This week, we had an emergency lockdown at school after a gun was spotted on campus. The kids and I huddled in one corner of the room behind a barricade of desks as we waited for the all-clear; as we listened for noise in the silent hallway. Finally, we heard footsteps, followed by every classroom door swinging open slowly. The footsteps stopped outside our door. Someone turned the handle; came in. I’ve never been so glad to see a police officer in my life.
Everything was OK. But I realized a new thing about being a teacher: Something kicks in to make you fiercely protective of the kids. In that moment, those kids were mine; they were in my care; and even if I couldn’t save them all I was going to die using my body as a shield. It felt primitive; instinctual — like something that had been ready and waiting in me for years. Like generations of good mothers had prepared me.