If we were having coffee today, I’d most likely tell you about my creative writing class that got underway last week at the local college. It definitely got off to a robust beginning and then continued to make records for the most unusual writing class I’ve ever taught.
The first class met June 28, and about half-way through the class, the students’ phones began going off with a weather warning signal. The report said a tornado was headed our way and we needed to “take cover now!” Since it was the first class of that term, and my classes last year had not been in that particular building, I did not remember exactly where the “safe” rooms were, so I had to hunt for the building map. I found it in the tray of the whiteboard, and immediately located the closest “safe” room for students to move to. My students weren’t actually frightened or panicked, but since one whole wall of our classroom is glass, they did want to get out of that room.
Well, when I tried to open the door to the “safe” room, it was locked. So I told the students I’d check the alternate rooms listed on the map, but then, suddenly — as if out of nowhere — one of the main custodians appeared with a key. However, as he opened the room, he also told me that a different room on the other end of the hall was actually safer, so I directed my students there instead. One woman’s husband was sitting in a lounge area reading while he waited for her. So the custodian went to get him and have him join us in the “safe” room. I was praying, of course, but I did feel responsible for making sure my students were as safe as possible.
Before we got to the safe room, some of the students stopped to look out one of the windows. It was pretty black outside — even though it’s normally still quite light at that time — and as they were looking, suddenly the wind took down a tree. We learned that another tree on the campus was also uprooted as well, but we didn’t see that one.
With class interrupted, we just sort of sat and conversed about other topics for a while, and two students kept tabs on the weather updates. One of them read a report that a local Kroger store had taken all their customers into their meat locker for safety. One of the students commented that if her daughter had been in that position, it would have been like a nightmare because the daughter is a vegetarian.
Everyone was pretty upbeat during the waiting time, and after a while, they decided they’d like to go ahead and continue the lesson. So I went back down to our original room and got all my teaching material so we could have the lesson while we waited. There was no whiteboard, but I was able to give them some of the material without it. When the warning time had expired, with our building still in one piece, we packed up our stuff and moved back down to our regular room and continued our class, no worse for the wear.
One of the students had ridden a motorcycle to the class. So he had about a 20-mile ride home in the rain after we let out. But the winds had died down, and the warnings had expired at least. He had come prepared, though. He had brought along a rain suit, so I guess he’s been caught in that kind of situation before. He made it home okay and was in good shape to come back this week.
Now, to this week’s chapter: When I got to the classroom Thursday, two of my students were standing outside the building — in 100-degree heat. As I stepped from my car, I yelled to them and asked if the door was locked. They said it was. So I got back into my car and drove over to the security and maintenance building. I couldn’t get anyone to answer my pounding on the door at the security office. I couldn’t get into the maintenance office, and I even stopped at a shop area where they were welding to ask for assistance. They just sent me back to the security office, but that second time, an officer FINALLY came to the door.
Evidently, because our class was meeting the day after the 4th of July, we were one of only a few classes that were meeting that day. I guess several of the others had dismissed for the rest of the week, and the officer said his list of buildings that were supposed to be open for classes did not include the one we were trying to get into. However, he drove over and opened the building for us. It was a little strange to be the only class meeting in that great big building, but at least all was quiet weather-wise, and we had no interruptions.
All in all, I’d say this term’s writing class has been less that boring. And if nothing else, maybe it will give students something to write about. However, I do hope next week is TOTALLY ordinary.
Have a great week, everyone!
Thanks to Eclectic Ali for hosting our weekend coffee share.