Have you ever had one of those moments when your student does something that is inappropriate but is so dead on for his age? You have to be ‘angry’ and correct him but deep down inside you are like OMG, that is freaken great. Like when your students lie or get in peer arguments (swoon- how many cognitive and social skills are wrapped in those two concepts). I had one a few years ago and I couldn’t even bring myself to get mad because I totally get in. This was circa early 2013, we were having a rare quiet and calm moment in my typically chaotic classroom. Everyone was working and engaged. I was working with two kids on really fun matching game and they were loving it. Then our blissful state was interrupted by the most dreaded sound you can hear in a school. The freaken fire alarm. Ugh. It started one of the students I was working with and he looked at me and said, “Oh shit.” You know what amigo, I feel you. Oh shit is right. Fire drills are my nemesis.
Fire alarms are a pain in the you know what because they are unexpected, they break our routine and schedule, and they are loud as crap. Pretty much a recipe for absolute disaster for my leaners with autism. We all hate it but we have no choice. We are in a school and that’s one of those things that we have to deal with.
Tips for Dealing with a Fire Drill
- Assign staff members (ahead of time) specific students that need extra attention. We each have a ‘go-to’ kid and then also watch everyone else. A few years ago, I had a student who really struggled getting down the stairs and we are on the 4th floor (ugh…). I went with him alone and my two paras took the rest of the class.
- Remain calm. Fire drills always surprise the heck out of me and it’s easy to get hyped up. You kids feed off of your engird. It’s just a drill and you will all live.
- Assign student partners. This helps with head count and keeping everyone accounted for.
- Practice frequently. I know. This is like electing to visit the dentist more often than you need to but you will thank you self later when your student know exactly where to go.
- Use visuals and KEEP THEM BY THE DOOR. Believe me, you will never go searching through a file folder for your needed visuals once the alarm goes off. If they are by the door – it’s grab & go. I suggest some general visuals (wait, nice job, be quiet, etc.) and a Fire Drill Social Story.
These social stories can be used before an anticipated event or read on a regular basis. This resource has 5 social stories about common school special events and emergencies. These are essential for successfully managing unfamiliar and unexpected events! The stories included are:
– Going to an Assembly
– Going to a Pep Rally
– Tornado Drill
– Fire Drill
– Lockdown Drilll