency situations. I haven't been in that many, but I stay calm and make decisions a lot faster than I do generally. But I have never had to deal with keeping 28 other people calm and inside one room because when they are in my class I am responsible for all of them.
So I called the dean to explain why they couldn't all make calls home at once and to reassure them that the school had extra police in the neighborhood. Then I gave up on my lesson and had them look up vocab words for the unit in the glossary in their textbooks, stood in front of the door and promised to wait with anyone who needed to stay at school waiting for a ride home. I think that was the right choice. And first thing on friday morning I asked someone at the school what the emergency procedure is, because even though no face slashings occurred during lunch, students were running around the hallways yelling and crying, which seems borderline emergency to me. The emergency procedure is that someone from the main office gets on the intercom and tell students and teachers what to do. That never happened on thursday. At the end of the day an administrator came into my room to tell me I should walk all of my students outside at the end of the class period, that was it.
So while none of the teachers were really too worried, having heard the face slashing rumors every year, all of the students were scared. And on friday 10% of our students came to school.
And I spent all of today planning lessons and projects because even after all of that insanity, I still love my job.