Although I’m about to start my first full-time teaching job, I’ve been in the classroom for two years now (one year of student teaching, one year of a 0.2 FTE at one school and half-day maternity/sick leave subbing at another), plus one day short of a full summer school session.
Despite that, today I had my first major Classroom Emergency.
One of my students – I don’t even know what to call it – passed out? fainted? checked out temporarily? about halfway through class. I’m still second-guessing my response, wondering what I could have/should have done differently, and I would love any feedback or advice!
The students were on a 5-minute break, which in my classroom of mostly rising 8th grade boys, is pretty chaotic. A group of boys were playing around when one of them fell out of his chair and sprawled on the floor. This has happened a few times over the course of the summer, so I didn’t think much of it until I noticed another student pretending to sit on the fallen student’s face, with no reaction. Even this kid wouldn’t be capable of keeping a straight face through that, thought I, and I knew something was amiss.
I called out to the student to get up off the floor as I headed over to intervene, but he didn’t respond. When I got to him, I realized he was wide eyed, staring into space, unconscious. I called his name again and shook him gently, with no response (although I could tell he was breathing) so I rolled him onto his back as I asked one student to bring me my phone and another to go get the director of summer school.
As soon as I rolled him over, he “woke up” with a start and after a brief dazed moment, sat up and asked “what happened?” At this point, I hadn’t yet called 911 so I decided to hold off (would you have called anyway?). I had another student bring him some water, I talked with him briefly about how he was feeling, what he remembered, what he had eaten while deciding what to do next.
About this time, the director of summer school arrived and we conversed briefly about what happened. He took over with the student, brought him down to the office to lie down and phone his parents. His mom left work to come check on him/pick him up, but when she arrived about 30 minutes later he was feeling a lot better and really didn’t want to go home so he came back to class – and was his usual self for the remaining 2 hours of class. I had a chance to talk to his mom about what had happened, and she thought it may have been due to his skipping breakfast this morning.
Those wide-open, staring-into-nothing eyes keep running through my head, but I’ve done what I can. I think. I hope.
I’m very grateful my students were so quick to follow my directions when requested, without backtalk or whining. Sometimes I despair of them listening to anything I say, so it was nice to know that they hear me when it counts.
Let’s hope the upcoming school year is less eventful. They don’t prepare you for situations like this in teaching school!