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Teaching and Unexpected Interruptions

Flexibility and Unexpected Interruptions


Surviving as a teacher means being flexible. Many days it feels that you can't get through a lesson without something disrupting the lesson. Following is a list of unexpected events that might strike a teacher at any time.

Fire Drills

Fire drills are typically announced beforehand. However, once or twice a year students might pull an alarm. This type of disruption really affects the lesson because it takes time to get the students out of the classroom, gather at the assembly point, take roll, and finally wait for the all-clear signal.

Tornado Watch or Warning

In some areas of the country at certain times of year, tornado watches or warnings can happen on a weekly basis. In tornado warnings, students have to get to a safe location and can't get back to the lesson until the all clear is sounded.

Bomb Scares

Our high school had at least one bomb scare each year. These take a lot of time and typically cause you to lose an entire day's lesson. The police have to be called in and you have to wait for everything to be checked before you can return to the classroom. Often, students will be moved to an area like the stadium where they can sit down for the duration.

Unexpected Visitors

Students, teachers, administrators, and even parents can unexpectedly show up in class and cause disruptions. Having others come into your classroom means that you have to stop what you are doing and assist them.

Office Announcements

Many schools try to limit office announcements. However, there are still interruptions by the office calling for students who need to leave or giving the teacher necessary information.

Minor Student Disruptions

Minor disruptions such as talking or note passing happen on a daily basis and can easily interrupt lessons. Further, handheld devices like ipods and smart phones can cause disruptions as phones might ring or students might be caught texting. As a teacher it is important to try and keep the lesson flowing while dealing with these situations.

Guidance Interruptions

As students get ready to go to college, they are often called out of class by guidance counselors. Students might need to meet with college representatives or have individual help preparing for college interviews. These disruptions mean that students are missing out on important information.

Major Student Disruptions

Hopefully these will be rare. However, major disruptions such as shouting or fights do happen and there is nothing that a teacher can do but stop the lesson and deal with the situation. Hopefully, the students can be controlled and if necessary leave the class allowing you to get back to the lesson. However, it can be hard to get the students who were not directly involved in the incident back on task right away.

Unannounced Assemblies

Rarely, you might be called to an assembly with only a few hours or maybe a day's notice. The real issue with this type of disruption occurs when you are teaching multiple sections of the same course. All of a sudden, you will have classes in different places which can be confusing.

Other Disruptions

Lots of interruptions occur that you can't predict as you teach. For example, there might be construction work occurring outside, the teacher next door might be doing an extremely loud assignment, the air conditioning could go out, a fight might break out in the hall outside your classroom, electricity could go out, a major storm could occur with thunder and lightning, a student might vomit in the middle of class, or in the worst case scenario school violence might occur. Any one of these could seriously disrupt your lesson for the day.
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