Ann Farabee column: Time spent teaching

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 11, 2022

By Anne Farabee

A code word was said over the intercom. My students looked at me. Not a word was said. Not a sound was made. In unison, we all began to walk to the classroom closet. I counted my students as they entered, joined them in the darkness, and closed the door.

“It is a drill. It is only a drill,” I told myself.

But I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Our job was to be calm, still, quiet, and to open the door for no one.

Several minutes later, although the classroom door had been locked and closed, it slowly opened. We heard each footstep of someone heading across the classroom and stopping at the closet door. The door handle was shaken and pulled on by the “pretend” intruder.

Only the locked door separated us — and as the teacher — I was the closest one to the door. My students were huddled behind me. Waiting silently and breathlessly, we soon heard the “pretend” intruder walk back out through the classroom doorway, and close the door. We still knew not to move, just in case his closing of the door had been a trick and he was still in our classroom.

Finally, we heard the principal say over the intercom, “The lockdown drill is now over. Everyone can return to class.”

This was my first experience practicing what to do if there was a potential threat to our safety during the school day. I am sure the procedure has changed over the years, but for me, it felt very personal. It felt very lonely. It felt scary. Mostly, it felt overwhelming for me, as I realized the responsibility I would carry on my shoulders if there ever was a real threat to my students.

This lockdown required a totally different mindset than what students and teachers experienced during fire drills. I felt every ounce of the seriousness from my 6th graders, who were also experiencing their first lockdown.

As I waited with them, my thoughts were, “Why are the schools doing drills like this? A fire drill, I understood. But has our nation really come to the need for a drill like this one? This is America. These are children. No one would come to a school and put our children at risk.”

Now, decades later, I look back at the innocence I had that day — the innocence we all had — during those years.

It was a drill that I could not understand at the time. It was also my first introduction to the world that was coming.

As a student, teacher, parent, grandparent and as a retired teacher who continues to teach, I have spent much of my life in schools.

As I watched the news recently and kept up with horror of the killing of school children in Uvalde, I naturally thought of the many students I have taught over the years, and asked myself this question, “What would I have done?”

That is a question I feel that I can answer.

Without a doubt, I would have laid my life down for any — and all — of my students. I do not know a teacher who would not do the same.

Teachers and students have a bond that cannot be explained, but can only be felt. We are not family by blood — but we are family.

As another school year ends, may I express a “thank you!” to our teachers for all that you do for our children. You are valued and appreciated. May your career be blessed.

Cherish every moment.

Time spent teaching is never lost.

Ann Farabee is a teacher, writer and speaker. Contact her at or

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