Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 06 2010

When it rains, we scream about zombies

Everyone knows Arizona is the desert, which means it pretty much never rains. Unfortunately, that also means that when it does rain, the weather doesn’t mess around.

Today the rain started while my kids were at lunch. I braved the storm to go pick them up from the cafeteria (in another building) and had just managed to get them out the door when it started hailing. I’ve never seen real hail before, and we’re talking actual half-inch diameter balls pelting my kids from the sky. GET BACK INSIDE! I DON’T WANT THAT HITTING YOUR HEAD. STOP PLAYING IN IT. INSIDE!

Of course, I corral the kids back into the cafeteria just in time for the power to cut out. Cue four classes worth of students screaming and running for the windows. SIT DOWN. STOP SCREAMING; YOU’RE FINE. SIT DOWN. By the dim light of the backup generators, we waited out the hail and then made our way back to the classroom.

The building I teach in was so dark that it wasn’t safe for kids to be walking around, so we had to keep the same class for the rest of the afternoon. For the first hour or so, the storm outside was absolutely insane and the kids could barely control themselves. There’s nothing that excites Arizona kids more than rain, and when you add a school blackout and extraordinarily low visibility out the windows and hail on the roof and thunder booming, it’s all they can do to not be glued to the windows. Kids moved seats so they could be underneath the leak in my ceiling. One kid raised his hand to start a detailed discussion of what would happen if zombies showed up, because maybe that was their footsteps running on the roof. (“Don’t worry, buddy, I’m a certified zombie destroyer. I’d protect you.” “And what if you can’t?” “Well then we’ll sacrifice you to save the rest of us, honey.”)

The paranoia came out in me a little, too, although I wouldn’t have let the kids see it. With the intensity of the storm outside, I registered the possibility that something serious actually could happen. (I don’t know what I was actually thinking. Flood? Fire? Tornado?) If it did, I was in charge of a large group of middle schoolers who would go absolutely crazy. What would we do? Where would we go? What if we got trapped? Who decided I could be responsible for children?

(Don’t worry, once the storm calmed down a little, I did make my kids continue to do math. We played games, but they were math games. Then I went and found one of my classes that I didn’t get to see, and I made them do math too. This made them all hate me, but it doesn’t make me sorry.)

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