Fire Drills as a Substitute Teacher

There are many fire drills at the end of September, the beginning of October in schools. When you arrive at a new school at the office in the morning, they tell you that there’s going to be a fire drill that day at 1 pm. You are thankful because often, fire drills come as a surprise to substitute teachers even though the rest of the school knows about it. Even so, some of the grade 1 students scream when the alarm goes off and you’re unsure if you have an up to date class list. Thankfully, you know you have 20 students that day.

This situation can happen any day, so it’s good to be prepared for fire drills as a substitute teacher. Check the teacher’s day plans to see if she has a fire drill listed. Ask the teacher next door if there are any fire drills planned for the day. When you first enter the classroom, look to see if there is a sign posted by the door saying which exit to take if there is a fire alarm. Also, many schools have an emergency folder by the door with a (hopefully) up to date class list that you take with you outside. If there is no information, ask another teacher or the students if you have an older class. Find out from them where to take the class once outside – it is not always obvious.

When the alarm goes off, remember to shut the windows and turn out the lights before exiting the room with your class (all the while telling students not to scream if necessary). You leave the door unlocked so that the room can be quickly checked by fire fighters to make sure no-one is left behind. Once outside, make sure you have all the students that are present that day. In many schools, you have to hold something up to indicate all of your students are accounted for – it is often in the emergency binder so take a look around once you are outside at what the other teachers are doing. Hopefully it is a nice day and it’s a good break for you and the students.

Personally, I always keep my purse close, with easy access so I can take it with me outside. Sometimes it’s not a drill!


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